This past Wednesday In Vino Veritas was fortunate enough to taste its way through a broad selection of the wines of Noël Pinguet, the owner and winemaker of Domaine Huet. This very animated, passionate and humble Vouvray winemaker was kind enough to bestow us with his presence. Recognized among the likes of Nicolas Joly, Mr. Pinguet is one of the more outspoken proponents of biodynamic viticulture. His philosophy is that the results speak for themselves, and thus there is no compelling reason to seek concrete scientific proof. This philosophy has guided Noël all throughout his 30-something year career. He is not formally educated in viticulture or oenology and has relied on his passion and persistent trial and error practices, in order to find just the right method to produce the most quality wine possible.
Noël is proud of his biodynamic practices and also of the diversity of his wines throughout the vintages. He explained that Vouvray and Chenin Blanc are respectively some of the most climatically sensitive appellations and varietals. Thus the vintage is very important for Vouvray. Especially since Noël does not use any chemical induction, except for sulfur, the quality and expression can fluctuate significantly year by year. For example in some years the grapes may posses a potential alcohol level of 9% and in subsequent years the potential alcohol level may reach 22%. Noël truly leaves it up to the terroir to decide the production level and selection of wines year in and year out. In some years Domaine Huet produces nothing but sparkling wine—“Petillant”. In some years the domaine produces nothing but sweet wines—“Moelleux”. And in other years, the production is across the board. In the end Domaine Huet produces a magnificent selection of Vouvrays that everyone should get their hands on. The domaine’s acclaimed sweet wine “Cuvée Constance” has even been mistaken for Yquem in blind tastings.
Snapshot of the estate …
Founded : 1928 by Victor Huet and son Gaston, in Vouvray, right bank of Loire River, east of Tours
Current management : Noël Pinguet, Gaston’s son-in-law, for over 30 years
Size : 35 hectares, “Le Haut-Lieu”, “Le Mont”, and “Le Clos du Bourg”
Vines : 100% Chenin Blanc , 15% 1-10 years, 35% 10-30 years, and 50% 30-50 years
Viticulture : biodynamic, Noble Rot is encouraged, yield 35 hl / ha
Vinification : fermentation in oak at low temperature for about 2 months, no malolactic
Top vintages : 1947, 1959, 1989, 1990, 1997.
Ageing : 20 to 40 years
Labels : ~16 different Vouvray estate wines, including dry, demi-sec, sweet, and sparkling
The tasting …
2005 Vouvray Petillant Brut
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc. Crisp, subtle aromas on the nose with notes of citrus, mineral and very distant sweet ginger. Refreshing and crisp in the mouth with a simple and fruity flavor profile of green apple, citrus and fresh yeast.
Price: 15€ @ Domaine
2009 “Le Haut Lieu” Sec
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc. Crisp and citric on the nose with notes of grapefruit and minerality. Very silky, smooth in the mouth with a good citric balance and fruity sweetness, although this is a dry wine with only 9.5 g/l of residual sugars. There are flavors of apple and lemon.
Price: ~13€ @ Domaine
2006 “Le Mont” Sec
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, 8.9 g/l residual sugars. A rich, complex, sweet and floral nose. Very smooth and balanced in the mouth with a bright acidity and a medium body. There are notes of minerality and green apple.
Rating: 14/20 (WS 89)
Price: 13€70 @ Domaine
2007 “Le Mont” Sec
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, virtually no residual sugars. Good minerality and crispness on the nose with aromas of citrus fruits and mild spice. Smooth in the mouth with a bitter citric acidity and good vibrancy. There are flavors of lemon and grapefruit.
Rating: 15/20 (WS 89)
Price: 14€ @ Domaine
2006 “Le Mont” Demi-Sec
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, 20 g/l residual sugars. A smooth and citric nose. Smooth with good balance in the mouth. This wine is not overly sweet. There is a fairly simple flavor profile with notes of apricot.
Price: 16€10 @ Domaine
2007 “Le Mont” Demi-Sec
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, 20 g/l residual sugars. Good complexity and minerality on the nose. In the mouth this wine is smooth and displays a vibrant acidity, resulting great balance and structure. There are flavors of citrus and peach.
Price: ~17€ @ Domaine
2008 “Le Mont Première Trie” Moelleux
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, 62 g/l residual sugars. Good complexity and minerality on the nose with notes of sweet spices and flowers. A pronounced acidity in the mouth displaying great balance, a smooth texture and a full body. There are citrus notes throughout.
Price: 28€ @ Domaine
2002 “Clos du Bourg” Moelleux
Tasting Notes: Richness, fleshiness, sweetness and vibrancy all coming out on the nose, which displays aromas of citrus. There is good acidity and balance in the mouth with flavors of apricot, lemon and peach.
Price: ~20€ @ Domaine
1985 “Clos du Bourg” Moelleux
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc. During the first few minutes the nose is dominated by a very slight funk, vegetal notes and a subtle hint of olive oil. Within 5 minutes these former notes dissipate completely, being replaced by a rich minerality and graham cracker spices. In the mouth this wine displays great balance, good acidity and a good spicy sweetness with flavors of apricot, peach and citrus.
Price: 30€ @ Domaine
2003 “Cuvée Constance”
Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc, 194 g/l residual sugars. Beautifully sweet, expressive and complex on the nose. There are aromas of peach, dried fruits in general, spice and dates. Very smooth in the mouth and a little syrupy and cloying on the attack. However, the wine polishes itself out well with a refreshing acidity and delicious flavors of apricot and herbal spices. The finish lingers for minutes, at first displaying beautiful notes of dates, followed minutes later by distant but recognizable notes of raisin and dried apricots. Bring on the Roquefort cheese!!!
Rating: 17/20 (WS 98)
Price: 70€ @ Domaine