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Sancerre Tasting at Buon Vino

Sancerre/Pouilly Fumé and New Zealand with Henri Bourgeois

For the second of our Producer led tastings this Autumn, Buon Vino welcomes Alban from Henri Bourgeois wines.

In the Upper Loire the vein of Kimmeridgean limestone extending through Chablis to the Champagne region provides the perfect ‘terroir’ for Sauvignon Blanc to express its taut energy.

The vineyards of Domaine Henri Bourgeois are situated on a range of soils, each of which lends the wines particular nuances.

As part of our tasting of 13 wines, we will be matching the different cuvee of Sancerre with bags of the actual soil from the Vineyard so that we can touch, feel and understand the effect of this unique ‘Terroir’.  This will be a fantastic opportunity to truly taste ‘terroir’ at work!

As well as his superb range of Loire wines, we will also taste the range from Bourgeois’ new project in Marlborough New Zeland.

Finally, as part of our unique tasting event, we will tasting some superb cheeses from the Loire and beyond provided by Andy Swinscoe currently of the Bath Fine Cheese Company and soon to be opening a beautiful new specialist Cheese shop here at the Courtyard.

 The Location: Buon Vino at The Courtyard, A65 just outside Settle

 The Date: Thursday 25th October

 Time: 7pm Sharp!

 Cost: £25 per head

The Wines

 Domaine Henri Bourgeois Sancerre                            Retail Price

 Petit Bourgeois 2011                            £10.95

This lovely little wine misses appellation status by a gnat’s whisker. This belt-tightening faux-Sancerre has undeniable typicity.

Quincy 'Haute Victoire' 2011                 £13.95

Sancerre 'La Vigne Blanche' 2011          £16.95

La Vigne Blanche comes from vines grown on slopes separating the village of Chavignol from Sancerre, the ‘terroir’ being an amalgam of clay and limestone chalk.

Sancerre Blanc 'Le M.D.' 2010               £22.50

The Monts Damnés (M.D.) is from grapes harvested on the Monts Damnés, slopes so steep that they are called “cursed”, it has a grace and flavour that will age and age.  Since the eleventh century noblemen would try to outbid each other just to possess a small parcel of this prized land.

Sancerre Cuvee d'Antan 2008               £33.00

Cuvée d’Antan (70 year old vines) is a different ball of silex made in “the old style” from vines on south-facing slopes. Viticulture is biodynamic, grapes are harvested by hand and after pressing and maceration the wine is left in old wooden barrels for eighteen months batonnage. Racking is done after the full moon. The style is sui generis: the wine fills the mouth with layer after layer of creamy fruit, a touch of breadiness from the lees and the terroir notes of truffle and warm stone.

Sancerre Blanc 'Etienne Henri' 2002      £35.00

The oaked Etienne Henri cuvée comes from the older vines on flint clay slopes.  Such a method of vinification requires top-quality grapes for a successful marriage of wood and wine. Alcoholic fermentation is exclusively in oak barrels followed by 12 months of maturation on fine lees. Result: a fine wine of great complexity.

Pouilly Fume 'La Demoiselle' 2009                   £25.00

Les Demoiselles is a Pouilly-Fumé made from select Sauvignon grapes from the Saint- Laurent Kimmeridgean marls, the site of the first vines planted in Pouilly-Fumé. Around 85% of this wine has been fermented in stainless steel and the other 15% in oak from the Tronçais forest. It is aged on the fine lees for seven to eight months.

Sancerre Rose 'Les Baronnes' 2010                  £17.95

Finally, don’t neglect the rosé, a real wine by any other name, with its lovely nuances of wild strawberry fruit from the 100% Pinot Noir fruit.

Sancerre Rouge 'Les Baronnes' 2008       £17.95

100% Pinot Noir from old vines, elegant, earthy and delicious.  For the red Burgundy devotees, it is a real eye opener!

