Château Cos d'Estournel
Client : Groupe Domaines Reybier
Architect : Wilmotte & Associés SA
Chief architect for historic monuments : Alain-Charles Perrot
Interior designer for reception rooms : Jacques Garcia
Area : 5 300 m² NFA
Médoc is home to some of the finest wines in the world. For the Saint-Estèphe appellation, Cos d'Estournel, a classified Grand Cru, is the most famous. Not only is the wine amongst the best, but the architecture of the winery is itself well-known beyond French borders. Developed by Louis-Joseph Gaspard d'Estournel, its famous pagoda roofs earned him the sobriquet 'Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe'.
At the request of the current owner Michel Reybier and his director Jean-Guillaume Prats, Jean-Michel Wilmotte put his name to one of his finest achievements in architectural grafting: built up within this Oriental folly, chief architect for historic monuments Alain-Charles Perrot helped recreate wine stores and vats within the old farm buildings. New foundations were laid up to 17 metres deep so as to incorporate two levels, each 2,400 square metres large. From the exterior, discretion prevails. Nothing indicates the presence of an ultra-specialised wine production facility. This new winery incorporates gravity winemaking technology, which eliminates the pump system so that the grapes and wine preserve their aroma and freshness. This feat is extremely rare for a vineyard of this size (90 hectares). Above the truncated cone-shaped stainless steel vats (72 in total, with a capacity of 25 to 115 hectolitres), back-lit glass slab footbridges allow an excellent overview of the cable-supported framework of wood, glass and steel – the only three materials used in the winery. Metal is a reminder of the vat, wood the barrel and lightness accentuated by the glass. Further down, the casks are highlighted by light emanating from glass and stainless steel columns. The chroma of the materials imparts an elegance and mystery to the setting. Overcoming the technical and architectural challenges gave this winery an almost theatrical setting, and resulted in the architect receiving the 'Man of the Year' prize awarded by the Revue du Vin de France in 2011.