Cos d’Estournel welcomes you home.
If you follow this blog you’ll know I’m a cheerleader for wine tourism in Bordeaux. It’s been very exciting over the last few years to see doors opening throughout the region with chateaux welcoming enthusiastic amateurs as well as professionals.
The Médoc is a major pull for visitors to Bordeaux. Saint Emilion may be the most picturesque town of the region, with its history and beautiful topography, Sauternes has the mysterious mists, Graves offers some of the best value wines of the region and the Entre deux Mers enjoys beautiful countryside and fortified towns. But the Médoc remains a priority for visitors. Why? Thanks to the famous classification, and the iconic names of the properties within it.
The choice of accommodation in the Médoc has been limited up until now; Chateau Cordeillan Bages was the only 5 star venue. Now there’s a new address to make it worth the drive: La Maison d’Estournel.
And a drive it is. The Medoc is an 80 km long narrow strip of vines tucked between the wild Atlantic coast and the Gironde Estuary. The topography is flat; drainage comes from the warm gravel soils that run in a series of outcrops from north to south rather than the elevation. The highest point is just 44 m above sea level. What is outstanding is the architecture of the chateau that run along ‘La Route des Chateaux’
It’s like driving through a wine list; heading north from Bordeaux you wind through the villages that give their names to the famous appellations of Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac and finally Saint Estèphe. It’s here you should stop.
The first chateau you see as you enter the appellation of Saint Estèphe is the impressive Chateau Cos Estournel. Cos has always been famous for its architecture. The oriental design was created by Louis Gaspard d’Estournel. He inherited land here in 1791 and continued to invest, buying neighbouring land expanding the vineyard from 14 to 45 hectares, improving the wine as he went.
These investments resulted in the chateau being included in the 1855 classification as a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classé. Sadly, he died just two years before this accolade
There was no house at Cos but instead of building himself a chateau to live in, he built a chateau for his wines. The impressive facade you see from the road is the winery and ageing cellar. The inspiration for the oriental architecture came from his frequent voyages to Asia. His obsession for the orient earned him the nickname of Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe and is clearly seen with pagodas atop the building (Pagodes is the name of the second wine of the property) and an obsession with elephants that are everywhere, including on the bottles.
As there was nowhere to live at Cos d’Estournel he made his home at Chateau Pomys, an elegant chateau he also inherited, just a stones throw away towards village of Saint Estèphe.
Both properties are once again in the hands of the same family thanks to Michel Reybier.
Reybier purchased Cos d’Estournel in 2000. He has also invested heavily since the purchase. From the outside the property looks the same but inside the change has been remarkable. A spectacular, all stainless steel, gravity fed fermentation cellar was built behind the facade with a huge underground barrel cellar and vertical wonderful wine library (more elephants).
In 2009, he added to his wine portfolio buying the Hétszolo Estate in Hungary and in 2013, he created his own Champagne Cuvée. These three vineyards make up Domaines Reybier.
Reybier is perhaps more famous for his hospitality. The Michel Reybier Hospitality group is a collection of high-end luxury hotels including La Reserve Geneva, Paris and Ramatuelle. There are also properties in Crans Montana, Zurich and so much more.
It was no surprise then that when he re-invented the cellars of Cos d’Estournel, he also renovated part of the buildings (that previously housed a museum) to create La Chartreuse. La Chartreuse in not a hotel but a ‘family home’ available to rent as a whole. With six bedrooms and two suites, 2 swimming pools (indoors and out), a hammam, beautiful sitting and dining rooms, it is a beautiful place to stay, but perhaps not really suitable if you are looking for a romantic weekend away for two (depending on your budget of course). It’s certainly discreet!
Now the Reybier luxury signature is a little more accessible.
Reybier bought Louis Gaspard d’Estournel’s private home, Chateau Pomys a few years back. It was already a hotel, albeit a rather dreary one. The vines that came with the chateau have now been incorporated into the vineyard of Cos but the building has been transformed into La Maison d’Estournel.
It is a beautiful, classic Bordeaux building in the lovely local limestone. Cross the threshold and you are in an atmosphere of accessible luxury, created by the English designer Alex Michaelis. The restaurant leads onto a beautiful, tree lined park over looking vines that run down to the estuary in the distance. There are more elephants here too!
It still has an atmosphere of a home rather than a hotel, a cosy and colourful library is the perfect place to taste the wines from the Reybier properties (and further afield) and the fourteen rooms and suites offer elegant comfort.
The food is delicious, a mixture of local produce and international and a perfect show case for the wines.
The word’s out already, a new destination that feels like the top of the world when you are driving there, but once there, you’ll see it’s at the top of its game.