Why is this Wine so Yummy?
If the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley is the home of Chenin Blanc, Domaine Huet is one of Chenins Parents!
These are entrancing wines of incredible beauty, superb balance, layering & complexity.
From pristine dry wines to insane sweet wines that rival the best German Rieslings and Sauternes they are spectacular wines!
Tasting the wines from Domaine Huet for the first time at a crowded trade event gave a moment of peace amongst the crazed glasses thrusting forward for a pour of the next wine and a room of wine tragics trying not to spit on each other!
“…among the finest white wines on earth, rivalled only for longevity, and for the beauty of its cellar metamorphoses, by Riesling.” Andrew Jefford
The Sec, dry wines, have remarkable balance and energy, the transparency and vitality pulsate through them. Incredibly drinkable now they beautiful acid and core of fruit will see them stand the test of time. The élévage here is excellent. Many Chenins come across raw in their youth. Not so for those of Huet. Delicate, yet, intense, they dance across your palate. Pristine with such beautiful fine mouthfeel. The perfume and florals rising from the glass entrance, with layers of baking spice, apricot and pear forming the backbone. Superb wines.
The Moulleaux, sweet and botrytis wines, have exceptional balance and refinement. The 1er Trie versions are stunning. The juicy natural acid playing an important role in keeping them fresh.
Producteur de qualité exceptionnelle Le Classement 2019
(One of only seven Loire producers at this highest level)
“No matter what the vintage or the wine style (including sparkling), the quality [chez Domaine Huet] is always extraordinary and clearly reflects the excellence of their terroirs. The chiseled, contoured mouthfeel and precise minerality are unique in the Loire.” La Revue du Vin de France
“Domaine Huet’ means ‘I make the best damn Chenin Blanc on the planet’ …” Mike Steinberger
About Domaine Huet
Widely considered to be the single greatest Vouvray domaine and one of the foremost white wine producers in the world today, Domaine Huet should require little introduction. The film below shares an interview Huet’s Noël Pinguet walking through the Clos du Borg
Domaine Huet was founded in 1928 by Victor Huet, however, it was his son, Gaston, who was to make this Estate one of the greatest France had ever known. Gaston worked with his father until 1937, after which he took full control. Over the next five decades, Gaston drove the Huet name to greater and greater heights. He inherited the Haut-Lieu vineyard and went on to purchase Clos du Bourg in 1953 and the Le Mont site in 1957. These three great terroirs were the foundations on which Domaine Huet’s reputation was forged. In 1971, Noël Pinguet, Gaston’s son-in-law, joined the Estate and another era began. Together, Gaston and Noël continued the progress of the estate. It was Pinguet who converted the vineyards to biodynamics in the late 80s, and put greater emphasis on the purity and precision of the wines. Jean-Bernard Berthomé, who at the time was chef du culture of Domaine Huet and is the Estate’s current winemaker, was the driving force behind the Huet’s advancement in biodynamic farming.
When Gaston Huet passed in 2002, Pinguet sought a financial partner and in 2003, Anthony Hwang, a New York based businessman, invested in the Estate. The Hwang family continued to work with Noël Pinguet for a decade until the latter’s retirement in 2012. Today the vineyards and cellars of the Estate are managed by Jean-Bernard Berthomé, who has played an integral role at Domaine Huet since 1979. Assisting Berthomé is Benjamin Joliveau, who has worked at the estate since 2008 and was hand picked by Noël Pinguet. Sarah Hwang heads up the business side of things in her role as President. It is really an exceptional team as anyone in the region will tell you. It seems clear that we have now entered yet another exciting era in the history of Domaine Huet. The Hwang family has already proven that they are committed to the continued, positive evolution of the Estate and have spared no expense to this end. As Francois Chidaine recently told us, the Huet legacy is “…in very good hands”.
In the Vineyard
Biodynamic practices started in 1988 and by 1990, all of the vineyards were fully BD. Even before this, no herbicides or chemical fertilisers were utilised. Domaine Huet has holdings across three exceptional terroirs.
Le Haut Lieu
The 9 ha Le Haut Lieu vineyard sits on deep brown clay (known as aubuis) with some chalky topsoil. Here the yellow limestone (tuffeau) bedrock lies up to four metres down, making a heavier soil that produces round, supple wines that can drink very well young. That’s not to say the wine of Le Haut Lieu don’t have the capacity to age deliciously. We have enjoyed bottles from the 40’s that are still drinking very well!
Le Clos du Bourg
This walled vineyard is perhaps Vouvray’s most revered site (along with Clos Baudin). Generally regarded as the greatest of the three Huet vineyards, it makes some of the most powerful, long lived wines in Vouvray in both dry and sweet. With only a shallow top soil over solid tuffeau limestone, the vines almost immediately tap into the rich mineral bedrock, resulting in powerful, dense, yet very mineral and long-lived Chenin. The walls of the Clos are also said to help facilitate a more humid macro-climate favourable to botrytis. Accordingly, some legendary sweet wines have been produced here.
