Château Couhins-Lurton launches limited edition plot-based cuvée, Acte II
Last week, a handful of French-based journalists gathered in the Monsieur Dior restaurant in Paris to mark with Jacques Lurton the launch of Château Couhins-Lurton’s new limited edition plot- and terroir-based cuvée, Acte II.
The first two releases are the 2020 White and the 2019 Red.
Crucial to understanding the philosophy of these new releases is that Acte II is not a second wine, but a distinct cuvée carved from the terroirs of the classified growth Château Couhins-Lurton. The aim is to produce a different expression of the exceptional terroirs of this great estate, a wine in its own right and with its own distinct identity. As such, and as Jacques Lurton explained to me, Acte II has been created through a parcel-by-parcel selection designed to produce a wine rather different in profile from Couhins-Lurton itself.
Deploying an almost Burgundian approach and with his characteristic precision, Jacques Lurton, winemaker and group president of Les Vignobles André Lurton, has chosen complementary parcels to be expressed together, placing a particular focus on soil composition, orientation and the age of the vines. In the cellar too, the grapes benefit from different vinification methods. The wines are fermented and aged in a combination of purpose-designed horizontal sandstone amphoras (around 70%), 500 litre barrels and in vats. The use of amphoras is particularly distinctive, bringing a detail and precision to the wine and allowing each of these monocépage wines to express its grape varietal with great purity. This enhances the sensation of tension, energy and minerality in each wine, without modifying the pH or acidity. More technically, the relatively low micro-porosity of the sandstone walls of the amphora helps to preserve the organoleptic qualities of the wine.
As Jacques Lurton explains, “With Acte II, I wanted to show a much more marked freshness of fruit, both on the nose and on the palate. The wood is in the background, as the wine ages mainly in non-wooden containers. The palate is round, with a complexity and tension created by these fresh fruit notes. Acte II is made for early drinking. It will appeal to consumers who do not want to wait several years for a grand cru”.
These limited production wines are largely destined for the restaurant market, though a small proportion of the total production will be available in the UK through selected merchants and retailers.
- Acte II de Couhins Lurton blanc 2020 (Pessac-Léognan; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; from selected north-eastern exposed parcels on clay and gravel, fermented and aged for 8 months in amphoras and oak barrels; around 4,000 bottles produced; 13.5% alcohol; tasted three times, with the wine showing better each time). The first ever vintage of this wine. Lovely bright, authentically Pessac nose – assorted citrus notes, orange blossom, grapefruit pith, jasmine and almond shell; and quite salty too. Fresh, but impressively rich on the palate too (accentuated by the pronounced saline minerality) – with a nice, if needed, tension between the two. Not the length of the grand vin, but what I really like here is that the freshness always wins the battle with the richness, stopping this ever shading towards the sometimes characteristic heaviness of white Pessac in this vintage. Crisp, energetic, stylish with a lovely suggestion of sea-spray and iodine on the finish. An impressive debut. Drink: 2022-26. 90.
- Acte II de Couhins-Lurton rouge 2019 (100% Merlot; from selected north-western exposed parcels on clay and gravel, fermented and aged for 9 months in amphoras and tanks; around 10,000 bottles produced; 15% alcohol; tasted three times with consistent notes). Pure, fresh, bright and crunchy – in that new classical style. On the nose, there is an impressive purity and sense of lift to this and on the palate this is more concentrated than you would expect. Plum skin, damson and mulberry and then, with more air, sloes and a hint of green Szechuan pepper. Soft, gentle, svelte and finely-textured, this showcases the fine Merlot of Couhins-Lurton extremely well. Drinking beautifully already and still with more to come. 89+.