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Huet at Martin Wishart by Raeburn Fine Wines 06/09/2004 (TNB)

Can one drink Vouvray throughout a meal? I did recently with great pleasure, perhaps because the variations of sweetness and the evolution in the bottle can match different courses and, more importantly to my mind, give a progression of style though the evening. It helped too that the wines were from one of the great estates of the wine world: Huet. I have drunk a lot of wines from this grower and can hardly remember one I did not enjoy - the consistency here is awesome. The dinner was at Martin Wishart, who serves the best food in the city by a very long way and the event was hosted by Raeburn Fine Wines with Noel Pinguet from Huet.

We started by tasting a few 2002's - a vintage the domain thinks is exceptional. They were very good indeed, and the Cuvee Constance is awesome, with a combination of concentration, botrytis and acidity not unlike a top TBA. One curiosity was an Haut Lieu demi-sec wine made from ungrafted vines. It had a fantastic, easy openness without being in the least facile, and many preferred it to the demi-sec from Le Mont. I thought though that the latter had more minerality and complexity, perhaps because the ungrafted vines are young. And they won't get old either - as I understand it the expectation is they will keel over in time because of phylloxera. Experimentation in this direction is quite common in France currently and it will be interesting to see where it leads.

And the older wines were all lovely too. The 1998 Le Haut Lieu sec was quite ready from a minor vintage and the 1993 Le Mont demisec has turned out really well - pretty much dry now, openly mouthfilling and very much at peak. And then on to the seriously old stuff. The 1961 Haut Lieu demi-sec nutty, less clearly Chenin and more fine old wine - still completely fresh though and a 5-star wine. The 1959 Le Mont 1er Tri Moelleux more ravishing still - creme brulee, nuts, cloves even - absolutely compelling. In between, the 1993 Cuvee Constance: fine but much less spectacular than the 2002. In this vintage they made no other Moelleux, which seems a bit odd.

I have a few bottles of Huet myself, and although I am trying to cut back the cellar a bit they won't be for sale. Given how long-lived these wines are it is hard to have too much, particularly of the good years: in fact I have no vintages since 1990 so instead I will be stocking up a bit more. It is very noticable that while the great vintages take decades to hit their stride, the lesser ones (like the 93s and 98 here) are lovely at five to ten years old. These wines are slowly becoming more expensive but remain one of the great bargains of the wine world provided you can cellar them for a few years.


Dinner added to Fine Wine Diary 12/10/2004   Return to top