I’d be interested to know if Coutet has ever experimented with reverse osmosis or cryoextraction, which I am aware some Sauternes producers use. If not, any general views on these wine-making methods?
I love Coutet, the wines are so charming and throb with stylish complexity - top bunny kit.
First off, thanks for being one our fans and thanks for your question.
For the Barsac and Sauternes AOCs reverse osmosis is not authorized. However, cryoextraction is permitted and indeed used by certain producers. At Coutet, we do not use this technique.
It is better to not make any wine if nature doesn’t give you the conditions which will lead to the right ripeness (condition #1) and the Noble Rot to right concentration of juices (condition #2). Botrytis cinerea is important to achieve the necessary concentration levels (that results in a production of about 1 wine glass per vigne, versus a dry white/red wine that produce a bottle per vigne) but more importantly the fungus, via an chemical reaction with the berry, contributes specific aromas to our wine. With no botrytis, you are simply losing the complexity associated with a wine derived from our appellation. For us, Coutet is a first growth whose story started way before my grand-father decided to embark on the retirement project that everyone dreams of – we are responsible for continuing a story that started in 1643! If you produce a vintage that doesn’t meet the quality expected of those that associate a certain style/characteristic…then we’ve jeopardized the work of those that came before us. Let’s face it – there are some thing that technology can’t do better than nature – in our case, we like nature’s concentration agent (the Botrytis) better than a machine to make our 1er Grand Cru Classe.
I will just add that everyone has their own approach and therefore there is no right or wrong path – it all depends on the result you seek to achieve. Therefore, the fact that we have technology is a good thing – it provide more options for all the producers of our region.
Many thanks for your reply which made me distinctly pleased. I view techniques such as cryoextraction with a degree of suspicion. It seems to be a heavy handed piece of oenological manipulation and I am of the opinion that a light hand in the winery is the best way of producing a complex, subtle, fine wine that transparently speaks of its origins. Your wine-making philosophy seems far more enlightened. Coutet wines have always struck me as being suffused with beauty and finesse - I look forward to the next time I pop a bottle.
Thanks again for your reply.