Sublime Sancerre From Henri Bourgeois

Though lately we’ve been doing a class or special event here almost every week, each one is a little different.  Tastings of Burgundy or Barolo tend toward the serious and reverential.  Our One Sip At A Time classes tend to be a little more boisterous, with lots of question-and-answer time.

This past Thursday, we were treated to a wonderful lineup of wines from Loire Valley producer Henri Bourgeois that was just plain old fun.  These are Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs to drink and enjoy, not analyze.

We started the tasting by comparing our perennial staff and customer favorite, the Petit Bourgeois, with Henri Bourgeois’ New Zealand project, Petit Clos, while Laurent Noblet, the winery’s representative in the US, gave us some background on the terroir of the Loire Valley.  Though both are balanced, refreshing, Sauvignon Blancs priced for weeknight consumption, tasting them side by side showed just how aromatic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is, even when done in a more restrained manner, Henri Bourgeios’ house style.

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Then it was onto Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre.  Again, tasting them side by side really highlighted the differences between these very small regions that aren’t at all far apart.  The Pouilly-Fume was subtle and mineral, but the wine of the night for most was the Port du Caillou Sancerre.  Bright, clean, and packed with juicy citrus flavor and just the right hint of herbaceousness, it’s delicious and underpriced.

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As a special treat, Mr. Noblet brought a few bottles of a special bottling raised almost entirely in new oak, the Etienne Henri Sancerre, named for the patriarch of the estate who transitioned Henri Bourgeois from growers to real wine producers.  Never able to afford to age any of his wines in oak during his time as winemaker, the Etienne Henri is a tribute to him and his hard work.  A powerful Sancerre meant for lobster or a serious cream sauce, this deserved to be tasted and contemplated alone.

After that it was back to the fun stuff, as we compared two different expressions of Pinot Noir.  Though we think of Sancerre as white wine country, Pinot Noir is also made there.  The Sancerre rose was absolutely delicious, and as soon as that pink wine went into glasses, it was basically a party.  There’s just something about rose that makes it impossible to take life too seriously.  The Sancerre Rouge was a crunchy-fruited, wonderfully aromatic take on Pinot Noir and a great example of what a value Loire Valley reds can be – many have the elegance and restraint of Burgundy, but without the price tag!

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Thanks so Steve Schattman of Monsieur Touton and Laurent Noblet for a festive kickoff to our spring season of classes and events!

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