Noel Pinguet Leaving Domaine Huet
Some big news: Noel Pinguet is quitting Domaine Huet after more than 30 years as its winemaker. The son-in-law of the legendary Gaston Huet, Pinguet is leaving because of differences with the domaine’s owners, the Hwang family. The Hwangs want to increase production of the estate’s dry Vouvrays; Pinguet objected to the change and decided to leave three years ahead of his planned retirement from the celebrated Loire domaine.
This afternoon, I emailed Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Company, which imports Huet to the United States, to ask about Pinguet’s rumored departure, and he sent me the following:
Noel is indeed leaving. There’s an article in La Revue du Vin de France that is basis for the rumor. If you haven’t read it, here it is:
The long and the short of it, from my point of view, is that he will be a loss to the estate, but we owe it to the estate and its long history to put his departure in context: this is not the end of Huet’s long period of greatness. Some points:
The quality will not change. In fact, the quality and consistency have only improved in the Hwang era. And I think that committing to a larger proportion of Sec wines (which the world has warmly welcomed and, as the RVF article notes, has been encouraged by the Hwangs) will only strengthen the demi-sec and dessert wines at this estate – refining the selection of fruit for these cuvées.
The long time cellar-master/vineyard manager, Jean-Bernard Berthomé, and Noel’s hand-picked successor, Benjamin Joliveau, are both staying on and committed to building on the strong base they’ve inherited from Noel (and Gaston Huet before him).
Furthermore, as the RVF article points out, Noel had already planned his departure (in 2015). The team he leaves behind is highly skilled and passionate.
Just looking back over the past 2 or 3 years, you get a strong sense of the positive influences the Hwangs have had on the estate. I am absolutely confident in the future.