Clos Henri Marlborough

Le Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc 2011        £11.95

Le Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2010                £13.50

Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2008/2010  £19.95

 

Henri Bourgeois Loire

Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Bland ?
If the description “cat’s pee” sugars your gooseberry you’re probably an avid fan of the Sauvignon grape. Uncork a bottle and a bouquet of flowers, crisp green vegetables and tangy citrus fruits will instantly mug you – truly a grape that refreshes the parts of the nose that other wines cannot reach! These wines, at their best, exemplify the vibrancy and sappiness of a spring morning, and, expressing a cool youthfulness, are dry, zesty, and mouth-watering. Conversely, the joy of sexy Sauvignon is usually an ephemeral one: it is the ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ of grape varieties, raucously promising more than it delivers. The initial dramatic aggressive impact is never bettered: the wine will rarely develop in the glass nor acquire complexity with further age, surely the sign of a noble grape. As the bard says “Present mirth hath present laughter… youth’s a stuff will not endure”. And yet… In the Upper Loire the vein of Kimmeridgean limestone extending through Chablis to the Champagne region provides the perfect terroir for Sauvignon to express its taut energy. The vineyards of Domaine Henri Bourgeois are situated on a range of soils, each of which lends the wines particular nuances. Tasting Sancerre Jadis or Sancerre d’Antan is a back-to-the-future experience. These are wines made from low yielding old vines (50+ & 70+ years respectively) on tiny plots of organically farmed land, labours of love and acknowledgements to the rhythms of the past, yet they also reveal the potential of the Sauvignon grape when released from its primary role as nose-piercing thirst-quencher. With their complete structure and fine mineral edge these wines will age more than thirty years proving that Sauvignon can be a real pleasure when it’s serious.

Bourgeois in the Loire

An acclaimed producer whose wines exhibit the complexity of the terroir of Chavignol, being chalky with a touch of gunflint, initially steely, then ripening in the mouth with a broad array of flavours and wonderful length. The Monts Damnés (M.D.) is from grapes harvested on the Monts Damnes, slopes so steep that they are called “cursed”. A grace
and flavour wine that will age and age. Since the eleventh century noblemen would try to outbid each other just to possess a small parcel of this prized land. We would also draw your attention to the manifold other cuvées. The wittily titled Petit Bourgeois misses appellation status by a gnat’s whisker. This belt-tightening faux-Sancerre has undeniable
typicity. La Vigne Blanche comes from vines grown on slopes separating the village of Chavignol from Sancerre, the terroir being an amalgam of clay and limestone chalk. Oak aged in barrel for five months on the fine lees, La Vigne Blanche is vinous with herbaceous notes of elderflower and ivy as well as a hint of kiwi fruit. Cuvée d’Antan (70 year old vines) is a different ball of silex made in “the old style” from vines on south-facing slopes. Viticulture is biodynamic, grapes are harvested by hand and after pressing and maceration the wine is left in old wooden barrels for eighteen months batonnage. Racking is done after the full moon. The style is sui generis: the wine fills the mouth with layer after layer of creamy fruit, a touch of breadiness from the lees and the terroir notes of truffle and warm
stone. The Jadis is grown on Kimmeridgean Marl (60 year old vines) and is made according to grandfather’s recipe. This is a wine of great charisma; very aromatic and concentrated. Complex and well-balanced, Sancerre Jadis reveals aromas of exotic fruits and honey. The oaked Etienne Henri cuvée comes from the older vines on flint clay slopes. Such a method of vinification requires top-quality grapes for a successful marriage of wood and wine. Alcoholic fermentation is exclusively in oak barrels followed by 12 months of maturation on fine lees. Result: a fine wine of great complexity. Les Demoiselles is a Pouilly-Fumé made from select Sauvignon grapes from the Saint- Laurent Kimmeridgean marls, the site of the first vines planted in Pouilly-Fumé. Around 85% of this wine has been fermented in stainless steel and the other 15% in oak from the Tronçais forest. It is aged on the fine lees for seven to eight months. Finally, don’t neglect the rosé, a real wine by any other name, with its lovely nuances of wild strawberry fruit. All the wines are sublime with cheese.
Once upon a time, o best beloved, a great oak was planted in what would become the National Forest of Saint-Palais near Bourges. As the centuries passed it grew bigger and stronger and one day became the eldest and most majestic of a line of great oaks that were used to build the frame of the Saint Etienne cathedral in Bourges. Located at the crossroads of telluric forces (yes, this was a feng shui oak tree), legend has it that Sully, King Charles V and Agnès Sorel came to rest at the foot of this great oak and many others since used it as a place of assignation. But in 1993 a violent storm struck down the 433 year-old tree. In the subsequent auction the Bourgeois family outbid interested buyers from around the world to preserve this piece of local culture and to renew it by crafting it into barrels in which they placed the fruit of their most cherished Sauvignon and Pinot vines. As you wipe away a misty tear know that the wines are magnificent, liquid testaments to the vessel in which they have been aged. “Old noted oak! I saw thee in a mood /Of vague indifference; and yet with me /Thy memory, like thy fate, hath lingering stood /For years, thou hermit, in the lonely sea /Of grass that waves around thee!”

