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Magical Chenin from Domaine Huët

Chenin from Domaine Huët

Chenin Shenanigans

Bottles from my early wine career; some stand out like beacons bright enough to spread the word of any land invasion. 1921 Château Margaux and 1929 Château Latour are still luminous in my memory. And '59 Grands Echézeaux from the DRC remains one of the finest bottles I have ever consumed. But award for the most unexpected goes to a wine I drank on a number of occasions, latterly over dinner at RSJ, that South Bank London restaurant the wine list of which runs deeply through the vineyards of the Loire Valley. That wine was the 1959 sparkling Vouvray from Gaston Huët.

And I say sparkling, although in reality the merest vestige of gas remained under the bullet-like cork. The wine itself, however, was sheer heaven: a nutty, fascinating cream that delighted mind and palate alike.

I tasted the current vintage a couple of days ago. The 2010 is extraordinary and, I suspect, will last for a very long time (if not the 35 years that the 1959 had survived before I sank my teeth into it).

2010 Vouvray Pétillant, Huët
£102 in bond per 6  Drink now-2023

Aromas are firm and there's a hint of pine cone to the delicious scents of pear fruit, along with a wisp of honey. The palate offers rather rewarding richness, but this is a dry wine of immense drink-ability. It also carries excellent structure, which makes me want to forget about a bottle or two for many years to see what occurs. I suspect one would be very pleasantly surprised. Direct wine, with spice behind the light prickle of gas. A delight.

"Lovely honey scent with vibrant green apple and vivid citric acidity on the palate. Good biscuit autolysis character, leaving a persistent mealy note on the finish."

And its bed fellow. Well, I suspect I won't sell much of this wine whatever I say. Why? Because it is off-dry and many people shy away from such things. But bear with me and you might be in for an out-of-palate experience, so good is this thing.

2015 Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec, Huët
£147 in bond per 6  Drink 2020-35

I think that part of the problem with off-dry wines is that people are confused about when to drink them. This is a shame; they really are extremely versatile. All alone; with cheese; fruit puddings; spiced white meat dishes. I am happy to leave it to you to experiment! But this wine is simply gorgeous. It offers both enormous presence, but great elegance and an airy, almost weightless quality. Pear aromas are joined by a note like apricot and bits and pieces of apple and small orange. There's a fleeting impression of sweetness in the mouth before the seriousness of the structure kicks in. This is dense stuff. Pure orchard - mainly apple - fruit is bolstered by incisive, earthy-dense, firm grip. This is both long and really intense at the death. The core carries a green apple freshness. Wow. Taste this and then think about all those wine trade types who would argue that Chenin Blanc is "up there" with the world's best grape varieties and one would be quite happy to agree with them. A wine of consummate class.

"Primary but still minerally apple and pear fruit, glorious quince intensity on the palate. A light cedar note enhances the piercing freshness and the fruit is creamy and rich. Fabulous vintage and much too young but already

For those who want the Full Monty (i.e. one of the great sweet wines for which this estate is so celebrated), I can offer a small tranche of the following which, alas, I have not had a chance to taste:

2015 Vouvray Le Mont Moelleux 1ère Trie, Huët
£225 in bond per 6  Drink 2020-50

"The 2015 Vouvray Le Mont Moelleux Première Trie is super clear, ripe and aromatic on the nose, highly elegant and with lovely flinty flavors. Intense and concentrated, with great finesse and vitality, this is a highly elegant and perfectly balanced wine with a persistent grip and salinity. Great balance and harmony. 98/100." Stephan Reinhardt

**And I have access to a very small tranche of the 2015 Cuvée Constancea wine Huët make only in the finest vintages, starting in 1989. Since that time it has become an absolute legend; one of the finest sweet wines in the world and capable of lasting 50 years plus in the cellar. 450 cases of 6x50cl were made in 2015 and I can sell a very few of them at £595 in bond. Let me know if you'd care to partake.**

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