|White Bordeaux is one of the wine world’s true treasures. Produced in tiny quantities compared to their red counterparts, the wines offer a vast array of complexity, the ability to pair with a litany of dishes, and a surprising ability to age. Some white Bordeaux wines can last for years and years if properly stored, and still dazzle the olfactory sense and palate with exciting nuances. The wines have a dedicated following, thus making them difficult to source.
|Last summer, Barsac First Growth Château Coutet introduced us to their 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet. It marked the inaugural vintage of the château’s very special dry white wine, produced in very small quantity. The Wine House San Francisco was the first merchant in the world to offer this special wine (on a pre-arrival basis), and the response from our customers was overwhelming! The 2010 Opalie sold out shortly after arrival, and judging from the feedback we have received, a great many of you have been charmed by this gem of a wine. One good turn deserves another, so just like the 2010, please allow us to introduce the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet!
|Again, this is a very special dry white Bordeaux. The 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet comes from the quintessential parts of the Grand Cru vineyards. Sourced from a few rows of 40 year old vines, sitting on the thickest layers of clay and limestone, the fruit is hand selected and harvested using small baskets for collection, so as not to bruise the grapes. It is comprised of half Sémillon and half Sauvignon Blanc, the former providing the depth and richness, with the latter contributing liveliness and verve. The wine is fermented and aged for 9 months in 45% new French oak barrels. It is an elegant, harmonious dry white wine that displays Coutet’s inherent richness framed by crisp minerality and freshness.
The 2011 vintage heavily favored those growing white grapes in Bordeaux. Warm weather in April sped up vineyard activity by two weeks, and the dry weather forced the vines to dig deep into the clay and limestone for nutrients. Cooler weather in summer was beneficial for the grapes to achieve the proper levels of acidity. That was followed by a warm, sunny Indian summer which provided the ideal conditions in which to harvest. In other words, if you prefer dry white wines with good mineral definition and harmonious balance of fruit and acid, the 2011 vintage in Bordeaux is for you! (If you’re a fan of Bordeaux’s Gold Wines, aka Sauternes and Barsac, 2011 is for you too. The 2011 was the best Château Coutet barrel sample I have ever tasted.)
|I was lucky enough to taste the 2011 Opalie back in April at Château Coutet, with a table full of wine enthusiasts (including, at least, one MW!). Pale straw-like in color, the wine had rich aromas of citrus blossoms and stony minerals with that hint of a beeswax shadow. The oak barrel regimen has lessened from 60% new to 45% from the 2010 vintage, and that is recognizable on both the aromatics and palate. The palate is deep and rich, the citrusy Sauvignon Blanc bracing the complex elements of the Sémillon. It is a truly unique tasting experience, the richness from the esteemed Coutet terroir in a dry wine. Compared to their 2010 bottling, the 2011 seemed to have less oak spice on the nose, yet the barrel’s influence was still present in the wine’s texture, which again, seemed to be brighter and even more fresh than the 2010! There were smiles and praise all around the table as the Opalie de Château Coutet is a one-of-a-kind wine. Class and distinction.
Production of the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet is very small, just 250 cases.We have received our allocation, and are happy and grateful to be the first US merchant to offer this wine to all of you! We are selling the 2011 Opalie on a pre-arrival basis. The first half of our allocation has arrived, but it has sold out to those who purchased the wine on pre-arrival. The balance will arrive sometime in early 2014. Here’s another chance to be the first on your block with the brand new vintage, introducing the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet!!! – Peter Zavialoff