Château Coutet, Barsac Premier Cru, 2014

Château Coutet, Barsac Premier Cru, 2014

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  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Semillon 75%, Sauvignon Blanc 23%, Muscadelle 2%

Aged in oak, the wine is of a pale colour. The nose is full of lovely aromatic notes of grapefruit, lychee, mango and pineapple. In addition, flavours of lime, toasted almond, and acacia flower can be detected. The palate is fresh and mineral but an incredible density to the wine imparts a long finish.

The vintage is already unusual for its power and freshness. An exceptionally wet winter fully restocked the natural aquifers and trigged an early budding in the spring; the vines bloomed about ten days early. Between April and July the weather was sporadic and alternated between cool rain and warm sunny days. The warmth and sun were sufficient to encourage good growth and fruit development. August, however, was cooler than normal and delayed further maturation of the fruit. The onset of an Indian summer in early September through mid-October allowed the grapes to ripen fully and begin to concentrate. Rain storms began again in mid-October creating ideal weather conditions for the development of Botrytis cinerea.

Though the cool summer was an ominous sign for the vintage, the exceptionally warm fall allowed for excellent if slow fruit development resulting in a very good wine.

About Château Coutet

Château Coutet is a Premier Cru Classé sweet wine from the Sauternes-Barsac appellation located in Barsac, in the southern part of France's Bordeaux vineyards. Château Coutet is one of the oldest Sauternes producing vineyards, and is described by David Peppercorn as a "twin" of Barsac's other Premier cru estate, Château Climens.

Coutet also produces a second wine, Chartreuse de Coutet, a dry white wine named Vin Sec de Chateau Coutet and a cuvée in vintages of exceptional quality, Cuvée Madame.

The estate was acquired in 1643 by Charles le Guerin, Lord of Coutet, a counsellor at the Bordeaux parliament. In 1695 he passed the estate on to his nephew, Jean le Pichard, whose descendants owned Coutet until 1788. It was at this time that the former US president Thomas Jefferson noted Coutet as the best Sauternes originating from Barsac.

Coutet was later acquired by Gabriel-Barthelemy-Romain de Filhot, president of the Bordeaux parliament and a cousin of the former owner. As a consequence of the French Revolution, Château Coutet was seized by the state in 1794 and de Filhot was beheaded. Château Coutet was inherited later on by Marquis Romain Bertrand de Lur Saluces, son of Marie-Geneviève de Filhot and Antoine-Marie de Lur Saluces. De Lur Saluces was also at the time owner of Château d'Yquem, Château Filhot and Château de Malle and thus the largest producer of sweet white wines in the world.

Château Coutet remained under the care of the de Lur Saluces family until 1923. At this point Henry-Louis Guy, a hydraulic wine press manufacturer from Lyon, purchased Château Coutet. This transaction separated the estate from Château d'Yquem. Guy equipped the winery with his vertical presses, still used today at each harvest.

In 1977, the Baly family purchased the property remaining present day owners. In 1994, Coutet signed an agreement with Philippine de Rothschild giving exclusive distribution rights to Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A.

Standing over the main courtyard, the château's square tower is believed to originate from the late 13th century with a design typical to the military constructions from the time of Aquitaine's English occupation. A second tower, located in the property's northern plot, is another example of the era's architecture. This landmark was built originally to breed pigeons and peacocks for region's Gascon lords. Further elements from other centuries define the property's architecture, including a 14th-century chapel and two 16th-century towers.

The architecture of the oldest part of the château is identical to that of Château d'Yquem, and the well in the courtyard an exact duplicate.

Coutet is also home to the longest Sauternes winery with a 110 metres long cellar that houses more than 860 barrels

Grape variety

Muscadelle is a white wine grape variety. It has a simple aroma of grape juice and raisins like grapes of the Muscat family of grapes, but it is unrelated.

DNA analysis has indicated that Muscadelle is a cross between Gouais Blanc and an unidentified grape variety.

Alternative Names: Sauvignon Vert, Topaque, Tokay (not used since 2007)

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage ("wild") and Blanc ("white") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. It is possibly a descendant of Savagnin. Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world's wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bulgaria, the states of Washington and California in the US. Some New World Sauvignon Blancs, particularly from California, may also be called "Fumé Blanc", a marketing term coined by Robert Mondavi in reference to Pouilly-Fumé.

Depending on the climate, the flavour can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and "green flavours" of grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit (such as passion fruit) and floral (such as elderflower) notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes but risks losing much aroma from over-ripeness, leaving only slight grapefruit and tree fruit (such as peach) notes.

Wine experts have used the phrase "crisp, elegant, and fresh" as a favourable description of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc, when slightly chilled, pairs well with fish or cheese, particularly chèvre. It is also known as one of the few wines that can pair well with sushi.