Bourgeois in New Zealand

Clos Henri is a 96-hectare property purchased in March 2001. The natural, unspoiled land that Clos Henri sits upon drew the attention and admiration of the Bourgeois family who have been farming in Sancerre for ten generations. Historically a sheep station, the virgin land was untouched by the cut of a plough, fertilizers or much human interference.  It was this pristine healthy soil that convinced Jean-Marie Bourgeois and his family that this vineyard would be unequalled in the area, and to start their art, passion and tradition anew in Marlborough. With every intention of maintaining the bio-friendly status of the land, the Bourgeois undertook a lengthy process of reviving the soil by planting nutrient rich legumes and crops to adjust the slight nutrient deficiencies their vines would need prior to the first plantings in August 2001. Planting only six hectares a year, the Clos Henri property will take 12 years to fully transform from farm to vineyard.  The site is unique in that it consists of several soil types – gravels and clays as well as sloping land and hillsides. The gravel is found in Renwick: it’s this that contributes to the fame of the region’s Sauvignon. The result of ancient rivers this type of soil provides wines with elegance and crispness. The second kind of soil is found in Broadbridge, a greyish-brown clay with ochre tints (indicating a high iron content), appropriate to the cultivation of Pinot Noir. Wines produced here are round with complex aromas and good length. The final soil in Clos Henri, a kind of yellow-grey clay, is to be found on the very steep slopes of Wither where the vines enjoy excellent exposure to the sun. All these soils have only been used for pasture and never exposed to insecticides, herbicides or any other form of chemical treatments. The Bourgeois family are committed to maintain the local biodiversity.  The Sauvignon is matured on the fine lees, and, to conserve the delicious citrus flavours, the wine does not undergo  malolactic fermentation. So Sancerre or Marlborough Sauvignon? Well, it has stunning aromatic complexity and harmonious mineral and fruit nuances as well as a purity and freshness that suggests good ageing potential. It combines gentle passion fruit and citrus blossom characters unusual in New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, with more leanness of
texture and complex intensity in the citrus to passion fruit spectrum. The Pinot Noir is made from hand-harvested grapes. Following a three-week maceration in stainless steel tanks, the wine is fermented in small half-tonne open fermenters with gentle hand plunging to enhance optimum colour and tannin extraction and subsequently matured in French barrels with only 30 % new oak and a light filtration prior to bottling. The style again is French; the primary fruit is suggestive of mocha and red berries, there’s fruit concentration and roundness and delightfully harmonious tannins. It has texture and contours as they might say in France. The Petit Clos wines are excellent mini-mes. These are the younger vines of Clos Henri, made from similarly low yields.  Stainless steel all the way for the Sauvignon, whilst the Pinot is aged in 9% new oak (very precise). The former tends towards the grapefruit and tangerine with a hint of lees for structural support, whilst the Pinot has vibrant red fruit and a subtle smokiness.  Ste. Solange is the name of the Marlborough church the Bourgeois family found to relocate to the vineyard site to act as cellar door and office. It has since become both Clos Henri's logo and undisputed heart. This small country church originally from the village of Ward, some 50kms south of Blenheim, was deconsecrated and put up for sale in 2001 by its parishioners. Built in the early 1920's from a New Zealand native timber, Rimu, the chapel was lovingly well kept and survived its move to the  vineyard over both the Awatere River and the Wither Hills.  The Bourgeois named the chapel "Ste. Solange" after their patron saint of the vineyards and in the memory of Henri Bourgeois's wife, Solange Bourgeois. Ste. Solange also acts as a tie to the Bourgeois' domaine in France and the logo by which it is recognized in Sancerre - the image of the pointed spire of the church in Chavignol, the village in which the estate is located.

 

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