1989 Chateau Coutet a Barsac, Sauternes-Barsac, Premier Grand Cru Classe, White Bordeaux Sweet Wine, France.
The beautiful amber tinted golden 1989 Coutet is a refined expression of Sauternes-Barsac at a perfect stage in its life, it is joyous in the glass being lush and toffeed, but with a finessed sense of fruit plus a hint of exotic flavors, making it lovely with holiday meals, both lightly sweet dishes and or more savory ones. I’ve had many older, as well as newer vintages of Coutet, and have tasted with Aline Baly, of Chateau Coutet, who says Chateau Coutet is best served chilled, the cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. The wine will naturally warm in the glass, she adds, while it develops more aromatic complexities and fleshes out. Chateau Coutet can also, as Baly advocates, be served with seafood dishes, especially shellfish, lobster, crab and oysters on the half shell, which I shared with her and had three different years (of Coutet), which worked wonderfully in somewhat a surprise. Plus, Baly notes, that Foie Gras is a perfect pairing with Coutet’s naturally sweet opulence. Like Riesling, Sauternes can be enjoyed with spicy Asian cuisine, raw fish, like sushi or sashimi, and cheeses, with Chateau Coutet being a fine companion to these things, not just as a dessert pairing. In this day and age, sometimes, we tend to overlook these exciting wines and after re-visiting them, like this one, it becomes clear we should not do so and that we should find a place for them in our lives.
This 1989 shows an array of flavors with a mature caramel character and aging fruit essences including dried apricot, pear tart, candied oranges, lemon curd, creme brûlée and light floral notes as well as delicate tropical fruits and non noble rot honeycomb. After air there are secondary elements that come through that shows as earthiness and that cuts into the sweetness and the gives even more complexity and there is enough life still to give the texture a feeling lightness, which cuts the sweetness. With the cuisine this beauty delivers a toast note, apple butter, ginger spice, a touch of raisin, tanginess and vanilla, getting more dense and vinous, but not losing its class or elegance of form. This Coutet as in most years was made from late harvest grapes, all very careful hand picked and from a blend that likely about 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle and aged in barrel. Château Coutet was recognized as a Classified First Growth in the 1855 classification, but the history goes back much further, in fact its history started in 1643, and Barsac, among the coldest in the region, is one of the greatest for this style of wine, and these days this area offers great value, especially Coutet, who have been connected with the winemaking team from Château Mouton Rothschild since 1994. This 1989 is a nice treat indeed and there are many ex-cellar bottles available, which show excellent quality and well worth searching out.
($75+ Est. 375ml Half Bottle) 92 Points, grapelive