Monday, 8 October 2012
2012 Loire Vintage: prospects at Domaine Huet?
View from the vineyards of Le Mont towards Tours, with the spires of its cathedral visible
A bunch in Le Mont
On Saturday, while having a general run through some of the the Vouvray vineyards, we also looked at two of the three Huet vineyards – Le Mont and Le Clos du Bourg – as well as dropping into the domaine for a brief chat with Hugo* Hwang (directeur général) and Susan Hwang (présidente directrice générale), the son and daughter of Anthony Hwang, who bought the estate in 2003.
Hugo and Susan were keen to stress that the new regime is determined to continue the long standing philosphy and tradition of the domaine by making whatever style the weather of the year permits. Although unsurprisingly they have ruled out the possibiliy of making a Cuvée Constance this year, they say they are still open to the possibility of making anything from Pétilliant through to Premier Tri this year.
They also stressed the long experience of Jean-Bernard Berthomé, the chef de culture at Domaine Huet, as well as Benjamin Joliveau who was being trained up to take over from Noël Pinguet in 2015 when Noël will be 70. They see no reason why standards should slip. Certainly I hope they don't but given the sudden departure of of Noël Pinguet, a towering presence at the domaine and in Vouvray, for over 30 years, it is inevitable that they will be somewhat under the microscope. Although to be fair when Noël started working with Gaston Huet, his father-in-law, in 1971 he had no previous winemaking experience.
Grapes in the Clos du Bourg (above and below)
One of the very few sizeable bunches
Picking will start here on Tuesday. It will be unfair to judge the new regime on what they make in 2012 given that it has been such a difficult year. It will unquestionably be a small vintage. The Clos de Bourg appears to have a very small crop, with perhaps a little more in Le Mont but not by very much.
The quality is still in question; the weather forecast over the next week isn't very favourable with some rain announced for most days. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be particularly wet. Of course this can change but there is a small amount of rot around and the weather will determine which way it goes: noble or grey. Given that the grape skins are pretty tough this year, the Chenin may resist quite well. Fingers crossed!
* NB Hugo's second name is Stefan, so the Stefan mentioned in earlier posts is Hugo and not someone else.