Before I packed my suitcase and headed for France, I was looking forward immensely to visiting the Loire Valley and trying the wines of the Vouvray appellation, which is known for their many styles of chenin blanc. After searching on the internet and other wine resources, I decided to pay a visit to Domaine Huet L’Echansonne.
It was a beautiful hot sunny day. Perfect for a chilled white and/or sparkling wine. Domaine Huet has a few vineyards within the Vouvray Appellation: Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont, and Le Clos du Bourg being the largest ones. Each has it’s own terroir producing wines of different character. Le Haut-Lieu has brown clay and produces supple wines. Le Mont is on a hillside with stony soil with green clay and silica, producing an elegant and feminine wine. Le Clos du Bourg, located above the church of Vouvray, has shallow soil and is in direct contact with limestone rock to produce powerful wines with good structure.
Another reason for me to visit Domaine Huet is that they use biodynamic methods to manage their vineyards, which from my experience produces very flavourful wines. With the biodynamic method, the land is worked mechanically, organic fertilizers are used and no synthetic chemical products are used for managing insects or diseases. Here is a link to more information about the biodynamic method.
About Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a white grape variety that originated in the Loire Valley in France. It is believed to be a mutant of the Chenin Noir (red) grape. The Chenin Blanc grape has high acidity and can produce sparkling, still, and dessert wines. It can have flavours of honey, honeysuckle, beeswax, melon, and flinty minerality; and can be oak aged for additional fullness. South Africa has taken up this grape and produces a wide range of wines. In South Africa the grape is known as “steen”.
Wines I Sampled at Domaine Huet
Le Haut-Lieu Sec 2010 (€14). Sec means dry so these and the next two wines are dry. This wine was light straw in colour with small bubbles. Nice lemon and honeycomb aromas with a hint of minty herbal. Round nice mouthfeel. Very fruity. Citrus, flowers, and minerality. Good acidity. I really liked this wine.
Le Mont Sec 2010 (€16). Medium lemon in colour with a light citrus nose. Light body, small bubbles, off dry with a citrus and lime flavour. High acidity. Long finish.
Clos du Bourg Sec 2010 (€16). Medium lemon colour. Light citrus and apple aromas. Medium body, small bubbles, round in the mouth but with medium acidity to keep it refreshing. Some honey, apple, citrus and spice flavours. A very elegant wine.
Le Vodanis 2004 (€10). This is a still wine, while the Sec were all sparkling. Le Vodanis 2004 was a deeper lemon colour with a greenish tinge. Ripe fruit, beeswax, honey, yeast, and apricot aromas. Round mouthfeel; almost syrupy. Slight oak, apple, citrus and a hint of spice on the palate.
Le Vodanis 2003 (€12.80). It was nice that they poured me two vintages of this particular wine so that I could get an idea of how the wine can change over time. This wine was also medium lemon with a greenish tinge. Nice tarry aroma. High acidity. Off dry with apple and light citrus flavour. The acidity stays from the start to the finish. Long length.
Le Mont Demi-Sec 2007 (€18). Back to the sparkling wines. Demi-Sec is off-dry. This wine was medium straw colour. Light citrus and honey nose. Off dry, with lower acidity. Honey and apple flavours. Nice round mouthfeel. Medium length. Is drinking very well right now.
Le Haut-Lieu Demi Sec 2007 (€16.50). Bright lemon colour. Light toastiness, honey and citrus aromas. Medium body with light acidity. Toastiness and citrus flavours. It is smooth and round with a nice acid backbone. Lemon & lime on the finish. Another really elegant wine.
Le Haut-Lieu Molleux 2009 (€18). Molleux is a sweet style wine. Light lemon colour. Nice bouquet of citrus, apple, and perfume. Sweet, round with high acidity. Sour green apple, apple, apricot and honey flavours. A tiny bit of oak flavour. Nice.
Le Mont Molleux Premiere Trie 2008 (€30). Deeper lemon in colour with a green tinge. Light citrus, honey, and raspberry aromas. Medium body, sweet with high acidity. Quite round with some oak and apricot flavours. Feels heavy in your mouth. Long finish.
I hope I have tempted you to try one of these wines. If you are in the Vancouver area, I have been told that Marquis Wine Cellars in the downtown carries Domaine Huet. Also here is a link to Domaine Huet. Enjoy!