Loire trip 2014: Domaine Huet – A legend in Vouvray

This is my second visit to Domaine Huet, a producer that is taking up much space in my wine cellar and has given me some fantastic Chenin Blanc experiences. The estate is one of the most internationally renowned and has done much to put Vouvray on the international wine map.

Lately much has been said and written about the departure of Noël Pinguet who ran the estate from 1976 to 2012. Many have speculated about the reason for Noël’s decision to leave earlier than first announced and how this will affect the profile of the estate. I do not have any more details in these matters, so instead I will focus on the wines tasted. Today Jean-Bernard Berthomé, who has spent more than thirty years at the estate, has taken over after Noël Pinguet.

Some short notes about the domains principles for winemaking:

  • Usually 50% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel and 50% in wood
  • Ageing in wooden barrels, where only 5% are new
  • Certified biodynamic and limit the use of SO2
  • Cold stabilize the wine to better control the fermentation process

The estate has a beautiful cellar that is approximately 30 meters below the Le Mont vineyard, and you can see the roots from the vineyard reaching down in the cellar.

Domaine Huet produce single vineyard wines from three vineyard properties. These vineyards are: Le Haut-Lieu which usually produces wines that are fruit forward and approachable, Le Mont that renders elegant and feminine wines, often with very precise acidity, and Clos du Bourg that renders wines with more structure and some power, the latter with fantastic ageing potential.

The wines tasted 

2010 Pétillant Brut

Very fruity and generous nose with lots of pears, but also some quite direct citric notes.

Quite dry in the mouth and with less fruit than on the nose.

This is a very precise and fresh pétillant with a quite accessible and welcoming nose.

89p/100

 

2007 Méthode Traditionelle Brut

Quite slim and tight nose where the citric acidity takes the lead but there are also notes of bread.

Very nice and quiet moderate mousse and a surprisingly sweet finish. A wine with a quite direct and precise acidity.

88p/100

 

1999 Méthode Traditionelle Brut

Beautiful golden colour.

The nose has an interesting mix of honey and hints of whiskey notes.

Even though it is an older vintage, the acidity is quite dominant and a bit austere. The fruit stays in the background and there are notes of wool and hints of oxidation.

I realise that this tasting note sounds quite negative, but I have to say that the wine also has lots of personality and it quite intriguing.

87-88p/100

 

2013 Le Haut Lieu Sec

They recommend a minimum of one hour of decanting for these young wines.

A quite juicy and fleshy wine both in nose and taste, with pineapple, pears and some citric notes.

The acidity first stays in the background, but in the end it takes a more dominant position and adds some grip and energy.

This is a quite careful wine that still has some character.

89p/100

 

2013 Clos du Bourg Sec

The wine has an expressive nose with lots of tropical fruit and honey in the beginning and floral notes in the background.

A similar expression also appear on the palate where we also find apples, pears and minerals.

This is a quite round and generous wine where the fruit takes the central position.

91p/100

 

2013 Le Mont Sec

The wine has a fantastic coolness over the nose and it a bit citric and floral but otherwise quite closed now.

The taste is fist dominated by lemon and acidity but there are also minerals and some fruit that comes forward after a while. There are some notes of pear and hints of exotic fruit, but mainly citrus.

The acidity is almost a bit too much now but at the same time it is extremely precise and adds energy to the wine. The wine should develop fantastically in the cellar when the acidity calms down and gets more integrated.

91-92p/100.

 

2007 Le Mont Demi-Sec

From a good vintage both in terms of quality and quantity. Residual sugar of 24g/l.

Generous nose with honey, wool, floral notes and an abundance of quite ripe exotic fruit.

Again lots of honey and pure fruit on the palate but it is also well balanced and supported by a fresh and precise acidity.

This is a fantastic wine that we could spend hours with. Depths and complexity.

93p/100

2003 Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec

From a warm vintage which resulted in quite low levels of acidity. Residual sugar of 28 g/l.

Fantastic golden colour to the wine.

The nose is quite fleshy and very generous with notes of ripe exotic fruit and honey.

Acidity is quite low which results in a wine that is quite heavy and lacks some energy to carry the quite dense fruit notes.

88p/100

 

2009 Clos du Bourg Moelleux

Residual sugar of 55 g/l. 

Complex nose with honey, fresh plums and some floral notes. Well balanced and never too much.

A beautiful tingling acidity, dominated by lime, takes the front seat on the palate, and balances the sugar.

This wine is amazingly fresh for a Moelleux and it has a fantastic softness in the mouth. A beautiful and graceful wine with fantastic potential.

92-93p/100

 

2009 Le Mont Moelleux

Beautiful nose, which opens with honey and apricot but then also shows spicy notes like cinnamon. Intriguing and quite complex nose.

The palate begins with sweet honey notes but shortly after fresh mouthwatering lime acidity takes charge and gives the wine a fresh, long and energetic finish.

This wine never gets to fleshy and powerful. It is all about elegance, freshness and precision. A beautiful effort.

94p/100

 

2006 Clos du Bourg Moelleux Première Trie

This botrytis wine had been kept in a decanter for more than a week when we tried it.

Both nose and palate is dominated by a sweet and rather dense honey. Acidity is calm and tingling and gives a backbone to the wine.

A very rich and generous wine of which you only can take small sips at a time. It has complexity and charm but lacks some precision.

90-91p/100

2003 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux Premiere Trie 

Residual sugar of 85 g/l.

There are clear notes of wool, jam, honey, cinnamon and other spices on this generous nose.

Dense and thick on the palate with lots of honey. This wine is more about complexity than freshness and elegance.

91-92p/100

 

Summary

A tasting at Domaine Huet is always a fantastic experience where you get the chance to make a journey through vintages and vineyards. I have very high regards for Huet and their wines, which are elegant, of high quality and transparent to their origin.

This visit was another positive experience and I am looking forward to returning in the future.

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