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2002: Cos DÉstournel & Leoville Las-Cases

March 15, 2014

This was a blinded tasting at Jade Palace, 9 Mar 2014, with the renowned thyroidologist Dr Robert Levine who also possesses extensive experience in Bordeaux along with a remarkable palate and, hence, came about this dinner. Both bottles had been purchased shortly after bottling and stored in my cellar thereafter, and both were decanted on-site at the restaurant and tasted simultaneously. The 2002 Ch Cos DÉstournel, deep dark red in color, bolted off the starting block with an abundance of black fruits that hinted at a full-bodied wine, beautifully structured with a firm ferrous tone, framed by sophisticated svelte tannins.  It loosened up very quickly, becoming much softer and more relaxed for a stretch of time that allowed more nuances of sweet dark berries to emerge amidst traces of cedar before growing again in intensity with early secondary characters appearing. This wine has evolved significantly since my last tasting note in January 2012 (see post), having shed its heavy cloak of wood and dusty tannins, managing on this occasion to put on some charm and warmth, just missing in outright opulence. Clearly, it carried enough typicity about itself, for Bob was spot-on in declaring “it tastes like Cos!”.

In contrast, the 2002 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, which I’d never had, took its time to develop. Very dark and opague. I thought it seemed more reticent on the nose at the first pour compared to the Cos (although Bob thought otherwise) but its bouquet was soon dominated by dense black fruits laced with the tell-tale graphite quality of the unique Saint Julien terroirWith Bob LevineLike the Cos, it too underwent a period where it became softer and more accessible, with textures that were more layered and open, although its stern demeanour remained. Then came a spectacular transformation where the contrast between the gorgeous black fruits and the tight sexy tannins snapped into focus, striking a wonderful harmonious balance, growing in breadth and seductiveness with traces of sweetness creeping in, displaying a level of concentration, depth and sophistication that only estates with true class and breed can produce. In my opinion, Leoville Las-Cases is truly a premier cru, and its quality in this so-called off year is testimonial to that.

Both wines are yet to peak. While the Cos is drinking very well now, my vote goes to the Las-Cases which has, at least, another two decades ahead of it.

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