Just In Time: 2011 Opalie de Chateau Coutet


It was like a splash of cold water in the face. Bam! World Series over and done, and all memory of summer with it. Throw in a rain shower, the time change, hoops and hockey on the TV, and all of sudden it’s, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Sheesh! I saw it coming, but I sure didn’t feel it coming. My perception of Thanksgiving has changed in recent years, so I’m looking forward to it, but whoa, there’s a lot of stuff to do between here and there! Things that you’re all going to be hearing about soon, like the Anniversary Sale, Thanksgiving itself, and a dinner in January with Chateau Brane Cantenac, are all coming into view; full steam ahead! Since we still have more than a couple of weeks until the fourth Thursday in November, let me tell you about a very special wine that you may find ideal for this fall’s (and beyond) celebrations. Our final allocation of 2011 Opalie de Chateau Coutet is here and ready for you all to enjoy!


This is one of my favorite wines and also one of my favorite stories. I’ve gone on more than once about how much I love White Bordeaux. It can be life-altering. Yes. I meant to say that. The dry white wines of Bordeaux are amazing reflections of terroir when both young and aged. It’s funny that this happened on the same day. I was up in the Medoc tasting red wines at various UGC tastings as well as stopping by a handful of esteemed chateaux to taste their wines. One of these well known, fancy chateaux had recently begun making a dry white wine, and though I liked it okay, my notes do include the word, “imposter.” That same evening I had the great pleasure of dining at Chateau Coutet with Philippe and Aline Baly. After dinner, Philippe brought a bottle to the table. It had no label. He poured a glass and Aline told me that Philippe wanted my impressions. Perfect word. I was impressed. It was rich and opulent, much like Coutet itself. The only difference was it was dry and crisp. It spoke of a place. I told them how much I liked it. They then regaled me with the story of Opalie de Coutet.

Seeking the advice of Philippe Dhalluin of Mouton Rothshild (et al.) fame, they chose a couple of rows of 40 year old vines planted in the thickest layers of clay and limestone in their Premier Cru vineyard to source the fruit for Opalie de Coutet. Blending 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon, it is fermented and aged in oak barrels, 45% of it new. To call it unique would be an understatement. It is truly a one of a kind wine. Production is only a precious 250 cases. We had a great amount of success with the inaugural 2010 vintage of Opalie, selling out our entire allocation in record time. For the 2011, we took our allocation in two lots. The first one came to us back in January. It sold out in February. Our second drop has now arrived, and when it’s gone there’ll be no more.
I got to taste the 2011 Opalie de Coutet for the first time at Coutet along with several wine professionals including Commanderie members and writers, one of which happened to also be an MW. It was a fantastic experience to have a discussion about a young wine that broke down the language barrier from terroir to palate. The quintessential richness of Coutet’s terroir is ever-present in this fresh, zesty, expressive wine. I was and continue to be smitten by Opalie de Coutet.

Fastening my seatbelt here, it is indeed full speed ahead. You will be hearing about the Anniversary Sale soon, and a Bordeaux dinner soon afterwards. But for tonight, it’s all about the 2011 Opalie de Coutet! It’s actually perfect timing. November is a great month for this wine. Crab season is right around the corner, oysters are mighty tasty these days, and the 2011 Opalie de Coutet would be a sensational addition to any Thanksgiving table. Keeping that spirit alive, if the parties and holidays of December call for something special and unique, the Opalie will more than satisfy those criteria. And peeking a bit further into the future, as has been written here before, that Opalie de Coutet is the perfect Valentine’s Day wine. It’s here, for now, so come on by TWH and get yours today!
– Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 2011 Opalie de Coutet, our Anniversary Sale, our upcoming Bordeaux Dinner in January, and of course, footy: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2011 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff

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