Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, wine professionals have been forced to rely on virtual training to keep up with education in the industry. As such, many of us have actively jumped into hosting Zoom education classes for our customers as well as fellow industry professionals in order to stay informed and inspired with the lack of in person connections. Over the summer, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Hwang, co-owner of Domaine Huet in Vouvray. Anyone in the wine industry would agree that Domaine Huet is quite possibly the premier producer of this historic Loire Valley appellation in France. Their world class Chenin Blanc wines range in levels of sweetness, and are carefully farmed according to biodynamic principles and traditionally vinified yielding some of the most exciting white wines produced on the planet. I was honored to have this special time with Sarah, her passion for the business and top quality wine is clear and it was inspiring to learn more about the history of this great domaine and the details connected to their holdings, farming, production, and personnel. I have outlined a general timeline of Domaine Huet with details below from my conversation with Sarah.
Gaston was joined in 1971 by his son-in-law, Noël Pinguet, and 1979 by chef de culture, Jean-Bernard Bertholmé. Together, they crafted legendary wines from their three parcels—with the vineyards and nature dictating which grapes would become Sec, Demi-Sec, or Moelleux. The estate always held back significant stocks of older vintages, and these wines’ near immortality has helped to further the Huet legend. In 2002, with Gaston ailing, a financial partner was needed to ensure the continuation of the estate’s rich legacy. Anthony Hwang, from New York, purchased a majority stake, and today his children reside at and direct the estate, ensuring that this benchmark producer has a strong future. With Bertholmé in charge of winemaking since 2012, the domaine may be making its most consistently great wines ever. It was one of the earliest adopters of biodynamics, and recent wines, perhaps more than any in the domaine’s history, achieve a fascinating level of transparency, purity, and knife-edged balance.
· Domaine founded in 1928, Chenin Blanc has been associated with Vouvray since the 9th Century
· Started by Victor Huët, a Parisian bistro owner
· Le Haut-Lieu, first vineyard to be purchased (lies on the Première Côte, or first slope) – Grand Cru
· Le Mont purchased in 1957 and Clos du Bourg in 1963, both in the Première Côte
· Gaston took over in 1937 – 55 years in charge
· Gaston was joined by Noël Pinguet, his son in law in 1971 and 1979 Jean-Bernard Berthomé (manager today)
· 2002, Gaston was ailing and needed a financial partner. Anthony Hwang from New York purchased a majority stake. His children reside at the estate. Sarah and Hugo Hwang, brother and sister Duo
· Since 2012 Berthomé has been in charge of winemaking.
At their discretion, the estate produces Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, or Moelleux 1ère Trie (“first selection”) from any of the three principal vineyards: Le Haut Lieu, Le Mont, and Clos du Bourg. A superb sparkling Pétillant is also made, drawing grapes from all three vineyards, as well as from other small parcels on the estate. Le Haut-Lieu began as the original Huet vineyard and is nearly 9 ha. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay— the wines from this site are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu.
· Styles span from sparkling, dry, semi-sweet, and dessert level sweet
· Le Haut Lieu- 9 ha, has the richest soils, a deep limestone clay. Generally the most approachable of the three vineyards.
· Le Mont – This and Clos du Bourg are the greatest vineyards in Vouvray. Undisputedly a Grand Cru. Less clay and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu
· Clos du Bourg – Gaston believed this to be the greatest vineyard in Vouvray. With the Première Côtes shallowest, stoniest soils.
· Cuvée Constance – Their ultra-sweet dessert wine produced since 1989, only in top years.