Huet

13 November 2017

[Working journal while I continue to obsessively assemble a project of dubious interest & limited appeal.]

Huet

As we’ve established, chenin blanc is the Plant of the Place of the People of the Place. After spending yesterday afternoon bouncing between the names of California counties & how to translate “Rheingau”, it’s time to return to the Loire (from liger—’silty’ —the Gaulish, then Latin, name for the river, and so an irresistable invitation to render as “Muddy Waters”).

Today’s what is making me happy is the list’s name for Huet. When you’ve been making wine in Vouvray a decade before Vouvray was even a legal appellation (1936), when the son who founded the estate with his father literally walked home from a concentration camp in 1945 to vinify one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century, when your wines epitomize the possibilities across the whole spectrum of dry to sweet of chenin grown on limestone & age along the same scale as a full and well-lived human lifetime, I hope your name translates well.

Huet: “un sobriquet c’est un dérivé de hugues hugues est un prénom du genre masculin l’origine de ce nom est germanique son étymologie vient de hug : l’esprit, l’intelligence.”

Which is to say, from “hugues“, itself from the Germanic root hug: the mind, the spirit.

“Wine of Mind & Spirit”! This is perfect. This is basically what the wine is. Too good. If there is anything that encapsulates the transparency, the combination of intellectual depth and emotional appeal of these wines, it’s that. I am so happy.

Ok, mopping-up time. Three vineyards: the original, Le Haut-Lieu (“High Place”); Le Mont (bought 1957, “The Hill”); and Clos du Bourg, farmed since 1953 and finally acquired a decade later (clos of course meaning walled vineyard, this one dating to the 700s, and bourg is a great one; here’s its etymology in Christina Blackie’s fantastic 1887 Geographical Etymology: A Dictionary of Place-Names Giving Their Derivations, which I just found on Google Books and is exactly what I needed all along and I’ve ordered it on Amazon and I am sort of scared that this is going to start spiraling soon … Ok. Basically related to burg, burgh, borg, and borgo et al, from the Teutonic bergen, “to cover and protect”, literally a town or city enclosed by walls, often on a hill, so that berg, hill, and burg, fortified town, were frequently used synonymously, and also for free I get Marlbourough from that entry in the unlikely event I put New Zealand sauvignon blanc on this list: “anc. Merlberga, town situated at the foot of a hill of white stones.”)

Vouvray, the appellation itself, is a little trickier. You can trace it back to a first mention in the 8th century as Vobridus, but nobody will give me an etymology for that, and a few sources say specifically that the meaning is unclear, obscure, or forgotten. Nuts to that!

So we go to a second-order abstraction. Vobridus is mentioned as the possession of the Abbey of Saint-Martin of Tours. So I learned the saintly attributes of Martin of Tours today: Born in Hungary in the 4th century to a tribune in the Imperial Horse Guard, later himself became a member of the elite cavalry bodyguard of the Emperor, traveled all over Europe (mainly he was stationed in Pavia), eventually converted to Christianity and resigned his commission, and then there’s a lot of other incident before he gets to Tours and starts chopping down pagan pine trees, most famous of which being the time he cuts his cloak in half with a sword to give to a beggar in winter. Also among his attributes are a ball of fire, and a goose.

At least one legend has it that he single-handedly planted the first vines in Vouvray. So we’ll take that as our extended translation of the village, sure: Belonging to the Abbey of the Saint who Shared His Cloak. Clunky, but what are you going to do?

Sec and demi-sec are pretty self-explanatory (dry, semi-dry); moelleux is fun, though. Comes from low Latin medullosus, filled with marrow; used in several senses (per Larousse): soft and elastic, as for a carpet or a pillow; tender, as in meat, or tone of voice; sweet and velvety to the taste, ear, or sight, as for example a soft chocolate, a babbling brook, or a fine drapery; in literature, who is graceful, flexible, soft and round, curvy, sensual.

I would like to drink some Huet now, please. 2008 demi-sec if you can get it. That wine sends shivers down my spine it’s so good.

= Territory of the Strong =
Village Belonging to the Abbey of the Saint Who Shared His Cloak +
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Dry, “The High Place” 2009
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Dry, “The High Place” 1981
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “The High Place” 2009
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “Free-Footed Vines of the High Place” 2009
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Sweet Marrow, “First Sorting at the High Place” 1993
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Dry, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1961
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 2015
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1992 (half bottle)
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Sweet Marrow, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1989
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Sweet Marrow, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1985
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Sweet Marrow, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1964
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Sweet Marrow, “Walled Vineyard of the Walled Town” 1959
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Dry, “The Hill” 2015
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Dry, “The Hill” 1996
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “The Hill” 2015
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “The Hill” 1993
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “The Hill” 1985
Wine of Mind & Spirit, Half-Dry, “The Hill” 1969

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