I’m so glad I found this tasting happening at my work's social clubhouse because my intended attendance at the trade tasting didn’t eventuate. I’m gutted that I missed out on the chance to taste the 2001 Cuvee Madame. I’ll have to dig deep into the pockets for a glass now, thank goodness for tax returns time!
I had previously provided an introduction to the lovely Aline Baly and her family pride, Chateau Coutet. Still sporting her American accent much to the amusement of the university academic crowd, this was a somewhat rushed stop on her Australian tour but still achieved an impressive unveiling of the inaugural vintage of the Opalie. Daniel Airoldi from Airoldi Fine Wines was also present as the Australian distributor of the premièring white wine. This dry white wine from Château Coutet is the first for a Barsac winery, and follows a trend initiated by its Sauternes cousins of Yquem, Rieussec and Guiraud. With a bad 2012 vintage on the books, successful sales of Sauternes/Barsac dry white wines will be vital for winery cash flow. At affordable prices (The G Guiraud can be found for ~$25), these Bordeaux blanc (sec) could be an ideal consumer alternative to the more highly priced Bordeaux blanc (such as Chevalier Blanc). Of course, you’d have to enjoy drinking semillion sauvignon blanc blends.
So how has Coutet fared with its first commercial attempt at a white wine? In my opinion, not too bad really. The 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet is a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fruit from 40 year-old vines that are hand-picked, fermented in new French oak barrels before further maturation in a mix of new and old French oak barrels. Pale straw yellow colour, a youthful intense nose of gooseberry, lime bush flowers, lanolin scents. A full-bodied white wine, the acidity is prominent, biting you like a rabid lemon. Intense flavours of lemon sour, sweet lime and beeswax. Raspy minerality on the finish. 14.5% alc. (That drops to 13.5% alc for 2011) Only 3000 bottles released for this inaugural release. AUD$96. Drink now – 2018.
There was also the opportunity to taste 3 past vintages of Château Coutet (2005, 2000 and 1998). The wines were poured from half-bottles, and I noted distinct bottle variation in the two 2000s. Prices indicated are for 375ml bottles.
Château Coutet 2005, Barsac
AUD$74. This is a brilliant lush young wine that is just hitting its strides. I’ve had several gos at this vintage, and it has been interesting to try and recall how it has evolved in bottle. Pale sunflower oil-like yellow colour. Intense aromas of ripe tropical fruit, nectarine, honey and kumquats. Lovely acidity that allows the sweet sugars to progressive flush your palate. Layered flavours of nectarine, mango and pineapple persist through, there’s even a touch of orange peel on the long finish. The oak is still present but is mellowing out. Drink now – 2023+.
Château Coutet 2000, Barsac
AUD$65. My first pour of the Coutet 2000 presented with a distinct waft of VA, almost detergent like. I questioned my nose, and sought a second opinion of the second bottle. Ah! Much better, a clean fragrant nose this time. Still, this wine has a muted nose with light aromas of tropical fruit and citrus. A simplistic drink, with med+ acidity, it is well weighted with the acidity balanced against the sugars. Ripe stone fruit, citrus and a spoonful of honey. There appeared to be a touch of tannic weight on the finish, perhaps a sign of tired age. Definitely drink up now.
Château Coutet 1998, Barsac
AUD$69. This wine is in stark contrast to the 2005 at this time. Now within its peak drinking window, this fully mature Coutet showed softer floral scents with notes of apricot, mango and Japanese cherry tea. Delicious plump flavours of mango, apricot, candied pineapple and ginger. It still maintains some freshness attributable to moderate acidity. Very good length on the finish. Drink now – 2018.
p.s. Apologies for the absence of pictures. The empty bottles were cleared from my desk by the office cleaners!