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Cos and effect

epicure 27 January 2012
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Thanks to high-tech cellars and a move towards organic farming, Jean-Guillaume Prats, chief executive officer of Cos d’Estournel, has been able to refine the quality of his wines from his top Second Growth winery.

If Jean-Guillaume Prats weren’t a winemaker, he could have started out as an hotelier. “There is a lot in common between running a great winery and a top hotel,” he says. “It’s all about paying attention to details and improving them.”

The 42-year-old chief executive officer of Cos d’Estournel, a top Second Growth winery in the Saint-Estèphe appellation, is no stranger to fine tuning processes. In 2008, he unveiled the completion of a multimillion project that has been the envy of Médoc: a 2,000 sq m winemaking facility that employs gravity to move grape juice to different vats (elevators transport little vats of juice up to an upper floor before running their contents down into the mother tank, and thus treating the fruit delicately and eliminating the need for pumps and human intervention). It’s a high-tech set that seems far removed from a historical winery whose nascence dates back to 1790.

“Cos d’Estournel needed a ‘rethink’ technically,” says Pratts, on the introduction of the facility. “It took us eight years to plan this concept. The use of gravity helps us to produce a wine that has a truer reflection of the style of the vintage; a more precise ‘definition’ of the fruit for that year.” In his opinion, the 2009 vintage, born from the gravity-driven tanks, is “the best wine we have ever produced”.

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