Friday, April 03, 2009

Wine of the Week

2007 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec Clos du Bourg, $28, Robert Chadderdon Selections. I'm putting together a case of birth-year wine for my older daughter, who was born in 2007. I want to give her great wines, wines that will improve with 19 years of cellaring. I wish I had the financial means to fill this case with things like Dujac Clos de la Roche, Pierre Morey Meursault Perrieres, and other wines that are some of the world's finest versions of their type. Luckily there are affordable wines that also are the finest examples of their type.

Noel Pinguet of Domaine Huet, along with Philippe Foreau, makes the best wines in Vouvray. Many people consider these to be the finest Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley and in the world. I also love the Chenins of Montlouis and Savennieres, but I don't want to quibble - there is no question that the wines of Domaine Huet are among the very best Chenin Blancs in the world. And happily, I can afford to buy and drink them. 2007 is the current vintage on retail shelves and it's actually lower in price than the three previous vintages, perhaps reflecting the changing economic climate.

2007 was not an easy year in most of the Loire Valley, and Vouvray was not spared the rainy cool summer that dampened prospects for many growers all over the region. September was warm and dry, but there was some mildew and rot and yields were down in general. Some said that biodynamic, organic, and otherwise natural growers would have a particularly tough time in 2007 because of their reluctance to treat their vines against rot, but this seems not to be true, from what I've tasted so far. Great wine makers like Noel Pinguet make good wine in bad years, so it hasn't surprised me at all to read good things about the 2007's. But are these the kind of wines that will improve over 19 years? I decided to drink a bottle over the course of three days with BrooklynLady, and hopefully learn something about how this wine might evolve.

Huet makes wine from three vineyards: Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont, and Clos du Bourg, the latter in general is considered to produce the very finest and longest lived wines. In good vintages, several types of wine are made from each vineyard - sec, or dry wine, demi-sec, or off-dry wine, and moelleux, or sweet wine. These are wines of beautifully elegant fruit, great intensity and focus, and often times enamel stripping acidity that enables them to age for decades. For detailed information about the history, growing and vinification techniques, and tasting notes on the wines of Huet, here are two good web sources: Chris Kissack, the Wine Doctor, wrote a great profile of the estate, and Jim Budd of Jim's Loire wrote about his recent visit and offers all sorts of other information.

We loved this wine. It shows all of the intensity and refined elegance that I expect from Huet. In contrast to the 2005 or 2002, it is not an exuberant wine, even after 3 days open. This is not a fruit-driven wine, there are no touches of honey. Instead it offers a nice balance of fruit and acid, but really shines in the mineral department. Everything about this wine rests on a rocky blanket of shining minerals. And it's delicious. If my daughter hates it then I will gladly help her drink it. Here are our notes from the three days:

Day 1 - Tight as a corset. So shy on the nose that it's difficult to tell what's going on. Apple fruit and lots of acid on the palate, something spicy a the core. With vigorous swirling, and three hours later, the wine is still impenetrable.

Day 2 - Ahhh, this is more like it. More expressive on the nose, showing lots of rocky minerals, some wool, and hints of summer fruits. There is great intensity and focus on the palate, with a solid and still almost impenetrable core of energy at the center. But the wine is elegant and refined, very attractive.

Day 3 - It has really come together now, with lovely quince and wax aromas, regal and mature. There are bitter herbs and citrus fruits underneath, and more rocky minerals. This is a wine of class and grace. The palate is just as intense as it was on the first day - will this wine ever die? There is great grip and length, and the sharp mineral cut stays with you after swallowing.


Director, Lab Outreach said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what else ends up in the case.

We've just had a NV Touraine Méthode Traditionelle from Huet arrive on our shelves. $26 at K&L. Worth a try if you see it.


Tracie P. said...

the only wine that last three days around is the stuff we don't like!

i applaud your restraint for the sake of experimentation.

Brooklynguy said...

hey JD - it's going to be a while because burgundy hasn't been released yet. but it's looking pretty good so far, actually. i'll post something when i know more. by the way,you were right on that pacalet pommard - it's time to drink it, but it's excellent wine, not at all over the hill.

hey 1B - i appreciate your appreciation.

Gene said...

Had this wine out of half-bottle at Terroir in SF. Amazing stuff. I love the waxy texture of it and the screeching acid. Mmmm....