I talk a lot here about red Bordeaux wines, but there are other types of wine produced in the Bordeaux region. One of the most well-known is Sauternes, and one of the best known of those is Chateau Coutet.
Sauternes style wine is a blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis Cinerea (also known as noble rot). The Botrytis Cinerea eats at the grapes making them raisin-like in appearance and intensifying the flavor and sweetness of the wine, and giving it a distinctive gold color.
Traditionally thought of as a dessert wine, Sauternes wines actually pair very well with spicy foods and shellfish. In fact, Aline Baly, who conducted the Master Class, prefers drinkers not to think of Sauternes as a dessert wine and instead concentrate on other pairings.
The Chateau Coutet that Aline conducted for the wine club was engaging and informative. Aline is passionate about Sauternes and it comes through in her presentation. She sees herself not just as a representative of Chateau Coutet, but of all of Sauternes, and that night all of Bordeaux.
The class started with background information about the Sauternes region. We got to learn about the soil, the grapes and why Botrytis Cinerea occurs so reliably in that area.
But, more importantly we got to taste three amazing vintages. Aline brought along samples of the 1989, 1998, and 2006 vintages for us to sample. Combine that with the great appetizers Jason, at Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro provided and it made for a great evening.
It was fascinating to see how the wine has changed over the 20 year span. While the basic elements of freshness and acidity with hints of honeysuckle and floral character that are standard in most vintages of Chateau Coutet were present in all vintages, there were some variances. The 2006 had more citrus notes, especially peach, while the 1998 vintage had more character and the 1986 vintage had a deep golden hue with a strong marmalade flavor.
We paired the wines with crab cakes, risotto balls, tuna tartare and several different types of cheeses. And, of course, since we were at Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro we ended the evening with a cork pyramid :).