A Bottle of Red, A Bottle of White
These are tasting notes for two wines that I had with dinner a few nights ago. Domaine Huet is a legendary estate in the Loire Valley’s Vouvray appellation. It turns out some of the world’s most delicious and distinctive white wines, which have the added virtue of generally being very affordable. Huet showcases chenin blanc in all its Protean glory, producing dry, off-dry, sweet, and sparkling wines. In this instance, we opened one of Huet’s three dry wines, the 2009 Clos du Bourg sec. The domaine acquired the Clos du Bourg vineyard in 1963, and the late Gaston Huet apparently considered it Vouvray’s greatest site. It has very shallow topsoil set over solid limestone and yields rich, intense wines that are known for their piercing minerality. This was my first Huet from the widely praised 2009 vintage, and I liked what I tasted.
The other wine was the Domaine Michel Lafarge 2005 Bourgogne Pinot Noir. Lafarge is a renowned producer in Burgundy’s Volnay appellation. I think Volnay is one of the Côte d’Or’s sweetest spots, yielding earthy, elegant wines that for me are the essence of Burgundy. Lafarge’s Volnay Clos des Chênes is a benchmark wine, but the whole range is excellent, and that includes the Bourgogne Pinot Noir. Lafarge has long made one of the finest Bourgognes on the market; it comes from 40-year-old vines located just down the hill from the vineyards of Volnay and is known as Lafarge’s “baby Volnay.” I was particularly interested to taste the 2005, to see how this justly acclaimed vintage is progressing. The short answer: glacially.
My tasting notes:
Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec 2009 ($30)
A terrific perfume to this one, with aromas of apple, lime, chalk, and flowers. Bursting with quince and citrus notes on the palate, the wine showcases the ripeness of the 09 vintage, but there is plenty of acidity and minerality to parry the richness of the fruit. Indeed, it is the balance and harmony that really stand out here, which is no small achievement in a vintage this warm and sun-splashed. While the wine is drinking beautifully now, it is certainly has the structure to age. Huet rules. A-
Domaine Michel Lafarge Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005 (this has basically disappeared from the market; according to Wine-Searcher.com, only one retailer in the United States currently stocks it, and the price is $35)
Closed tighter than a clam shell initially, but opens up a bit with time in the glass. Has the deliciously crunchy fruit that is characteristic of the 05 vintage, with an appealing earthiness, brisk acidity, and big but ripe tannins. The Lafarge Bourgogne almost always punches above its weight, and this one is no exception. However, the wine is still several years from reaching its peak, and given the fact that it is a mere Bourgogne, that tells you something about the vintage: patience required! B+