Henri Bourgeois

Mai 2016

High up in the little sleepy village of Chavignol lies Domaine Henri Bourgeois. The winery looks modest from the outside, but go in and you’ll see a spotless wonder of modern cleanliness all so that the wines keep the highest possible level of quality and original character.

The Bourgeois family – now in the 11th generation of wine-growers – is possessed by quality and they continuously invest in both their vineyards and winery.

If you want to be picky we can disregard 8-9 of the generations before Henri Bourgeois himself. In the 1950s, he decided abandon the mixed farming his ancestors pursued out of necessity, and completely committed to growing and producing wine. It was a risky decision at the time, but Henri’s love for the vines was so strong he took the chance.

Henri sold his land on the plains and bought vineyards on hillsides, preferably on Mont Damné, the ”cursed” mountain, where the wines would become the most expressive. Both of his sons Rémi and Jean- Marie had a knack for vineyards with character, and today the family owns 72 ha over several locations – all of them planted with sauvignon blanc or pinot noir.
Henri’s passion for his land, his vineyards and the idea that every vineyard should be able to show its best side is something that has left its mark on the entire family.
The family built a new winery in the 1980s, and all of their wine was transported to the new site using gravity instead of pumps, and naturally where each vineyards fruits were allowed to ferment separately. The 72 ha represents no less than 120 locations in Sancerre and Pouily-Fumé, all with their own unique personality.
The family has always looked for vineyards best suited for sauvignon blanc or pinot noir. The geography and angles vary but the soil contains either kimmeridge limestone, like in Chablis, clay with limestone or flint, which all give the wines different characteristics.
Because the cornerstone of their aspiration in finding a perfect wine is that the soil has such an essential effect, the family isn’t afraid to put in the grueling work required to stop soil erosion. Even though Henri Bourgeois isn’t certified as ecological, they only use natural fertilizers and steadfastly refuse to use chemical insect repellants. The Bourgeois family strives to grow clean and adapted to meet each growing site’s special requirements. Henri Bourgeois is currently run by Arnaud, Jean-Christophe and Lionel Bourgeois, and they continue with the constant improvements to the wines by a rigorous vineyard selection process, choosing the grapes and harvesting at just the right time. This laborious work at every turn – always with focus on quality and original characteristics – has earned the family a good reputation across the globe for producing extraordinary wines that cost only a little more than the ordinary.

Our ambition is that every bottle that I opened, wherever in the world, reveals all of the feelings that went into creating it. The wine should also reflect a feeling of place, culture and community. Those are the things that drive us” say the three current owners. The family’s ambitions and cornerstone philosophy have even led to invest in Vineyards in New Zealand, where the offshoot Clos Henri produces famed wines from, naturally, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.

CHAVIGNOL IS ALMOST LIKE ANY OTHER LITTLE SLEEPY FRENCH VILLAGE. THERE ARE OVER 100 RESIDENTS HERE, LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF MONT DAMNÉ, ”THE CURSED MOUNTAIN.” QUITE A DRAMATIC NAME FOR SOMETHING NOT MUCH LARGER THAN A HILL, EVEN THOUGH IT STICKS UP FROM THE OTHERWISE FLAT, ROLLING LANDSCAPE.

 

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