Domaine Huet, 2013 Update

It seems to have become something of a tradition to kick off my annual round of reports from the Salon des Vins de Loire with my update on Domaine Huet; looking back at my update after last year’s Salon, entitled Noël Pinguet’s Final Vintage, I see it was published exactly one year ago, minus just one day. There are, of course, plenty of reasons why this domaine should lead the pack; it has, under the direction of Victor Huet, then Gaston Huet, and until his slightly premature resignation in 2012 Noël Pinguet, long been the appellation leader. Although many would perhaps rank Philippe Foreau of Domaine du Clos Naudin at the same level, I would contend that although Philippe’s wines are no less extraordinary in some vintages, Domaine Huet nails it with an unparalleled consistency. This is surely the reason why Huet is one of the few Loire domaines which seems to have entered the global wine-drinking subconscious. You don’t have to be a Loire geek to know of Huet; the domaine is one of only a handful of Loire Valley vineyards to regularly crop up for discussion on internet wine forums (an esoteric group which includes names such as Didier Dagueneau and Nicolas Joly), and you can probably find the odd bottle in many cellars otherwise dedicated to the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo or the Barossa Valley.

An Update on Domaine Huet, 2013

Of course, in 2013, we have an additional reason for coming first to Domaine Huet. In showing the 2012 vintage, on which I have already reported in my Loire 2012 report, new winemaker Benjamin Joliveau (pictured above) – who worked underneath Noël Pinguet for several years in anticipation of his retirement – is pouring his inaugural vintage, no doubt the first of many. I don’t envy him this task; Noël Pinguet was an international figurehead for the domaine, responsible for the conversion of the estate to biodynamic viticulture during the late 1980s, and he oversaw some magnificent vintages, including the 1989 and 2002. His are big shoes to fill. To add insult to injury, Benjamin has had to prove his worth in what has to be one of the worst Loire vintages for many years, when the vineyards were visited by every possible affliction, including frost, rain, coulure, millerandage, mildew and more rain. You name it, 2012 had it.

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