Huet 2016 Release / France

The biodynamic Huet estate comprises three key terroirs with clearly identifiable personalities  … it is justly regarded as the leading property in the Vouvray region. CLIVE COATES MW, The Great Wines of France

Under Noel Pinguet, who retired in 2012, this was considered, along with its neighbor Foreau, one of the two iconic estates in Vouvray. Sarah, like her father, is an American of Chinese descent. While there has understandably been a great deal of speculation about what will happen to such a unique property under foreign ownership, I see little cause for concern. Quite the contrary. Sarah’s father bought into the estate over ten years ago following Gaston Huet’s death in 2002 at the age of 92, and has nursed it gently from strength to strength via investments. No one here has better vineyards. JOEL B. PAYNE, Vinous Media

The Domaine Huet in Vouvray is one of the few world class producers in the Loire Valley. Its reputation was built by 1910-born Gaston Huet and the Le Haut Lieu, a top single vineyard site that was bought by his parents in 1928 with three hectares under vines, all Chenin Blanc. STEPHAN REINHARDT

I know I am prone to getting a little overexcited about wine, anyone who reads my offers will no doubt have reached this conclusion by now. What can I say, I love my job. With that in mind I need to be careful here to properly express just what I think about the wines from Huet.

Those who know this domaine will already be aware with what they are all about. Those who read up on them will quickly discover that the general consensus in the world of wine is that Huet has only two rivals (many would argue only one) for the crown of king of Loire Chenin, Foreau (Clos Naudin) and for me Moulin Touchais. I usually recall the masterclass I sat in on nearly a decade ago at the store. I was already a devotee at this point and considered myself privileged to be able to attend something like this. We were exposed to selection of their wines, current and older, and seeing them together in this fashion shed new light on the estates pedigree for me. The cherry on top of what was a phenomenal bracket though was the final two wines, a 1945 Molleaux which was the essence of youthful vitality in so much as while being fully developed the fruit was fresh, the perfume was intoxicating (even more incredible when you consider what was happening in that part of the world during that time). That bottle remains one of the greatest tasting experiences of my life. Which makes the next thing a little difficult to say, the 2003 Cuvee Constance, while obviously much younger, was even better. That wine sits in the mythical category for me. Made only in the greatest of vintages and in a similar fashion as a wine like d’Yquem with numerous passes being made through vineyards to hand harvest the most concentrated, heavily botrytized fruit, often selection individual berries from a bunch and then coming back when more of the bunch has reached its peak. This process is so labour intensive and the return you get from fruit that shrivelled it seems almost uneconomical to produce wine in this fashion but the results are magical. Constance remains, for me, one of the greatest sweet wines on earth.

While Huet produces a number of off dry and sweet styles for me the two opposite ends of the spectrum are those which I find most exciting. The dry wines, Sec, are as good as the style gets. Often tightly wound up in their youth they have a reserve of power that only begins to unravel with some time but when it does they can be explosive. The sweet wines are unctuous and richly layered but the Chenin’s racy acidity cuts through that thick and dense fruit like a knife, similar to the TBA wines of the Mosel.

Similar to 2015 and 2016 in Germany 2015 was met with a lot of hype, particularly here at Huet where the scores and reviews were glowing, but the wines were riper and perhaps lacked a little of the tension of the greatest vintages, for me. 2016 seems to be back to a more classic vintage, in the very best possible way, the wines I have tried are remarkable, there is a level of extract among the best of them that I tend to associate with white Burgundy more than Chenin but here the buffering has a more pronounced smoky mineral element. The 2016 dry wines ae tight, driven and powerful expressions of Vouvray that I can only assume will be remarkable given some time.

As is always the case here the reviews have not yet been published but like always I assure you when they are they will be glowing. Sadly though like most of the Loire the frost hit them hard and yields were decimated so we have very little to offer and these wines have a very strong following among our customers so I assume they will be eagerly gobbled up by those in the know.