Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Jadis 2011
I decided against featuring a Vouvray this week, for fear of inducing Vouvray overload on Winedoctor. There are plenty of reports, updates and new profiles yet to come (if you have been under a rock for the last month, this is because I have just returned from three weeks in Vouvray, during which I tasted my way round every domaine of significance). And so today it is time to take a look at an interesting wine from another region on which I have been focusing some attention recently, with this wine from Sancerre.
You can’t be a fan of Sancerre and not have tasted the wines of Henri Bourgeois; even if you have since moved on to other domaines such as François Cotat or Gérard Boulay, or if you have discovered that the wines of Sébastien Riffault are more your thing, chances are somewhere along the way you encountered a bottle or two of Bourgeois. Maybe these wines were your introduction to Sancerre? It’s not implausible; with more than 70 hectares farmed by the family, and the same again exploited on a négociant basis, there are a lot of bottles out there. One wine you are perhaps unlikely to chance upon, however, is Jadis, one of the domaine’s top cuvées, sourced exclusively from vines on the slopes of Les Monts Damnés, which lies behind the village of Chavignol.
One Sancerre is pretty much like another, right? No, not so, as this wine demonstrates; the plots belonging to Henri Bourgeois on Les Monts Damnés are rich in old vines, and the keen-eyed walking through the vineyard at harvest-time may well notice something unusual about their fruit. A large percentage of the pieds planted here are in fact Sauvignon Rose, perhaps better known as Sauvignon Gris, although in the Loire Valley Fié Gris is perhaps a more commonly encountered synonym. This particular variety – which is in truth nothing more than a colour mutation of Sauvignon Blanc – is not officially permitted for inclusion in Sancerre, nevertheless everybody seems to turn a blind eye in this instance.
The Henri Bourgeois team pick the fruit by hand (there isn’t really any other way on Les Monts Damnés) pressed, allowed to settle, and the juice is then fermented in both stainless steel vats and oak barrels; the latter account for 60% of the wine, although all the barrels are old, aged between six and fourteen years. Jadis is bottled without filtration, the style rich, sometimes aromatic, broad and yet still tense, its Sancerre origins recognisable. The 2011 Jadis has, in the glass, a translucent hue, quite pale, with just a tinge of green to it. Aromatically it shows bright citrus-zest fruit on the nose, and a little floral edge as well, the overall effect quite suggestive of a light lime cream. There is substance suggested here, but also a little green and leafy edge to it, perhaps reflecting the character of the vintage. Other than that little floral edge, there isn’t a lot here that is very suggestive of the Sauvignon Gris I find; perhaps it needs a little more ripeness to demonstrate its trademark floral nuances? On the palate the wine feels appropriately tense, cool and pithy, and I can’t help feeling it is showing a little rawness to the fruit, which would seem to go hand-in-hand with that slightly leafy edge on the nose. A wine of punchy substance though, fresh acids too, and plenty of meaty character. 16/20 (4/8/14)