"This project, from the Loire Valley's Bourgeois family, has turned out a dark, concentrated 2015 Pinot Noir. It's oaky, with plenty of cedar and vanilla on the nose, but it backs that up with pretty cherry fruit and some savory, earthy notes. Unless you enjoy overt oak, I'd suggest cellaring this for a couple of years and then drinking it over the next decade." Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Jancis Robinson - Previous Vintage Review
"This is by way of an introduction to my tasting notes on more than 120 2003 Pinots from all over New Zealand which I will be publishing in purple pages later this week. It’s also a bit unusual as a) I was not terrifically impressed by Marlborough Pinots in general and b), sorry Kiwis, this wine is made not by a New Zealander but by Henri Bourgeois of Sancerre, or the village of Chavignol to be precise. This is a family firm that seems to me to be doing precisely what far more of France’s tens of thousands of wine producers should be doing: forging important links in the outside world, broadening their horizons while exchanging ideas, all the time making better and better wines back home.
Marlborough is a natural fit for Jean-Marie Bourgeois as the South Island region’s signature grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, just like back home. The Bourgeois family has bought 90 hectares of both flat and foothill land and are planning to plant it gradually at about five hectares a year (so the market is not exactly flooded with the wine yet). Clos Henri is the name chosen for the Marlborough adventure, and in fact I was more impressed by the Pinots, particularly this Clos Henri Pinot Noir 2003 from the debut vintage, than by the Sauvignon Blanc 2004 which at the moment seems rather awkwardly to be neither poisson nor kiwi.
Needless to say, all the clones planted for Pinot production are Burgundian, or ‘Dijon’ as they known outside France, which, with the close spacing, already distinguishes the vineyard from the Marlborough Pinot norm. The 2003 is sweet and spicy with good but not excessive acidity and more than a hint of a crisp, red-skinned apple about it (not a flavour I have ever found in a Pinot before, I think). This could be drunk with great pleasure any time over the next three years and is very bright and lively. The Clos Henri Pinot Noir 2004 is a more brooding wine that may mature into something more serious than the 2003 but the cask sample I tasted was a bit surly.
The 2003 is currently available in the UK via importers Cave de Pyrène and Ex Cellar of 775 Fulham Road, London SW6 (020 7736 2038) at £16.40 a bottle – not cheap but it does deliver. It’s much more obviously fruity than a red burgundy, far richer than a Sancerre but more charming and savoury than most Marlborough Pinots.
The Bourgeois have an excellent website at www.bourgeois-sancerre.com which is packed with information and photographs, including a good section on their international distributors, though be warned that by no means all of their many customers for their Sancerre have stock of this exciting new wine venture (see * below) which may, just may, encourage more French vignerons to play a part in the greater world of wine. Not all of them will have the means at their disposal of the large Bourgeois business, but surely the way forward is at the very least to establish relationships, if only the exchange of the odd spotty youth, with quality-conscious producers elsewhere in the world.
Here endeth this week’s sermon."