LOIRE VALLEY - FRANCE
For wine lovers around the world, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé have a place in their hearts as two of the finest dry whites. The Sancerre vineyards are spread over chalky, stony soils, rich in marine fossils. They lie on a series of southeastern facing slopes that, from a distance, form one large hill interrupting the flat waterways of the upper Loire. Pouilly-Fumé resides across the river on the other bank from Sancerre. Its main difference, aside from aspect, is the presence of flint in the soils, giving the wine its great minerality and smoky notes.
The Bourgeois family have been wine-makers in Sancerre for ten generations. Jancis Robinson MW in the Oxford Wine Companion describes Henri Bourgeois as “meticulous growers, producing the best of Sancerre”. Andrew Jefford describes Henri Bourgeois as a “high quality Sancerre house that is run with deafening energy” in his book, The New France. Put simply, Henri Bourgeois is consistently one of the best growers in Sancerre; they make beautiful wines that are highly awarded.
Jean-Marie Bourgeois and family have owned vineyards near the village of Chavignol since 1950. Today they farm 65 hectares of premium vines, enviably located among the best slopes of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Domaine Henri Bourgeois operates an ethos whereby ultimate respect for the terroir is paramount, their generations of experience merges with the adoption of innovation and technology — to produce some of the finest wines in the region.
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.
Henri Bourgeois ‘Petit Bourgeois’ Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Wine Enthusiast - “A fragrant version, with grapefruit aromas and flavours, as well as hints of gooseberry and spice. Vibrant. Drink now."
Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “A cuvée sourced from various parcels of vines outside the Sancerre appellation, on a mix of terroirs. This has just been bottled. A fresh profile on the nose, very classic, with lovely purity, varietal but with a sense of class, box tree touched with a buttercream richness. The palate is fine, quite pithy, with an attractive substance, dressed with sage and herby energy, with a nice if somewhat grainy phenolic bite, and fresh acidity. A pretty wine.”
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre ‘La Vigne Blanche’ 2019
Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “This currently rests in cuve and it is due to be bottled in six weeks. This immediately takes a big step up in terms of quality, compared to the Petit Bourgeois cuvée, with a precise, charged and more mineral character on the nose, although it remains varietally true. There follows a very focused palate, fresh and pure, with succulent substance and bright acidity. Supple, charming, with a correct finish, a wine of pretty tension and charm. Well done.”
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre ‘Jadis’ 2014
96 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com - “The vines are located around Chavignol, some on Les Monts Damnés, some on La Grande Côte. The fruit was vinified in a mix of 300-litre and 600-litre barrels, the same barrels as once used for the Chêne Saint-Etienne cuvée, accounting for between 60% and 65% of the blend. The remainder was vinified in stainless steel cuve. It has been bottled unfiltered, although it has been lightly fined with bentonite. A beautiful purity on the nose here, a very elegant style, with sage, green apple and honeysuckle fruit. The palate, meanwhile, is very fresh, pure and cool, confident, supple, textured, energetic and fresh. It has a lovely tension, with a fine savoury grapefruit bitterness that appeals. This one needs time.”