Le Mont is a steep, rocky, 8-hectare vineyard that sits atop the chalky Vouvray hillside, overlooking Tours. The soils are very stony (limestone) and there is a greenish band of calcareous clay running close to the surface. This is a site that typically produces mineral and nervy wines so it is mostly dry and off dry whites that are produced from Le Mont.
In the Winery
Grapes are picked by hand in multiple ‘tries’ (passes through the vineyard). There is a selection both on the vines and then on a sorting table in the vineyard. The fruit is then gently whole bunch pressed. This pressing is famously slow and very gentle. There is one day of settling and then the wine is put directly to very old demi-muid (600lt barrels). There are no additions; Huet never chaptalizes or adds yeasts. Fermentation is stopped by refrigeration at the point where the perfect sugar/acid balance has been achieved and the wine is filtered and bottled with a small dose of sulphur (25ppm).
The wines of Domaine Huet are bottled and labelled according to their three vineyard sites described above. Each vineyard expresses unique characteristics and each can be made in 3 styles, subject to vintage conditions: Sec (bone dry), Demi-Sec (off dry, typically 10-20 g/lt residual) and Moelleux (slightly sweeter at approximately 30 g/lt). If the vintage allows, each vineyard may also produce a Moelleux 1er Trie (the first picking of botrytised berries) that produces a wine with residual sugar of about 60-100 g/lt and yet also with very high acidity. Like all great “sweet” wines of the world, the wines from demi sec onwards taste deceptively dry because of the terrific sugar/acid balance. These are excellent food wines and should not be thought of as “dessert wines” to be served exclusively at the end of the meal. Rather they are far better served throughout the meal or with delicate cheeses. The exception is the “super cuvée” Cuvée Constance which is only made in the greatest sweet wine years from a blend of the most concentrated botrytised fruit from all three vineyards. This is truly one of the great sweet wines of the world and is best served with dessert or cheese.
A Chenin Blanc Primer
Just like Riesling, Chenin is capable of producing an incredibly diverse range of wines from fresh dry (sec), to botrytised sweet wines of insane complexity.
Similar to German Riesling’s Trocken, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese et al., Chenin from the Loire has a classification system related to sugar levels.
- Sec (dry)
- Demi-Sec (off dry) typically 15-25 g/lt residual
- Moelleux (slightly sweeter) at approximately 40-50 g/l.
- Moelleux 1er Trie (the first picking of botrytised berries) that produces a wine with residual sugar of about 60-100 g/lt and yet also with very high acidity.
The dry wines tend to be mid-weight building a lovely level of opulence as they ages.
Flavours: Watch for the perfume, pear, citus spice, hints of apricot & jasmine in the sec, these wines build complexity as they age. The sweet wines add an array of aromas and flavours not dissimilar to the great Sauternes, ginger, honey, marmalade, patisserie notes, grilled nuts marzipan and beyond. Again as they age complexity builds.
Balance: Huet’s wines have impeccable balance across each of the styles, marrying natural acid and delicious flavours.
Mouthfeel & Texture: When very young they have a lovely texture which becomes luscious and simply put caresses your tongue as they age. As the levels of residual sugar increases the mouthfeel builds yet across the styles remains light and clean.
It’s just so easy to hoover!
When your tasting, think about the 5 elements below, they’ll make it simple and ensure you cover off the important aspects of good wine. We’ll be exploring these in detail in a series of posts for members only soon!
Tips for Drinking these Wines
🌡Temp: 14°C. We tend to drink whites an edge to cold. Don’t drink them straight out of the fridge! Let them warm up a little. They’ll become much more expressive, generous, and, lucious to drink.
🍷Decanting: You might be surprised, but, wines of this quality and youth will benefit from being thrown in a decanter. The air will help them open up. If you’re using a Coravin or other wine preserver, pour enough into each glass to be able to try them over the course of several hours. These young whites will open up and be more expressive with a bit of time in the glass.
⏳Time: I love trying good wines stand alone, with food, and, often the next day. It gives them the chance to shine and ensures you don’t miss a good wine through impatience or fail to bring out it’s best by not marrying them to food.
🕯Cellaring: Like all good Chennins, Huet’s can be incredibly long-lived. In a nutshell, give them 5-10 years and they’ll start to show their potential. Don’t be afraid to go 20 years.
🧀🦐🐟🐓🐖Food Match: The exact match does vary a little according to the wine. The dry and demi-sec wines marry well with white meats, veal, crustaceans, and, fish. The sweeter they become the more suited they are to cheese wine and at the sweeter levels desserts!
The Best 2 Options for Preserving your Wine:
- Grab a Coravin wine preserver.
- Watch this video, “Stop the Wine-ocide” Kaani 2012 – My Deep Dark Secret, one of my first, about saving open bottles of wine from the drain, sorry about the quality, but, the message is still there.
Where in the world is Domaine Huet?
The Loire Valley is scattered over 175,000 acres stretching from the Atlantic Ocean across to central France. Cover such a large region it is natural that it’s been broken down into sub-regions that specialise in the growing of specific varieties. Chenin Blanc is largely grown in the middle-Loire in Anjou-Saumur and Touraine within which Vouvray resides as does Domaine Huet.
The Loire Valley Wine Group produced a quirky little primer for the regions, varieties and styles produced across the Loire Valley.