Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2003
An intense and exotic nose with mulberries and blueberries, that give way to spices. This is wild, full-bodied and rich with a plummy/porty palate with exuberant tannins. A unique power and richness, put leave this for eight years at least.
Two terrific efforts from this vintage, the 2003 Cos d’Estournel (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) remains one of the superstars of the vintage. It offers an opaque ruby/purple hue as well as notes of incense, camphor, licorice, creme de cassis and graphite. Full-bodied, opulent, incredibly fresh and well-delineated, it can be consumed now and over the next decade. Kudos to the team at Cos d’Estournel.
With its aromas of new wood, spice and black fruits, this promises from the start to be a powerful, polished wine. It is dense, very ripe (from the high percentage of Merlot in the blend), but still packed with tannins. It’s a massive wine, bringing together the heat of 2003 with the big tannins of Saint-Estèphe. Imported by Diageo Chateau & Estates.
Red-ruby. Knockout nose combines currant, espresso, earth and exotic spices. Wonderfully round and sweet, with outstanding volume and density. A spherical, seamless wine that saturates the entire palate. The huge but lush tannins coat the teeth. This is accessible now but has the sheer material for long aging.
Shows the heady ripeness of the vintage, with plum eau-de-vie, plum skin and blackberry confiture notes rolling along, lined with an ample roasted cedar edge that emerges fully through the finish. Not top-heavy, showing some aromatic lift, but this does have 03's roasted profile, which can come off as a touch heavy in the end.—Non-blind Cos-d'Estournel vertical (December 2015).
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Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture...
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends but was susceptible to viticultural problems. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it did flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, but did not gain its current reputation as the national grape of Argentina until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century thanks to its easy-going drinkability.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of freshly turned earth, black fruits from berries to plums, and licorice, appropriately backed by dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, it can be quite intense and often needs time to mellow before becoming drinkable. In the Old World, its rusticity shines, with aged examples showing dusty notes of leather and tobacco. The best examples in all regions often possess a beguiling bouquet of violets.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.