First built as a fortress, Château Coutet still bears the stamp of its medieval origins. The square tower with its battlements, located in the centre of the courtyard, is typical of military constructions of the time. The following centuries also left their mark on the architecture: the Salasse (or Salace) – a fortified house – bears witness to the architectural style of the 14th century. The chapel and two other towers show how the estate evolved during the 18th century.
A winemaking estate
The history of Château Coutet as a winemaking estate starts in 1643, when Charles Le Guérin, known as Lord of Coutet, made it one of the first vineyards in the Sauternes appellation. The estate remained in the hands of his descendants until 1788.
Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, lived in France for a number of years, serving as ambassador there from 1785 to 1789. A true gourmet, he was also a wine merchant and wrote travel diaries from great French wine-producing regions. A man of good sense, he acknowledged Château Coutet as "the best Sauternes in Barsac."
The Lur-Saluces family
Gabriel-Barthelemy Romain de Filhot acquired Château Coutet just before the French Revolution. After those troubled times, the estate passed to his grandson, Marquis Romain-Bertrand de Lur-Saluces. Also the owner of Châteaux d'Yquem, de Fargues, Filhot and de Malle, he was the largest producer of sweet white wine in the world at the time. Château Coutet remained in the family until the 1920s.
Following a number of informal rankings, the 1855 classification ordered by Napoleon III was issued for the Universal Exposition. It officially recognised Château Coutet as one of the Classified First Growths of the Sauternes and Barsac appellations, alongside the finest wines from the Médoc and Graves regions.
The Guy family
Henry-Louis Guy, an industrialist from Lyon, acquired Château Coutet in the 1920s. The famous and unrivalled Guy & Mittal hydraulic presses, still in use, stand as a memento of his time there, holding the secret to the extraction of juice from the estate’s best grapes. His daughter, who later married Edmond Rolland, managed the estate until 1977. The tradition of an exceptional wine in her honour, the Cuvée Madame, persists to this day.
The Baly family
Marcel Baly and two of his sons, Philippe and Dominique, became the new owners of Château Coutet in 1977. Originally from Alsace, the family subsequently expanded overseas, especially in the United States.
With zeal and determination, they set about the task of renewing the vineyard and the winery buildings.
In 1994, the two brothers concluded an agreement with Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA. The winemaking team is now advised by the technical staff from Château Mouton Rothschild. At the same time they entered into a commercial agreement for the exclusive distribution of the estate’s wines.
The first vintage of Opalie
Drawing on their detailed knowledge of the Château Coutet terroir and its potential, the Baly family set a new challenge for themselves: creating a great dry white wine. Applying the same standards as for their premium wine, and after several attempts, they made the first vintage of Opalie in 2010. A small cuvée from the estate's older vines, it offers the characteristic freshness of Château Coutet in a new expression of its liveliness.
The Baly family has now been at work at Château Coutet for forty years. A good opportunity to celebrate the progress made, the anniversary was marked by critical acclaim: Château Coutet 2014 was ranked third in the Top 100 World Wines published by Wine Spectator, an achievement which has spurred the team at the estate on to even greater things.