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.
Long live the Loire!
Yes Torsten I do agree with you, the Loire has some incredible value wines both red & white. I knew about Pouilly Fume previously but in my recently concluded WSET Level II class our instructor introduced us to Vouvary. I don't have my tasting notes with me right now, but I remember it was a pleasant wine and it was interesting to taste. I hadn't had too many non-dry Chenin Blancs before that; so that was an educational experience for me.
As far as Loire reds are concerned I quite like their Cabernet Francs and find them a bit lighter and at times more elegant than Right Bank Bordeaux. I think Loire wines are easier to pair with food than Bordeaux and they are often friendlier in price than Burgundy and offer good quality.
Can you recommend any Riesling Sekt producers and particularly ones that you might be able to find overseas? Thanks in advance.
In reply to Long live the Loire! by Solomon Mengeu
It seems we agree in our assessment of the Loire. My co-Rambler Julian is a great fan of Loire Cabernet Francs; I have so far focussed more on the whites, but the Cabernet Francs I have tasted was very good.
The biggest name in Riesling Sekt is Raumland; they make sparkling wines for several of the best estates and also have their own range of excellent sparkling wines, not just Riesling. Generally I find Rieslingsekt is difficult to get outside of Germany though. From the other wines I have tried so far I would say that wineries that make consistently good still Riesling also deliver the goods on Rieslingsekt - so if you find a Sekt from an estate you like I'd just give it a go.
I hope that helps!