Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg, Sec 2011
As this week will have a French wine theme - Wednesday I am invited to a French rosé and food event - I figured I should kick it off with a wine from one of my favourite French regions: the Loire. Admittedly, its more famous cousins Burgundy, Champagne or Bordeaux would usually be mentioned first, but I love both the freshness and the quirkiness of the Loire wine. In many ways it is the French region that suits my style most.
It is also the French wine region that got me hooked on Chenin Blanc, partly due to the exciting wines coming from Domaine Huet.
Founded in 1928, Domaine Huet has won a reputation for outstanding, age-worthy Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc has been grown in the Vouvray region for many centuries, which makes the Huet estate relatively young - but the same cannot be said for the vines as on average around 50% of the Huet vines are between 30 and 50 years old. Amongst the Huet vineyards is Clos due Bourg, a 6 ha area near the church in Vouvray, surrounded by stone walls and with relatively thin soil on limestone.
Considering the reputation these wines have for being ageworthy I may have opened my bottle too soon, but after having suffered through too many mediocre pub Chenin Blancs in London I just had to taste the real thing again. The Huet reminded me of the sea, with a smell of ocean and seaweed spiced with fresh herbs (including mint), fennel candy, a pleasant sourness and - at first more prominent - a citrus and yeast layer that was almost like champagne. In the longer run the sharp, fresh herbal minerality won the contest though, also on the tongue. Zingy, grapefruit bitterness, crunchy mineral, vegetable aromas and a neat balance between a buttery, saucy creaminess with a hint of vanilla and the fresh acidity. Compared to previous Huets my bottle of 2011 lacked some of the depth, but that should only be seen as relative to some of the best Chenin Blancs I have ever encountered. It did have a great, lasting finish.