In July I spent a day making flying visits in Sauternes, to Coutet, Clos Haut Peyraguey and Yquem. Perhaps the major discovery of the day was a tasting of a new wine, poured at Château Coutet by proprietor Aline Baly, called Opalie. I am reminded of this tasting this evening by Twitter activity – prompted by the official launch of Opalie this week.
The first official vintage is 2010, although there was a trial run in 2009, the results of which were not deemed satisfactory and the wine sold off; I think the oak was a little heavy-handed, although Aline didn’t go into details. The name is derived from the plural of opalus, which as Aline explained at the time was a deliberate ‘gemstone’ association. The fruit is sourced “from the best parcels” of the Coutet vineyard, says Aline, unlike the previous dry white, the Vin Sec de Château Coutet, which was always sourced from vines in Pujols, distant to the Coutet vineyard, and thus had the Graves appellation.
The production is limited to 3000 bottles, and the wine is produced in a new cellar equipped solely for this wine. As is the case with all Coutet wines, it has been made with consultation from the Mouton-Rothschild team. And in keeping with this, the price will not be anything other than wallet-busting I think.
Opalie de Château Coutet (Bordeaux) 2010: A blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. Aromatically this is fresh, fruit-rich and fragrant. A very confident nose, showing Semillon rather than Sauvignon Blanc character. There are notes of honeyed white flowers, but also some new oak here. The palate is full with a creamy edge to it, showing golden fruit bound by a marked oaky grip and some solid substance from the 14.5% alcohol perhaps. Substantially framed, with good acidity and a solid, grippy finish. But I find the oak to be dominating the character of the wine somewhat; otherwise my score would be higher I think, as the raw materials are very good. 16/20 (July 2012)
Speaking (if that’s the correct verb) with Jancis Robinson and Jeannie-Cho Lee on Twitter, both felt the oak to be less obtrusive than I did, with Jancis suggesting it may have integrated over the last few months. I hope I get a chance to retaste to see if that’s the case.