Since its founding in 1928, Vouvray’s Domaine Huet has been the standard-bearer for great, age-worthy Chenin Blanc. And to this day, year after year, the estate produces some of the world’s most compelling white wines—and in a remarkable range that spans sparkling, dry, semi-dry, and breathtaking dessert styles.
Chenin Blanc has been identified with Vouvray since at least the 9th century, and many of its great vineyards were known by the 14th century. By those standards, the 80-year-old Huet estate is relatively young. Yet it was this youngster that established, once and for all, that Vouvray can produce profoundly great wines.
The domaine’s founder, Victor Huet, was a Parisian bistro owner. However, with lungs and nerves shattered by his experiences in WWI, Victor re-settled to the town of Vouvray in France’s beautiful Loire Valley. He soon purchased the first of his great vineyards, Le Haut-Lieu, in 1928, and Domaine Huet was born.
Victor’s son Gaston (born 1910) worked with his father from the beginning, and assumed full charge by 1937. With an obsessive devotion to quality, Gaston built the Huet legacy over the next 55 years, despite spending five years in a German POW camp during WWII.
Gaston understood clearly that quality must come first—and that quality started with great vineyards. His Haut-Lieu parcel, which lies on Vouvray’s “Première Côte,” or “first slope,” is home to virtually all of the appellation’s acknowledged grand cru vineyards.
As the estate prospered in the post-WWII era, Gaston secured two additional prime vineyards on the Première Côte that would ensure the domaine’s stature: Le Mont (purchased in 1957) and Clos du Bourg (farmed since 1953, purchased in 1963). Collectively, these three vineyards, and the wines made from them, account for Huet being the greatest of all Vouvray producers.
In 1971, Gaston was joined by his talented son-in-law, Noël Pinguet. Together, they crafted legendary wines from their three parcels—with the vineyards and nature dictating which grapes would become Sec, Demi-Sec, or Moelleux. The estate always held back significant stocks of older vintages, and these wines’ near immortality has helped to further the Huet legend.
In 2002, with Gaston ailing, a financial partner was needed to ensure the continuation of the estate’s rich legacy. Anthony Hwang, a Filipino-born, New York businessman, was brought into the partnership. Gaston passed away that year, but for the next decade Anthony and Noël worked together in continuing Gaston’s important work.
In February 2012, with Huet's international reputation at arguably its highest point ever, Noël fulfilled his longstanding plan to turn the winemaking and vineyard responsibilities over to his hand-picked successor, Cellarmaster Jean-Bernard Berthomé.
It is widely believed that the estate is today making the most consistently great wines in its history. Pinguet was one of the earliest adopters of biodynamic practices, and the domaine’s recent wines achieve a fascinating level of transparency, purity and knife-edged balance.
Each of Huet’s three iconic vineyards imparts a different signature to its wine. Le Haut-Lieu’s deep limeston-clay soil produces wines that typically blossom early. Le Mont has less clay and more stone, yielding young wines of intense minerality. With age, Le Mont cuvées develop great length and finesse. And due to its extremely shallow, stony soils, Clos du Bourg often synthesizes Le Mont’s intense minerality with Le Haut-Lieu’s generous texture.
In any given vintage, the estate can produce up to four different cuvées from each site: Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, or Moelleux 1ère Trie, or “first selection.”
A superb sparkling Pétillant is also made, drawing grapes from all three vineyards, as well as from other small parcels on the estate. And in great years since 1989, a magical dessert wine, Cuvée Constance, has been made, selected from one, two or all three vineyards. Named for Gaston’s mother, Constance ranks among the world’s greatest dessert wines.
|1995||1995 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance 500 mL||500 mL||Ltd||$195.00||add|
|2009||2009 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance 500 mL||500 mL||JG98+ /
|2008||2008 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ere Trie Clos du Bourg||WA95 /
|1961||1961 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ere Trie Le Mont||1||$345.00||add|
|1990||1990 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ere Trie Le Mont||3||$249.95||add|
|2003||2003 Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ere Trie Le Mont||WA97||6||$74.50||add|
|1964||1964 Huet Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg||4||$275.00||add|
|2009||2009 Huet Vouvray Moelleux Le Mont||WA95+ /
|2002||2002 Huet Vouvray Petillant Reserve||JG94||1||$54.95||add|
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