Bordeaux 2023: Cos d’Estournel and Pape Clement

16 May 2024

We’re not always complimentary about Bernard Magrez’s flagship, Pape Clement. However, this year, we must doff our chapeau and congratulate him on a really top-class effort.

Perhaps the vintage conditions promoted restraint; the 2023 has a dialled back style with a focus on purity and energy. Along with the magnificent 2020, it ranks amongst the best wines ever made at this wonderful Pessac terroir.

Up north in St Estephe, we have one of the big three, Cos d’Estournel. Ominous, black skies over the pagodas were a portent to our first tasting of the Medoc. Lots of critics were seduced by this very early harvested 2023 with an extremely low ABV, likening it to great Cos vintages such as 55 and 82. We struggled to make these comparisons, finding the wine somewhat meagre and lacking in charm. Perhaps with auspicious élevage, this will achieve greatness.

Pape Clement

“This is really classy with length and polish that shine brightly. Also, you see blackberry, bark, currant and mushroom character. Full-bodied with wonderfully polished tannins and a seamless finish.” - 97-98/100, James Suckling,

“The 2023 Pape Clément is one of the most exciting wines I have tasted here in a long time, maybe ever. Intensely aromatic and layered, the 2023 is simply stunning. Dried flowers, mint, licorice, mocha, cedar and tobacco soar out of the glass. The purity of the flavors is simply mind-blowing. Plum, pomegranate, blood orange and spice build in the glass, adding notable textural richness and resonance. This is the first vintage vinified with indigenous yeasts. Aging takes place in a combination of concrete tanks, ceramic eggs, Clayvers, 400-liter barrels and 225-liter barriques. For readers who want to taste the “new” Bordeaux, this is it. What a wine! Tasted four times. 2030-2053." - 95-97/100 Antonio Galloni,

Cos d’Estournel

"The 2023 Cos d’Estournel is fabulous. Dark, resonant and inviting, the 2023 has so much to offer. All the elements are beautifully woven together. Black cherry, plum, licorice, espresso, mocha and incense fill out the layers. Readers will find a Cos endowed with tremendous substance and intensity. I can't remember a young Cos with this much fruit concentration, yet there is nothing overdone here. I loved it." - 96-98/100 Antonio Galloni,

“The finesse is pretty phenomenal here, with such complexity of fruit and vivid, bright flowers. Lavender and rose. Seductive. Ever-so long and precise. Lead pencil and graphite. Reminiscent of old, great Cos, such as 1955 or 1982, but with so much more form and modernity. A renaissance of Cos. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, 1% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.” - 98-99/100 James Suckling,

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