2018 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec

Year: 2018
Appellation: Loire Valley
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 93
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 93
Dessert Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price :

"Round and expressive, with great balance between the sweetness of orchard fruit and bracing acidity reminiscent of clementine. Jasmine and sweet spice notes emerge midpalate, while ground ginger details mark the velvety finish. Drink now through 2034. 2,100 cases made. -AZ" (WS)

"The 2018 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec is clear, bright and fresh on the chalky/spicy nose. Round and lush on the palate, the 2018 is a dense, refined and charmingly sweet Haut-Lieu with accessible fruit and a stimulatingly salty finish that reveals very fine tannins and lovely sur-lie texture. This is a delicious Chenin from Vouvray but still young. Tasted in May 2019.

The 30th vintage of biodynamic farming at Vouvray’s Domaine Huet, 2018 brought “grapes of great purity and richness. Rarely has nature been so generous both in the quantity of grapes and in the quality of the wine,” says the domaine’s the vintage report, summarizing a harvest that took place under “idyllic conditions” toward the end of the season.

A rather classic winter in Vouvray—“the one that we hope for every year, but which has been too rare in recent years”—was followed by a spring with “the most optimal conditions.” The heat of May and early June “greatly favored the growth of the vines.”

A downpour of 16 millimeters in two hours on June 16 immediately increased the pressure of mildew, but “strengthened by our unfortunate past experiences, we acted with determination to support the vines, and they stood without damage,” the report says.

A hot and dry summer with temperatures above seasonal norms didn’t cause any hydric stress, which is an effect of biodynamic farming and the “vital balance” between the soil, the plants and the environment, as the report stresses.

The hot season transitioned seamlessly into the fall, so physiological maturity was reached quickly. When the harvest began on September 17, under the best auspices—heat, sunlight, and good humor among the harvest team—the phenolic and aromatic maturity was also reached. “Under the benevolence of the solar star, time passed in a flash, and we ended the harvest on October 26, just prior to the full moon. This harvest was among the longest in our history, and oh, how satisfying!”

Huet’s 2018 vintage brought just one single Vouvray Sec, and this is the Clos du Bourg. Some weeks later, a Moelleux and Première Tri were also selected here. In the Haut-Lieu and Le Mont, everything from Demi-Sec to Première Trie was produced. Although I have often tended toward Le Mont, 2018 brought some terrific Clos du Bourg, and I couldn’t stop tasting the sites side by side so many times until the bottles were completely emptied. Rarely have I tasted Clos du Bourgs with such a perfect balance of ripe fruit and the most delicate finesse, especially when it comes to the sweet wines, of which the Première Trie might be the finest Huet wine of the vintage. Oh, these wines are so gentle and gracious! Le Mont, again, comes close to perfection in 2018 but needs time to develop even its very first accessibility. It was meticulous work sorting grapes to produce such a high-quality range of styles in the Le Mont terroir with its tuffeaux and quartzite soils. Doubtlessly, these are concentrated yet pure and mineral wines of outstanding class and finesse. Huet also produced a Cuvée Constance in 2018, but the wine was not yet ready to taste in May, as it had just been bottled four weeks prior, in the middle of April, following six months of cellar aging. I can only recommend cellaring as much of this as you and yours can drink. Although the 2018s already taste beautiful, these wines can be cellared for decades. There is no lack of freshness nor of purity, and the body weight is perfectly balanced. However, if ever you get the chance to get your hands on the 2017s, which are also terribly precise but also concentrated and very persistent, you should definitely seize the opportunity." (WA)

"The 2018 Demi-Sec Le Haut-Lieu offers up a beguiling mix of candied lemon peel, passion fruit, jasmine, ginger and marzipan. Medium in body and intensely perfumed, the Demi-Sec is so harmonious. Bright saline underpinnings add a lovely counterpoint to the wine's natural richness. " (VM)