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Domaine Huet

Domaine Huet

Breathtaking Chenin Blanc from a Biodynamic Icon

What a joy to be able to work with, offer and drink, the wondrous wines, young and old, of such a legendary producer. The story of this illustrious Vouvray Estate pivots on an axis of three great single vineyards; on the enigmatic variety, Chenin Blanc; on a unique limestone soil (tuffeau); and on a well-honed, perfectionist, viticultural and winemaking approach. Huet is a Domaine capable of producing wines that can live and develop for 50-plus years, wines with a confluence of remarkable purity and power.

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 now enviable reputation was built. 

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. 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. 

No matter the style, all of the wines of Domaine Huet are remarkable. They are fantastically aromatic and dance across the palate with a zest and an intensity that seems otherworldly.

2018 marked the last grape-to-glass vintage for Huet’s renowned viticulturist-winemaker Jean-Bernard Berthomé, the driving force behind Huet’s advancement in biodynamic farming. Before handing over the reins to his successor, Berthomé worked the 2019 vintage alongside Benjamin Joliveau (who has worked at the estate since 2008 and was hand-picked by Noël Pinguet) right up to the point where the wines had finished their fermentations.

In her role as President, Sarah Hwang heads up the business side of things. 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 story 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”.

The wines of Domaine Huet are bottled and labelled according to their three celebrated vineyard sites. Each vineyard expresses unique characteristics, and each can be made in three, or sometimes four styles, reflecting the Domaine’s philosophy of allowing each vineyard to express itself in the context of the vintage: 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.

There are also some exceptional sparkling, pétillant, wines produced here with the dosage often coming from older demi-sec wines. These wines have a lighter bubble than traditional sparkling wines and are a wonderful alternative to Champagne. All the grapes for the wines of Domaine Huet are hand harvested with multiple passes, or tries, through the vineyard. This enables the selection of only the best bunches of clean fruit for dry and sparkling wines and shrivelled and botrytised grapes for sweet wines. No malolactic fermentation and no new oak are used in the maturation process, with the aim being to retain the freshness and purity of the grapes for all the wine styles.

All of the wines of Domaine Huet are remarkable. They are fantastically aromatic and dance across the palate with a zest and an intensity that seems otherworldly. They are constantly evolving both in the glass and in the bottle and are seemingly immortal. Huet wines from the 40s and 50s are still drinking wonderfully!

Le Mont  

Purchased in 1957, the steep, rocky, eight-hectare vineyard of Le Mont lies on Vouvray’s esteemed Première Côte, part of a bank of limestone-rich hillside vineyards overlooking Tours. The argilo-siliceux soils (stony, with green, mineral clays and flint over limestone) of this block provide the tight structure and pungent minerality that Le Mont is renowned for. With less clay (and a different type of clay) and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu, this is a site that typically produces the nerviest wines in the Huet stable, so it is mostly dry and off-dry whites produced from this vineyard.  Le 

Clos du Bourg 

Perched on the Première Côte, just above the town of Vouvray, Clos du Bourg is a monopole and generally regarded as the greatest of the three Huet single vineyards. It has been farmed by the domaine since 1953 (purchased in 1963). Arguably the greatest vineyard in the region, Clos du Bourg produces some of the most powerful, thrilling and long-lived white wines in Europe. With only one metre of topsoil over solid limestone, the vines tap almost immediately into the mineral resources underneath. The warmth of the site, combined with the mineral complexion of the soils, results in rich and super long-lived wines that seem to effortlessly combine intense, charged minerality with generous texture and concentration. 

Le Haut-Lieu  

This was the estate’s first vineyard, purchased in 1928, and is situated on the ‘Première Côte’. It’s a 9-hectare plot on deep, brown, chalky clay (known as aubuis). Here the yellow limestone (tuffeau) bedrock lies up to four metres down, making for a richer soil that produces round, supple wines that can drink very well young. It generally produces the earliest maturing of the three cuvées and is usually the first to be ready for drinking, but, like the Clos du Bourg and Le Mont, the wines can be extremely long-lived. We have enjoyed bottles from the 40s that are still drinking very well!

Region

Loire Valley, France

Appellation

Touraine

Wine Maker

Benjamin Joliveau

What They Are Saying

“The biodynamic Huet estate comprises three key terroirs with clearly identifiable personalities  … it is justly regarded as the leading property in the Vouvray region.” Clive Coates MW, The Great Wines of France

“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

“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.” Guide Vert, La Revue du Vin de France

“‘Domaine Huet’ means ‘I make the best damn Chenin Blanc on the planet’ ...” Mike Steinberger

"No matter the site or the sweetness level, there is an ethereal and elegant quality to these wines that defies scientific analysis" Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous

Domaine Huet

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