Grapevine Archive for 1959
Quick visit to Domaine Huet at Vouvray in the Loire valley with Sebastian Payne MW.We’d just come from Saumur-Champigny and were pleased to be offered a little lunch of local produce – rillettes, rillons, sweet boudin and a bowl of tomatoes for the one of our 5 a day that we were likely to get. Before, during and afterwards, Noel Pinguet, who many members will know from his Society tastings in the UK and at the Domaine (48 members are due to visit in a fortnight’s time), showed us his wines.
As members know, the vineyards of Vouvray are pretty special in that they can make a vin sec, a demi-sec and a vin moelleux from same vineyards, not to mention the sparkling. Given this diversity, perhaps we should offer a tasting case: maybe 2 bottles of sec and demi-sec, one each moelleux and sparkling? What do members think?
Sebastian asked Noel to talk a little about his vineyards being biodynamic. He described how the natural way of cultivating vines back in the 1920s reminded him that it is possible to make great wine without too much intervention. With a scientific background, one can understand his initial scepticism, but he’s been following the biodynamic now for some years, and while he doesn’t know why it works, he knows that it does! He describes himself as “a practising non believer in biodynamics”.
After the biodynamics have had their influence in the vineyard, we come to the most important part of winemaking according to Noel – the pressing. Dependant on the vintage, quite different amounts of time are required – 20 minutes only in 2004 and 4 hours in 2003, all very gentle. After the pressing, as Noel says, “the less we touch the better” but we are sure he does actually work all the year through.
Confirming the quality over the decades, Noel treated us to a couple of unlabelled bottles from his museum bin. These sensationally well-preserved bottles are re-corked every 30 years or so, and it was a privilege to taste both a very light and balanced 1959 and a richer, darker 1921 with definite burnt caramel tones. These vintages are, according to him, among the greatest of the century for Vouvray: others include 1947 and 1989 (which will be like the 1921 with similar age – if only any of us were around to appreciate it).
As we left and thanked him for his visit he mentioned that he had many members of The Society visiting him and he always welcomes them with a special tour effort so do make the detour to Vouvray when you can.