One of the great dessert wines of the world, Château Coutet is one of two premier cru class estates located in Barsac. Shortly after graduating from college I first sampled their 1998 Château Coutet — a wine that was simply magical considering the challenges of the vintage. What sets Château Coutet above many of its peers is their incredible pursuit of crafting stunning wines in the most challenging of conditions. Speaking with their talented winemaker, he talked about how he was forced to set fire in his vineyard in 2017 in order to save part of his crop from the cold. The end result ended up being quite transformative.
Today, Aline Baly is the third of her generation to join the family business as she serves as co-owner of Château Coutet. The Baly family has run since 1977. The quality of wines have become quite evident since Aline has joined the frame. Aline has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago and has brought her marketing and business talents to managing Coutet.
Château Coutet wines age incredibly well, as I have had several of these bottling back to the 1980s. There is a certain elegance to these wines that impresses me. Great vintages such as 2007 and 2011 show a wonderful degree of opulence as well alongside the bright minerality. If you have never tried any older Château Coutet, I implore you to seek these wines out. I recently had the chance to visit their famed estate and taste with their winemaker, who has previously worked in Napa and had never worked with dessert wines prior to coming to Château Coutet. He is doing a sensational job with his latest set of new releases. Over the past few months I not only have had the chance to visit Coutet but also try several of their older wines with friends and through my personal collection. Here are my notes from the sensational wines from Château Coutet that I have tasted both at their chateau and over the several months as part of my vertical.
1989 Château Coutet Barsac- This is the second time in several years that I have enjoyed this wine. The bottle that I enjoyed at Château Coutet with their winemaker showed quite a bit better than the first bottle that I purchased at auction. The ’89 Coutet nose is quite evolved with a bit of oxidation. Honey and ripe pineapple with apricot aromas come together with nutmeg accents. The palate shows really good richness and intensity which makes it difficult to believe this wine is thirty years old, Apricot marmalade, ripe pineapple, creme brûlée and butterscotch flavors come together in the glass with wild mushroom undertones. Showing serious range and intensity, this gorgeous wine has a minute long finish that completes the package. Drink 2019-2035- 96
1997 Château Coutet Barsac- The 1997 Château Coutett is drinking marvelously at more than twenty years of age.Taken from this great vintage in Sauternes, this opens with wonderful marzipan, lemon cream, kumquat and pineapple aromas that all connect vividly in the glass. The palate shows a silky texture and wonderful viscosity. The freshness and elegance of this wine is compelling as tertiary notes are settling in on the palate with wild mushroom that collide with the stony undertones. Vanilla creme brûlée and lemon curd with mango flavors all are mingling nicely now. While this is showing beautifully now, this still has another decade to go. Drink 2019-2029- 94
2003 Château Coutet Barsac- Tasted from a 1.5L, the 2003 Château Coutet is a revelation in this warm vintage. The bouquet of honey and vanilla creme brûlée with butterscotch infused pineapple accents gives this an exotic edge. Hugely viscous, this downright massive Sauternes shows an incredibly rich texture, leading to an exceedingly long cream and mineral-driven finish. This 2005 is just a massive contrast to the ’05 Coutet. While not lacking in weight, this beautiful wine still has a long way to go in the cellar. Drink 2019-2032- 95
2005 Château Coutet Barsac- The 2005 Château Coutett is a silky blend of 75% Semillon with 23% Sav Blanc and 2% Muscadelle. Sourced from their limestone based soil, the wine was aged 18 months (70% new) in French oak. I love the elegance imparted on the nose as this opens with aromas of bananas foster, creme brulee, golden delicious apple and vanilla cream and shades of star jasmine. There are flavors of lemon/lime, creme brulee, butterscotch, and candied Meyer lemon. This is incredibly balanced and has a dry, saline streak. This seamless wine will drink brilliantly into the next decade. Drink 2019-2032- 95
2006 Château Coutet Barsac- The nose here shines with persimmon and apricot jelly with creme brûlée tones. Showing off an unctuous character the wine has a good freshness that runs through with not the richness of other vintages of Coutet but the 2006 still shows solid concentration. Vanilla creme brulee, marzipan, beeswax and ripe pineapple flavors all come together nicely in the glass. While not my favorite vintage of this wine, this is showing nicely right now and will cellar well for another decade. Drink 2019-2026- 92
2007 Château Coutet Barsac- The 2007 Château Coutet is only an infant at more than ten years old. While drinking quite young, this elegant wine is absolutely dazzling in its youth. On the nose this takes on lemon zest with candied ginger, ripe pineapple and lighter earthy undertones that all build in the glass. The palate is rich and viscous with a wonderful sense of minerality. Bright mango with vanilla cream, pineapple and shades of nutmeg infused golden delicious apple flavors all magically appear together, shining brightly. Seriously good at the twelve year mark, this will only get better with some time in the bottle. Drink 2020-2035- 95
2009 Château Coutet Barsac- This was the winemaker’s first vintage at Château Coutet as this gorgeous bottling was enjoyed at the winery. The nose shows really good petrol elements with pineapple with beeswax, ginger and apricot jelly. The texture is seriously good with moderate sweetness. Roasted pineapple upside down cake flavors with honey and raison coming in complete this beautiful ten year old wine that shows good verve. Fresh and intense, this has an exceedingly long finish for nearly a minute. Seductive and bright, this will have a long life in the cellar. Drink 2019-2039- 95
2011 Château Coutet Barsac- The 2011 Château Coutet is a remarkable wine that still needs some time to fully evolve. That said, it is stunning wine to enjoy in its youth. A beam of wet stone and salinity runs through the palate, showing a plush texture and dazzling sense of minerality. Ripe mango, vanilla bean creme brûlée and candied ginger flavors are all delighting the senses at this stage in development. Try to resist this seriously good bottling for at least another three to five more years. Drink 2023-2040- 94
2014 Château Coutet Barsac- The 2014 Château Coutet is nowhere near being ready but it still a delight to savor in its youth. On the nose this takes on quite complex aromas of butterscotch, nutmeg and ripe pineapple with ginger and mango accents that all collide once in the glass. The palate has a wonderful tension and light salinity that runs through the wine. Highly elegant, this leads with tropical and orchard fruit flavors with butterscotch and creme brûlée flavors rounding out the palate. Enjoy this beautiful wine in the next five plus years. Drink 2023-2040- 94