January 27, 2012 Domaine Huet
Domaine Huet Le Mont
My wife and I have had some terrific white wines over the past month or so. And onto our table has arrived yet another — from one of the definitive wine estates of the Loire Valley.
Domaine Huet Le Mont Vouvray 2010
Pale, clear gold in the glass. A stone fruit clarity, subtle peach and apricot, with mild lemon notes. A touch of sweetness, but showing terrific acidic balance. Clean and fresh with a burst of flavour, near juicy. There’s a solid mineral core that, together with a vein of citrus flavors, makes for a full and lasting taste experience. Remarkably good for one so young. I can only imagine how good it would have been a decade on. $$
Domaine Huet is the benchmark domaine of the Vouvray appellation, situated east of Tours, on the right bank of the Loire. Winemaking in the area dates back many centuries, making Domaine Huet, founded in the 1920s, a relative newcomer.
The history of the domaine is very interesting. Victor Huet was a Paris bistro owner who had fought amid the horrors of mustard gas in WWI and, on the advice of his doctor, left Paris to search for the clearer air of rural France. His wife, Anna-Constance, fell in love with a 3-hectare wine property in the Loire Valley and from it Domaine Huet was born. Victor began a new life as a vigneron, and eventually the property fell to his son Gaston. Within a couple of years Gaston himself was fighting in a war. Captured near Calais in 1940, he spent five years in a prison camp. As hard as life was in the camp, there was relief to be found. Gaston organized a two-week celebration of French winemaking, with wine tasting for 4000 prisoners using bottles they had received from their families across France! With the war’s end Gaston returned to the Loire, and to a neglected domaine. Like its owner, it would be renewed.
Domaine Huet now consists of 35 hectares, 23 of which are made up of three grand cru vineyards in what is known as the “Première Côte” of Vouvray. Our bottle has it origins in the eight hectares of Le Mont, acquired by Gaston in 1957. The soil is deep, underlaid by limestone. The clay surface soil is tinged green and through it are scattered large pebbles of flint. As do the other vineyards, Le Mont has a balance of young and old vines: 15% less than ten years in age, 35% between 10 and 30 years, and the remaining 50% being between 30 and 50 years.
Conversion to biodynamics began in the late 1980s, making it one of the first domaines in France to embrace the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. It was a project initiated by the person now running the property — Noël Pinguet, Gaston’s son-in-law. (Gaston died in 2002. The property was sold in 2003 to financier Anthony Hwang, with Pinguet retaining a 20% stake.) With no heirs interested in eventually taking over the estate, Pinguet has brought on board a young local man, Benjamin Joliveau, the son of one of Pinguet’s vigneron friends. Plans are for Pinguet to retire in a few years, and for the reins to eventually pass, and a new era begin for the venerable Domaine Huet.