Chenin Blanc is one of the most undervalued white grape varieties around and I have never understood why. I am a huge fan of Chenin so it goes without saying that I was thrilled to hear that Richard Kelley MW, one of the UK’s leading experts on the Loire Valley, was coming to the Goedhuis office to present the most recent vintage of Domaine Huet of Vouvray.
Domaine Huet dates back to 1928 when Victor Huet’s wife Constance fell in love with a little house in Vouvray called Le Haut Lieu, high up on the plateau above Vouvray.
Their son Gaston took over the winemaking after the Second World War. After many years of German occupation the domaine was in need of restoring which Gaston attacked with gusto, expanding the domaine. From the original three hectares Le Haut Lieu grew to become nine. Gaston later added Le Clos du Bourg and Le Mont and became one of the early pioneers in biodynamic farming. Gaston Huet became a legendary winemaker in Vouvray, and in the words of Neal Martin, “The Master of Chenin”. Gaston’s son-in-law Noel Pinguet took over the day-to-day running of the domaine in the 1970s. However with no natural successor (his children are not interested), the domaine was offered for sale and Anthony Hwang took the controlling share. Noel still consults for the domaine.
Domaine Huet is now made up of a total of 35 hectares, of which the single vineyards of Le Haut Lieu, Le Clos du Bourg and Le Mont combine to make 23 hectares. Le Haut-Lieu, on the gravel plateau above Vouvray, produces wines that are upfront and easier to drink young. Le Mont and Le Clos du Bourg vineyards are located on the south-facing slope below Le Haut Lieu on clay soils which slow down the ripening process. Le Mont has the deepest soils and so its wines are the most stubborn and backward needing more time to open out. Le Clos du Bourg wines are similar to Le Haut lieu wines in that they are fleshy and more open but they are also profound aswell.
In Richard’s opinion, the 2008 vintage is up there among the very best and is probably the best demi-sec vintage since 1971. This is despite difficult climatic conditions
leading to loss of production in some cases of up to 50% and the need for non-organic sprays for the first time since 1988. What we noticed about the wines we tried was they had amazing freshness. All the wines were poised with superb balance.
Tasting notes to follow