Of course, if you read wine back labels, spec sheets or winery websites, every winery will tell you that their wine is unique.
This is always going to have some truth in a way, like us people, every wine is somewhat unique: different grapes, different soil, different terroir, different vintage.
But Château Coutet Cuvée Émeri has more than one rare story to claim that tittle of uniqueness!
Watch Château Coutet Émeri’s Story & Tasting Review Notes in Video
If reading is not for you, feel free to hear and watch this wine’s rare story in the video below, with my exclusive tasting notes and impressions too…
Let’s talk about the producer, Château Coutet
Château Coutet is located right among some of the most prestigious Grand Cru properties, climbing uphill on the limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion.
If you remember, that’s where some of the finest Bordeaux wines are extracted from a rare terroir.
A Rare Saint-Emilion terroir
Coutet’s prestigious neighbors include Angélus (an upgrade Premier Grand Cru Classé A during the latest 2012 classification of Saint-Emilion), Château Canon, Couvent des Jacobins, Château Beauséjour Bécot, or Bellevue.
But unlike any of the estates in the area, Chateau Coutet has been owned and operated by the same family of wine makers for over 400 years, since 1601!
Members of the David-Beaulieu family who have been owning the property for this long actually live on the estate in a small hameau around its center.
Organic Viticulture for 14 generations
For this reason perhaps (most certainly in fact), not only the family members have cared enough about Coutet’s jewel estate to hold on to it for 14 generations, but because they love nature and their environment, they’ve put an absolute emphasis on respecting their land using organic farming techniques for 14 generations.
Grape varieties here are composed of ancient forms of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, called Merlot à queue rouge and Bouchet of the same type that were grown centuries ago and passed have been preserved and passed on from generation to generation.
Most wineries buy their vines, clones of the same modern grape type bread and grown at the local nursery. Not at Coutet.
The Merlot a queue rouge and the Bouchet (Cab Franc) are planted at a relatively high density of 6000 plants per hectare on a high point of the Saint-Emilion limestone plateau and going downhill towards the ‘Pied de Côte’.
Among the vines, a quarter of the small 16-ha property (40 acres) is also covered in parcs and woods where a unique biodiversity lives, rare species of flowers, even orchids and the myriad of insects and birds that come with it. All are enjoying the unspoiled terrain where no modern chemicals, pesticide or herbicides has been spread in centuries.
Laboratory testing of the wines made at the property have shown that unlike any other modern wine, Château Coutet’s contain virtually no trace of any chemicals.
This is particularly rare if not unique in Bordeaux where abundance of chemical can be spread in vineyards to compensate for the oceanic climate that tends to be favorable to vine diseases.
But one wine at Coutet, the Émeri Cuvée goes even further and beyond just being organic….
Chateau Coutet’s flagship Émeri Cuvée
To make what is their flagship wine, Coutet selects their oldest vineyards which of course lie on the estate’s best terroirs.
Those are low-yielding 95-year-old vines of Merlot and 67-year-old Cabernet Franc when most vineyards in Bordeaux barely reach their 40s.
The punchline though for Émeri, is that no modern source of power is used to make it
Men and horses provide the power needed to grow the grapes and make the wine.
No gas and virtually no electricity are ever used in the vineyard or the winery (just a few watts to run the antique vertical press confesses Adrien the owner).
This is to ensure not only a minimal impact on the environment but also that the wine genuinely tastes like a traditional Bordeaux Grand Cru would, some decades/centuries ago.
Modern winemaking expertise is used though, to ensure the best is extracted from these natural grapes. Émeri doesn’t claim to be a ‘natural wine’, even though a little sulfite is used and that’s it.
Grapes are de-stemmed by hand by a team of up to 70 workers selecting berries one by one.
While Coutet normally uses 70 pickers to harvest the grapes for their other wines, and 10 to 15 people on the sorting table as the bunches enter the winery.
For Émeri, numbers are reversed. 10-15 pickers harvest, while 70 others destem the grapes!
Yeasts that ferment the wine are the indigenous ‘wild’ ones, before the wine transferred by gravity into French oak barrels where it matures for 18 months, as is traditional in Bordeaux.
Have you ever heard of a wine made in such fashion?
I had not…
A hand-blown glass bottle gives air-tight aging conditions
In the early 2000s, in Chateau Coutet’s underground in the cellar, was found a glass bottle that seemed to have been buried there for a while.
The bottle was still full of wine and sealed with a heart-shaped glass stopper. Probably a special wedding bottling of Coutet winemakers.
Experts dated the origin of this bottle to circa 1750, making it the oldest unbroken and full bottle of wine ever found in Saint-Emilion, probably even the whole of the Bordeaux region.
I have seen the bottle myself while visiting Coutet. The surprising fact is that the wine level inside the bottle is as high as it was when bottled some 270 years ago.
The beverage still looks surprisingly vibrant and red too.
This is because the ground-glass stopper has provided the wine with perfect air-tight aging conditions, preserving the wine’s integrity for these nearly three centuries.
To reproduce these rare air-tight aging conditions and pay tribute to this exceptional artifact found at Coutet, the Chateau asked one of the best glassblowers in France to craft an absolutely identical bottle.
Together they spent 4 years developing the bottle to find the exact same glass composition and shape, and to perfect the seal and aesthetic of the heart stopper.
The cuvée Émeri was born… Believed to be ready to withstand time and preserve the flavors of Coutet’s best grapes for many decades.
Where to Find & Buy Chateau Coutet Cuvée Émeri?
Only about 200 bottles of Coutet Cuvée Émeri are made every year.
Not even that in fact. That’s in a good vintage. Organic farming and recent climatic events in Bordeaux do not always allow for the required quality to be reached each vintage.
The exceptional 2016 vintage is available through the Alti Wine Exchange, a fine and rare wine investment platform that stores its wines at Bordeaux City Bond.
You can learn more about Alti Wine Exchange and the Coutet Initial Bottle Offering on ibo-chateau-coutet.altiwineexchange.com
My thoughts and review of the Cuvée Émeri and the 2016 Cuvée Demoiselles (the same wine bottled in a standard bottle under cork) in the wine presentation video above.
Chateau Coutet’s Cuvée Émeri Short Presentation Video Below