Region: Vouvray, Loire Valley
Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec 2015
Region: Vouvray, Loire Valley
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‘The citrus-coloured 2015 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec is pure, fresh and chalky on the nose where ripe and concentrated fruit aromas along with some subtle herbal aromas are displayed. Full-bodied, very mineral, salty and ripe, this is a concentrated, powerful, densely woven yet finesse-full and elegant Chenin with a very long and grippy, tension-filled finish. Great aging potential.’ – The Wine Advocate 93/100
Domaine Huet in Vouvray is a world icon for pure, mineral-style Chenin Blancs with the ability to age for decades. Established in 1928, and farmed biodynamically since 1990, Huet owns just 3 vineyards that produce wines with varying degrees of sweetness depending on the vintage.
‘2015 is an exceptional and historic vintage again at Huet (perhaps the best since 1997). I can only recommend to buy cases of all styles,’ suggests the Wine Advocate. ‘The 2015s combine super ripe, tropical fruit flavours and juicy textures with concentration, perfectly integrated acidities and enormous precision that reflects the different terroirs.’
The late 16th Century closerie of Le Haut Lieu is situated on the left hand side of the rue de la Croix-Buisée, with the vineyards sitting at the road’s summit, off to the right. In the introduction to his 1823 novelQuentin Durward, Sir Walter Scott mentions time spent at the ‘chateau of Hautlieu’ on the banks of the Loire, although reading through the work, it becomes evident that it is unlikely to have been the same place, unless Scott has used some artistic license in embellishing the standing of the Marquis of Hautlieu and his chateau.From the initial three hectares of vineyards that were purchased by Victor Huet, Le Haut Lieu has since been extended to nine hectares. As the name suggests, the house and the vineyards are situated on a plateau with a slight south facing gradient at one of the highest points of the appellation.
The Le Haut Lieu itself consists of 3 to 4 metres of heavy clay soil mixed with chalk, known locally as aubuis, which lies over a bed of limestone. It is the limestone subsoil that proves to be the constant link between the three vineyards owned by Huet, and it is the vines proximity to the porous, yellow tuffeau that is responsible for the overriding style of wines produced from each of the sites. This friable rock is from the Turonian Age and was laid down during the Cretaceous Period, which dates them at between 67 and 137 million years. The tuffeau is made up of fragments of bryozoa, sea creatures that lived in vast numbers in tropical oceans, which when mixed with fragments of mica and grains of sand then compacted, gives notable physical and chemical properties to the soil, whilst the chalky, brittle quality makes it ideal for excavation. This is the reason why Vouvray is made up of a labyrinth of caves and troglodyte dwellings.
Of the three sites, Le Haut Lieu tends to offer the most precocious of wines, regardless of their style or sweetness, although this should be seen a relative statement, given that they are still capable of lasting many decades.