Along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screw-cap in commercial quantities, especially by New Zealand producers. The wine is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from aging, as varietal Sauvignon Blancs tend to develop vegetal aromas reminiscent of peas and asparagus with extended aging. Dry and sweet white Bordeaux, including oak-aged examples from Pessac-Léognan and Graves, as well as some Loire wines from Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are some of the few examples of Sauvignon Blancs with aging potential

Winemakers in New Zealand and Chile harvest the grapes at various intervals for the different blending characteristics that the grape can impart depending on its ripeness levels. At its most unripe stage, the grape is high in malic acid. As it progresses further towards ripeness the grape develops red & green pepper flavours and eventually achieves a balance of sugars. The flavours characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc come from the chemicals methoxypyrazines. Grapes grown in Marlborough's Wairau Valley may exhibit different levels of ripeness over the vineyard, caused by slight unevenness in the land and giving a similar flavour profile to the resulting wine.

Sauvignon Blanc can be greatly influenced by decisions in the winemaking process. One decision is the amount of contact that the must has with the skins of the grape. In the early years of the New Zealand wine industry, there were no wineries in the South Island, which meant that freshly harvested grapes had to be trucked and then ferried to the North Island, often all the way up to Auckland. This allowed for prolonged exposure of the skins and juice which sharpened the intensity and pungency of the wine. Some winemakers, like the Loire, intentionally leave a small amount of must to spend some time in contact with the skin for later blending purposes. Other winemakers, like in California, generally avoid any contact with the skin due to the reduced aging ability of the resulting wine.

Another important decision is the temperature of fermentation. French winemakers prefer warmer fermentations (around 16-18 °C) that bring out the mineral flavours in the wine while New World winemakers prefer slightly colder temperatures to bring out more fruit and tropical flavours. A small minority of Loire winemakers will put the wine through malolactic fermentation, a practice more often associated with New Zealand wines. Oak aging can have a pronounced effect on the wine, with the oak rounding out the flavours and softening the naturally high acidity of the grape. Some winemakers, like those in New Zealand and Sancerre, prefer stainless steel fermentation tanks over barrels with the intention of maintaining the sharp focus and flavour intensity.

Alternative Names: Fumé Blanc, Sauvignon Bianco, Muskat-Silvaner, Muskat-Sylvaner


Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, mostly in France and Australia. Its thin skin and susceptibility to botrytis make it dominate the sweet wine region Sauternes AOC and Barsac AOC.

Sémillon, which is relatively easy to cultivate, consistently produces six to eight tons of grapes per acre from its vigorous vines. It is fairly resistant to disease, except for rot. The grape ripens early, when, in warmer climates, it acquires a pinkish hue. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates; it is best suited to areas with sunny days and cool nights.

The Sémillon grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. It has a high yield and wines based on it can age a long time. Along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, Sémillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region.

The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes. For the grapes to be used for sweet wine production, they need to have been affected by Botrytis (also known as "noble rot"). This fungus dries out the grapes, thus concentrating the sugar and flavours in the grape berry.

Alternative Names: Malaga, Chevrier, Columbier, Blanc Doux, Wyndruif

About Barsac

Barsac is a small village about 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Bordeaux, in the southwest of France. It makes sweet white wines based on the Semillon grape variety.

These are some of the finest wines of their type on Earth. Among the most prominent properties are the Châteaux Climens, Coutet and Doisy Daëne. However, Barsac is less well known overall than the Sauternes appellation within whose borders the zone lies. Vineyard surface area totals 390 hectares (964 acres).

Semillon accounts for about eight in every 10 vines in the local vineyards. Sauvignon Blanc accounts for most of the remaining vineyard area, with smaller amounts Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. Semillon gives the wines a broad richness and structure, plus aromas of beeswax, tropical fruit and apricot. Sauvignon Blanc contributes herbal and vegetal aromatics. It also brings sufficient acidity to keep the wines fresh rather than cloying.

The chateau owners and grape growers of Barsac have a unique privilege. They have their very own Barsac appellation, but may also claim the Sauternes title for their wines. Of the four villages that make up the Sauternes AOC viticultural area with Sauternes itself, only Barsac has this honour. (Bommes, Fargues and Preignac are the other three).

The appellation laws for Sauternes and Barsac are identical in all but the territory they cover. In both cases the grapes may be picked - by hand - only when their must weight reaches 221 grams per litre. The same stipulation for the area's dry white wines is just 162g/l.

There are a few subtle differences between Barsac and other parts of the broader Sauternes region. Sauternes village is slightly hillier, which increases the effects of the mists and ultimately leads to more richly botrytised wines. Barsac's flatter sand and limestone based soils create finer, more elegantly flavoured wines.

Barsac's eastern border is formed by the Garonne in the northern half of the zone. Its tributary the Ciron river does the same in the southern half.

This confluence of a smaller, faster running, cooler river with a larger one is a key factor in creating morning mists. These are closely associated with botrytis cinerea (noble rot) formation. Loupiac sits on the other side of the Garonne.

Regular price $40.50

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