2016 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux

Year: 2016
Appellation: Loire Valley
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 95
Wine Advocate: 92
Dessert Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 12.0%
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Le Haut-Lieu
The estate’s first vineyard, purchased in 1928. Le Haut-Lieu's 9 hectares have the richest soils and, generally, this vineyard yields the estate’s most precocious wines.

"Gorgeous crystallized ginger, dried quince, glazed pear and warm persimmon notes are seamlessly interwoven here, gliding through a lengthy finish that picks up a lilting green tea accent. Frankly off-dry but wonderfully pure. Drink now through 2035. 700 cases made. -JM" (WS)

"Huet's 2016 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux offers a clear, fresh and intense bouquet of ripe and super-ripe fruits along with some chalky aromas. Lush, sweet and piquant, with cooked apricot flavors on the palate, this is a generous, precise and very elegant Haut-Lieu that will develop very well over the next several decades. The wine has grip and tension on the finish and reveals a persistent salty purity. There is no makeup anywhere but pure potential. A gorgeous wine not because it's sweet (51 grams of residual sugar) but lush, precise, long and stimulating. Tasted February 2018.

Huet's winemaker Jean-Bernard Barthomé classifies the complicated 2016 vintage as "exceptional" in so far as the frost from April 27th reduced 50% of the potential yields. 2016 was also exceptional due to the endless rainfalls in spring that were followed by an exceptional period of drought between July and November. The harvest? "Exceptional!" It started October 6th and went on for three beautiful weeks under a blue, luminous sky. "Beautiful conditions prior to and during the harvest allowed us to make multiple passes through the vineyards," he said, which led to the production of the entire range of table wines from Sec to Première Trie and even the rarely produced "Cuvée Constance" (I haven't tasted the latter yet, though). Bottled in April 2017, all the wines are very delicate, elegant, pure and superbly balanced expressions of their specific terroirs. The Clos du Bourg Moelleux is the first since 2009, and it is fabulous. However, my personal wine of the vintage is the 2016 Le Mont Moelleux Première Trie, which is a very complex and truly exciting Chenin Blanc from flint and green clay soils! Its light, fresh, pure and concentrated style reflects the vintage perfectly, with firm yet vibrant structure, a salty taste, crystalline acidity and a long, complex finish that reflects the great terroir of Le Mont.

The 2015 Cuvée Constance is terribly rich, sweet and intense, a deep and unctuously textured sweet wine to be enjoyed many years from now.

From Huet's German importer I received the three 1997 Première Tries, of which the Clos du Bourg was absolutely amazing. Its lightness, great finesse and elegance is not far from 2016, but 20 years of bottle aging have added enormous complexity. This wine is still available, and Chenin Blanc lovers shouldn't miss it. The bottles I had from Le Mont were not in the best shape, though. When I have the chance to taste it again, you'll read about it." (WA)