LOIRE

Domaine Huet

Represented exclusively in the U.S. and California by The Rare Wine Co.

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 was capable of world-class quality.

The domaine’s founder, Victor Huët, 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, and an engaging showman’s personality, Gaston built the Huet legacy over the next 55 years, despite spending five years in a German POW camp during World War II.

The Grand Crus

For all his salesmanship, 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.

The Legacy Continued

Gaston was joined in 1971 by his son-in-law, Noël Pinguet, and 1979 by chef de culture, Jean-Bernard Bertholmé. 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, from New York, purchased a majority stake, and today his children reside at and direct the estate, ensuring that this benchmark producer has a strong future.

With Bertholmé in charge of winemaking since 2012, the domaine may be making its most consistently great wines ever. It was one of the earliest adopters of biodynamics, and recent wines, perhaps more than any in the domaine’s history, achieve a fascinating level of transparency, purity, and knife-edged balance.

The Wines

As previously mentioned, at their discretion, the estate produces Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, or Moelleux 1ère Trie (“first selection”) from any of the three principal vineyards. A superb sparkling Pétillant is also made, drawing grapes from all three vineyards, as well as from other small parcels on the estate.

Le Haut-Lieu—The original Huet vineyard is nearly 9 hA. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay—and the wines are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu.

Le Mont—For many insiders, the argument over Vouvray’s greatest vineyard comes down to two sites: Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. Undisputably a grand cru vineyard, Le Mont enjoys a choice site on the Première Côte. With less clay and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont yields young wines of intense minerality. With age, the wines develop great length and finesse.

Clos du Bourg—Gaston Huet believed this to be the greatest of all Vouvray vineyards. With the Première Côte’s shallowest, stoniest soils, its wines often synthesize Le Mont’s intense minerality with Le Haut-Lieu’s generous texture.

Cuvée Constance—Since 1989, the estate has also produced this magical, botrytized dessert wine selected from one, two or all three vineyards. When made, the Cuvée Constance (named for Gaston’s mother) ranks among the world’s greatest dessert wines.


Technical Information

OVERVIEW

Proprietor: Anthony Hwang
Winemaker: Jean-Bernard Berthomé

The Loire Valley’s most famous estate was founded in 1928 by Victor Huët, and rose to prominence under his son, Gaston. It was purchased by the Hwang family in 2003.

THE VINEYARDS

The estate’s three vineyards sit atop Vouvray’s esteemed Première Côte. The Côte’s limestone-rich clay soils yield wines of intensity and great longevity. By any reckoning, these rank among the greatest vineyard sites in the Loire Valley.

LE HAUT-LIEU

The original vineyard, it was purchased by Gaston Huet in 1928. Its 15 ha of rich, brown clay soils generally yield the estate’s most precocious and tangible wines.

Le Mont

Purchased in 1957, Le Mont’s 9 ha of green-tinged clay soils are speckled with stone and mica. Often the most reticent wines at this estate, they develop profound character with age.

CLOS DU BOURG

This ancient, walled vineyard was acquired in 1953. It has estate’s the shallowest, stoniest soils and produces wines of great depth and richness. Many consider the 6 ha Clos du Bourg to be Vouvray’s finest single site.

PETTILANT

Petillant is made by the methode ancestrale. The wine is bottled while there is still some sugar, and finishes its fermentation in the bottle to produce a gently bubbly wine. After 3+ years in the bottle, the wines are disgorged and given a balancing dosage (~10g/l) from a great Huet Moelleux or 1ere Trie.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • The estate was one of the first in France to adopt biodynamic viticulture.
  • Depending on the vintage, the estate can make Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, and/or Moelleux 1ère Trie (selected berries), from each of the “big 3” vineyards.
  • Harvest is by hand, and occurs over 2-3 successive passes (“tries”) through the vineyards.
  • Intact bunches are pressed into a 50/50 mix of tanks and old demi-muids, where alcoholic fermentation proceeds naturally with indigenous yeasts.
  • When fermentations reach their conclusions, the wines are racked into old barrels where they spend the winter before bottling in April.

THE WINES

  Fruit Source Production

Pétillant

Young vines from the estate’s three parcels.

3,500 cases

Sec

Vineyard-designated

6,000 cases

Demi-Sec

Vineyard-designated

3,000 cases

Moelleux

Vineyard-designated

1,600 cases

Moelleux 1ère Trie

Vineyard-designated

1,600 cases

Cuvée Constance

Selected from oldest vines in all three vineyards, and only made in top years.

up to 400 cases

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