Oaked Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 Loire VS Bordeaux.

17 Novembre 2015

It seems widely accepted that the use of new oak, both as fermentation vessel and then for the élevage (so we are not talking old inert wood here, nor are we talking about oak 'treatments' such as staves or chips) began many decades ago. It is not a new phenomenon, even if a number of the most successful styles today have not been around that long. One of the pioneers was Etienne Henri Bourgeois, a scion of the Bourgeois dynasty in Sancerre and essentially the founder of the Henri Bourgeios domaine as we know it today. He began using new oak barrels for the fermentation, and although today oak plays a role in a number of their prestige cuvées this pioneering spirit is embodied mostly strongly within the Cuvée Etienne Henri. This wine is fermented in oak, including a healthy dollop of new oak, with a subsequent one-year élevage in same. The Bourgeois family's long interest in this material as a vessel for vinification and élevage was made apparent when I enquired of them which vintages I could show at this tasting; they offered a broad range, back as far as 1989.

Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc Cuvée Etienne Henri 2012: This wine has a smoky and rather flinty edge to the nose, quite open in character, with some tense, citrus-like elements, along with a very polished style of oak, gently honeyed. There follows a very soft style on the palate, very rich, with lots of substance but in a very generous, broad style. There is some grip underneath it, but it is well buried by the fruit which has a dried and slightly steely, peach-skin, plum-skin element of bitterness to it. Quite a full, grippy finish though. A very good wine, although it has a rather seductive and fleshy youth at present. This will, I suspect, looking at the grip and the structure, go for a decade with great ease. A very convincing wine. 17.5/20

Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc Cuvée Etienne Henri 2002: An impressive nose, smoky, matchsticky, fresh and bright. a golden hue with a hint of lime fruit to it. The palate follows on in the same vein, being rich in pithy, citrus fruits, a fresh and bright character, showing some real minerality, with beautiful substance. Beautiful, textured, rather a seductive style, with a weighty presence and clearly great potential for the future yet. Even at ten years, it feels like this wine is just getting started. A dramatic, imposing effort, with striking potential. 17.5/20


L'abus d'alcool est dangeureux pour la santé, à consommer avec modération
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