Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec 1985
One of my intentions when I started my Weekend Wine feature was to think a little harder about wines in combination with food, looking in particular at some food and wine matches. It isn't something I have done until now, but this week I opened a bottle with just that in mind. Dinner was roast pork with some fabulous crackling with potatoes and parsnips, both roasted in goose fat. I wanted to see how this mature Vouvray worked with these foods. For some demi-sec Vouvray is the ultimate expression of the appellation; after all, it is perhaps the truest expression of the vineyard and the vintage, as both the drier wines and the sweeter wines are the result of selections made during one of the many tries. Yet today it seems to be a style many overlook, despite the fact that it works well with a variety of foods. I thought it would make a good foil for this joint of pork, especially taking into account my intention to serve an apple and Madeira sauce alongside, which would have some acidity but also perhaps the faintest touch of sweetness.
This particular Vouvray, the 1985 from Domaine Huet, is from the Haut Lieu vineyard, which was the original plot of vines alongside the house which was purchased by Victor Huet in 1928 - there is more detail on the estate in my profile. Being demi-sec, it probably had between 10 and 20 g/l of residual sugar at bottling, although these figures are not regulated by the Vouvray appellation. Beneath the capsule it looks remarkably clean considering its 22 years, and the rather small cork comes out quite cleanly. In the glass the wine has quite a deep, rich, golden colour, rather more than I might have expected for a demi-sec. This is perhaps an indicator of the condition of the wine, however, which although initially a little muted then begins to show notes of baked apples which reveals a touch - fortunately just a touch - of oxidisation. But there are some lovely notes of mature Chenin too, aromas of funk and wool, and this wine still has much to offer. The palate also suggests that it is time to drink up - as judged by this particularly dusty bottle anyway - as it is quite dry. It has a considerable weight and certainly hasn't dried out, with a good texture, good grip, and firm fresh acidity, all nicely integrated and it will be some time before this wine falls apart. But there is no sweetness, although it has a broad palate, with more funky, appley notes like those on the nose, and there is still some length. With the pork it worked very well indeed, coping very nicely with the apple sauce too. But I'm glad this was my one and only bottle of this, as I would be worried about any other bottles left lingering in the cellar. 17/20 (26/2/07)