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Sauternes #4: Chateau Coutet 1998

Despite a healthy line-up of bottles from the 2001 vintage waiting in the wings, I thought it was about time I broke it up a little with a look at something different. Today I’m glancing back a further three years, to 1998.

The 1998 vintage is not one that generally sends shivers down my spine when it comes to Sauternes and Barsac, even though I think the wines of neighbouring Pessac-Léognan and Graves are under-rated in this vintage. So I was impressed with the show put on by this half-bottle of 1998 Château Coutet. Sure, it doesn’t provoke the electric excitement of other vintages of a similar age, be they 1997, 1999 or indeed 2001, but there is certainly plenty of substance and interest here. A job well done, I would say.

Château Coutet 1998

Château Coutet (Sauternes) 1998: An appealing, golden hue in the glass. It shows an impressive character for the vintage, aromatically rich, concentrated orange fruit overlaid with scents of honey-caramel and praline. Although not the most direct or defined palate, there is certainly plenty of rich texture here, and also lots of flavour to match the character found on the nose. There is a raft of substance, with a tangible minerally, barley-water build to it, and on top of that more of the praline and toffee seen on the nose. It is all cut through with some good acidity, although nothing like what would be required to give this the energy and vigour of a great vintage. Having said that, this is one of the more convincing 1998 Sauternes I have tasted. And it seems, with this evolution, to be just as appealing as previous bottles. 16.5/20 (February 2013)

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