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Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Réserve 2002

Fresh back from the Salon des Vins de Loire, you might think I would turn somewhere other that the Loire Valley for the weekend's drinking. Of course not! In fact it was a Vouvray-fuelled weekend, with several bottles from both Huet and Foreau meeting their maker. It was only Sunday's boeuf en croute that drew me away from this particular appellation, as somehow I didn't think Chenin Blanc in whatever form, sparkling or still, dry or sweet, would be the right choice. There are naturally lots of other good Loire options that would have worked well in that situation, although as it happens my hand was drawn by a mystical force towards a bottle of Haut-Bailly. Well, it happens, doesn't it?

One of the Vouvrays in question was the 2002 Pétillant Réserve from Domaine Huet, and while I was savouring every pétillant prickle I found myself reflecting on what a great vintage this year was for the Loire. The Muscadets were superb - I tasted both the L d'Or and Excelsior cuvées from Luneau-Papin at the Salon, not for the first time - and they were the most exciting wines in a range of vintages from 1999 through to 2011. I will reserve judgement on the 2012, which may well challenge 2002 for its crown in this region, but not necessarily elsewhere. I have also enjoyed many red wines, from Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil in particular. And as for Vouvray, the wines are superb; they have a wonderful combination of appropriate fruit richness and tense acidity; that's why I included so many in my recent 2002 Ten Years On tasting. But then, I thought to myself, Winedoctor readers know all this already, as I have already expounded at length on the quality of the vintage. And I've already featured the 2002 Pétillant Réserve as my Weekend Wine, haven't I?

What's that? I haven't? Huh? How remiss of me. Well, I'm putting that straight now.

Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Réserve 2002

This is, for me, the most exciting pétillant Vouvray I can recall tasting. Incidentally, it says something of the strength of the vintage that I would probably put the 2002 Foreau Réserve in second place. Sticking with Huet for now, the 2002 Pétillant Réserve is the same wine as the straight 2002 Pétillant cuvée (which I have written up before now, here), but given extra time on its lees, or sur lattes as it is also sometimes expressed. I know it's not a style that appeals to everybody, as there is a little leesy concentration to it that you don't find in a lot of Vouvray, but to my palate it screams Vouvray typicité, and so I can't really see what the problem is; it is full of the minerally character of the appellation and of honest flavours that indicate the variety clearly. And so to me it remains a great wine, one that is very true to the appellation.

In the glass the Domaine Huet 2002 Vouvray Pétillant Réserve has a rich golden hue, as it has always had, as well as a fine but firm and confident bead. Aromatically it displays classically honeyed minerals, with fruit notes suggestive of apples, pears, almonds and cream, and although there is a leesy richness to it all I think it is less overt than I have found in previous bottles. On the palate it feels pure, concentrated and confident, with a very smoky and minerally palate, showing lots of texture and breadth through the middle. The minerally edge is firm, not needle-bright, but gloriously attractive, especially combined with the fruit and texture, and backed up by the fine acidity. This is a very impressive wine, creamy but bright, defined and with a delightful mousse, the composition remaining firm and challenging despite the richness also evident. Long, very classic in terms of flavour, still with a very confident mousse, and with massive potential for the future. Great wine. 18.5/20 (11/2/13)

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