MARLBOROUGH - 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.
Clos Henri uses natural methods from the vineyard to the winery, practices dry farming and is a proud member of MANA: Marlborough Natural Winegrowers. The estate has been fully certified organic by the harvest of 2013.“We believe that natural wine-growing techniques paired with no irrigation, leads to true terroir expression in our varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and produces fruit of the highest quality possible” says Damien Yvon, General Manager and Winemaker.
Sauvignon Blanc 2018
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.
95 points, Bob Campbell MW - “Unirrigated vines planted in Greywacke river stones. It's 10% barrel-fermented. Quite a rich, textural, and concentrated sauvignon blanc with gooseberry, capsicum, oyster-shell and a suggestion of passionfruit supported by lively acidity.”
Pinot Noir 2010 (museum release)
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.
95 points, Bob Campbell MW - “Tasted alongside the 2011 vintage this wine was more accessible with greater fruit intensity - it is clearly a better wine although the extra year in bottle may have helped. Red fruits including plum, cherry and a suggestion of raspberry with spice/anise and oak influence.”
The Petit Clos wines are excellent ‘mini-me’s’. 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.