Henri Bourgeois meets Château Couhins-Lurton, 2022
Back in 2015 I teamed up with Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau of Yvon Mau to put on a tasting of Oaked Sauvignon Blanc, featuring the crème de la crème of both the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. I persuaded some of the most talented Ligérian growers to send an older vintage, and the list of vignerons who signed up read like a who’s who of Loire Valley talent; we had bottles from Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau, Vincent Pinard, Alphonse Mellot and Henri Bourgeois, alongside maybe half a dozen others. Jean-Christophe sourced the Bordeaux line-up, which featured wines from Domaine de Chevalier, Château d’ Yquem (the dry white, ‘Y’), Château Brown and Château Smith Haut Lafitte.
Although I had put a lot of time into organising the tasting, on the day I was grateful that Richard did all the meeting and greeting, as it gave me the chance to taste my way around all the wines. The take-home message was that the Loire Valley wines eclipsed their Bordeaux counterparts, showing greater vivacity and better acid drive. Indeed, I only encountered one dissenting voice on the day, and I had the feeling they had made that decision before tasting any wines; such is the power Bordeaux holds over some of us. I thought many of the Loire wines displayed greater cellaring potential, whereas one or two wines from Bordeaux – from comparable vintages – already seemed tired and lacking in focus. On the other hand, a handful of the wines from Bordeaux were top-notch, so it was clear both regions have a lot to offer Sauvignon fans, a long as you choose wisely.
I did not imagine, at the end of that tasting, that I would ever sit down to taste Bordeaux and Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc side-by-side again, nevertheless in early 2022 that is exactly what I did. It was a small tasting, featuring just six wines from two estates. These two properties were Château Couhins-Lurton, represented by Jacques Lurton, and Henri Bourgeois, represented by Arnaud Bourgeois. In this article I recount some of the discussion from the tasting, as well as reporting on the six wines.