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1997 was one of the Loire's valleys greatest ever vintages for sweet wines, and this represents the finest selection of grapes from Huet's Le Haut-Lieu vineyard. This wine is strictly limited to 12 bottles per customer.
I had two bottles of the 20-year-old 1997 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux Première Trie and they were pretty different, as were the Le Mont Moelleux Première Tries from the same tasting. The first Haut-Lieu I opened displayed an intense and luminescent golden-orange color followed by an intense, concentrated bouquet with dark caramel, white nougat, burnt milk and vegetal aromas (legumes). Very sweet but also salty, finessed and vibrantly fresh on the palate, this is a remarkably lithe but intense, tight and complex Haut-Lieu with great tension, finesse and complexity on the powerful, herbal (marjoram), slightly bitter and astringent finish.
That bitter and astringent finish convinced me to open the second bottle, just to make sure it was due to bottle variation and not a problem with the wine. In fact, the second bottle was purer, finer, fresher and more precise on the nose, provided with spicy lime rind aromas. This bottle doesn't show any bitterness on the palate but has good grip and mineral tension which balances the sweetness of 83 grams perfectly. This bottling shows great purity, finesse and elegance on the palate, with delicate but persistent salinity. The wine is dense and compact and the apricot fruit is very clear and concentrated, the finish lovely, refreshing and salty. There is still great aging potential for the 1997 Clos du Bourg.
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