wine-searcher.com / Doux d’Henry Wine
Doux d’Henry is a dark-skinned grape variety that, despite its French name, is in fact Italian. While it is an obscure variety, it holds a significant place in western Piedmontese winemaking. Not only is it recommended (as opposed to prohibited or just permitted) in all wines from the Torino province, it has its own dedicated DOC in the form of Pinerolese Doux d’Henry from Pinerolo.
That an Italian grape has a French name (which translates roughly as Henry’s Sweet) could be put down to political and historical reasons. Doux d’Henry comes from far western Piedmont, the very northwestern corner of Italy. It is believed to have originated from the Valle del Chisone, the valley which the Chisone river has dug into the alpine rock over many millions of years. At the foot of this valley is Pinerolo, a town which held a key strategic position between France and Italy during the Middle Ages. As a major access route over the Alps, the town and the valley above it were coveted by various powers between the 13th and 17th Centuries, most notably the house of Savoy (which gave its name to the French Savoie region). It is likely that the Henry referred to is a reference to one of the French kings, possibly Henri II, King of France when Pinerolo first came under French control.
Doux d’Henry vines can be identified by the white, downy fluff on the young shoots in spring and the red-tinged extremities of their leaves during the summer. The grapes produced by Doux d’Henry vines are large and tend towards larger cluster sizes. As with many larger-berried and thin-skinned varieties, the variety’s thin skin (relative to berry size) makes it more susceptible to fungal diseases and rot. Fortunately the variety is late flowering, which reduces the risk of wet weather reducing crop size. It is also relatively late ripening, which is ideal for Piedmont’s cool, bright growing season.
At the dawn of the 21st Century, Doux d’Henry vines covered just 42 acres (17 ha) of vineyard, limited exclusively to western Piedmont. Almost all of these are used to make delicate, fragrant wines with sour cherry characters under the Pinerolo Doux d’Henry name.
Synonyms include: Doux d’Henri, Gros d’Henry.
Food matches for Doux d’Henry include:
- Pasta with fresh ricotta cheese
- Roasted duck breast
- Creamy mushrooms on toast with parmesan