A few words from Dominique Arangoits, winemaker at Cos d'Estournel, on the 2019 vintage.
How would you define the 2019 growing season in a few words?
A thrilling succession of unusual but ultimately favourable climatic events, a concatenation of periods of hot weather alternating with timely, moderate rainfall.
The 2019 growing season was incredibly dry and hot. How did you cope with the drought and heat spikes and other climatic pressures during the growing season?
The constant presence and vigilance of our teams in the vineyard were crucial in the face of the alternating weather conditions. Their decisions to begin thinning leaves earlier in the season proved wise, as did their ongoing efforts of light ploughing, which allowed the estate’s gravel to best maintain its water supply.
Our terroir was fundamental [to success], as its proximity to the Gironde estuary and the ocean allowed it to compensate for extreme weather conditions. And, having adapted to low rainfall early in the season, our vines were able to tolerate the unusually dry weather.
Based on the 2019 season and the fruit it created, did you have to modify any of the winemaking?
Each year, the final objective for the harvest is to start at the right time, and to reach the perfect maturity while preserving an ideal level of acidity. The last rainfall of September was of paramount importance in reaching that objective.
Also, our gravitational cellars allowed for impeccable manipulation of the highly concentrated berries. Our stainless steel, temperature-controlled vats allowed us to conduct fermentations at lower temperatures than usual (26-27°C) to avoid over-extraction, all factors resulting in delicate and silky tannins .
How did you work on the final blend this year?
We are astonished to observe that our grapes are starting to look alike as if they mutually shared their qualities: Merlot resembles Cabernet Sauvignon with the latter’s freshness and balance, while Cabernet Sauvignon meets Merlot with its velvety texture.
The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot for the grand vin.
What do you feel has had the biggest effect on the final taste profile of the 2019 vintage?
Certainly, the September episode with those five very hot days and the arrival of the rain right after. It brought serenity and oxygen to the harvest. The week of 23 September brought moderate rains (30mm) that, while usually feared at this time of year, reversed the trend: rehydrated, the estate’s grapes were able to complete their ripening process, especially that of the skins.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview