Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Moelleux Première Trie 1993
I have a policy of never featuring the same wine twice in my Monday Weekend Wine update. It’s an unwritten rule I have adhered to for a long time now, although I sometimes wonder whether it is really necessary, and indeed whether it might be overly restrictive. After all, this isn’t a ‘wine recommendation’ slot; it really is a look at what I drank over the weekend, bottles young and old, everyday wines and obscurities, my tasting note usually accompanied by some background information (hopefully of interest) on the wine. Keeping it fresh with different wines seems a natural part of this process, but maybe it shouldn’t be? After all, it can be informative to revisit wines, especially as I could retaste them in the context of tasting notes published on this site thirteen years ago. That’s how long Winedoctor has been going now.
A quick scan through my archives reveal, however, that we are quite safe with this wine. Or are we? Because, as Vouvray obsessives will perhaps already know, this bottle from Domaine Huet is on its second life; what lies within is a wine originally released as the 1993 Vouvray Cuvée Constance, a wine which I have already tasted and reported on one Monday back in 2007. At that time I drew attention to this fact, and wrote that I should compare the two side-by-side sometime. Six years later that is something I still haven’t gotten around to doing, but it is planned for later this year as part of my huge, expansive, all-encompassing, earth-shatteringly comprehensive review of the 1993 vintage in my Twenty Years On tasting (planned tasting line-up: five wines, of which two I have already mentioned here…..trembling with excited anticipation now, aren’t you?).
Cuvée Constance, named for Victor Huet’s wife (while we’re on it, Victor bought the domaine, and Gaston Huet was his son….just a little hint for some wine writers who I note tend to get the two mixed up) was created by Noël (Gaston’s son-in-law….just ramming it home) in the superb 1989 vintage. That he was moved to do so does not surprise me; the vintage is in the running for the greatest of the entire 20th century, and although I do not have the experience with 1921 or 1947 to draw comparisons and decide the winner, it seems inevitable that 1989 is, at the very least, in the top three. A blend of botrytised fruit from across the Huet vineyards, it is rarely produced, only resurfacing again in the 1993 vintage, followed by 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2009. Somewhere along the way, however, Noël Pinguet – since ‘retired’ of course – decided that the wine was not up to scratch. Despite the fact it was a blend of botrytised fruit from all three Huet vineyards, it was subsequently relabelled as the 1993 Vouvray Haut Lieu Première Trie, and sold as such.
The wine now has a fabulously rich, burnished, orange-gold hue in the glass. The aromatics are classic for maturing Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, leading with notes of baked orange, apricot and almond, still with a pretty white flower nuance. There are elements of quince too, and crystalline ginger. Although the depth and aromatic profile suggests sweetness it doesn’t suggest a huge carpet of sugar is awaiting us on the palate, and indeed this is the case. The wine’s claim to be moelleux is certainly on the wane here, the palate rich, fulsome, certainly textured and softened by sugar, but it is certainly a little drier than I would expect. The flavours match those on the nose, with a little caramelised pear as well, and happily an elegant yet rather pithy stance, and with a good energy in the finish too. A delightful wine, sweet-savoury and complex rather than simply hedonistic, which is of course just how good moelleux Vouvray should be. I tasted this at several opportunities over the weekend, and found of all the dishes it encountered it was happiest when sitting served with chicken, mushrooms and olives in a white wine and cream sauce, which I think says something of its rich but drier nature. 18/20 (17/6/13)