Henri Bourgeois is, as Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book puts it, "a leading grower/merchant in Sancerre" and surrounding villages. Apparently, he is also the Loire Valley representative in WineRoute's catalog. They usually prefer to test the waters with one big producer who offers a wide range of products from its area (cf. Louis Jadot, William Fevre, d'Arenberg, Dr. Loosen), later following up with other medium-to-large sized producers, if and when they decide there is a viable market. Fair enough. In meantime, while I wait for developments (will the Shaked family repeat their Bourgogne invasion of two years back with other Loire producers? Probably not, methinks), I thought it was time for 2GrandCru to check out the new kid.
Sancerre, Les Baronnes, 2007
According to the winery's site, this is a tier or two above their entry-level, and, while not an earth mover, it is quite nice. But just that. The nose is a pleasant expression of lime, lemon peels and hints of flint and some apples in the background, while the palate is simple yet tasty and crisp with very good acidity. It's a bit too sweet and round in mid-palate at first but then winds up with a chalky finish in contrast, and anyway in time it loses some of the the fat in lieu of a green apple tang. Despite a certain blockiness, it has enough acidity and just enough balance to keep and maybe improve for two-three years, but, at 100 or so NIS, the QPR is only okay-minus, mostly because it lacked a certain inexpressible something that makes a wine more memorable than the sum of its parts. (Apr. 5, 2009)
Pouilly-Fume, La Demoiselle de Bourgeois, 2006
The aromatics here are more subtle yet more focused, harking from the same lime and lemon peels family, with saline nuances. The palate is really a step up, crispier and drier and, again, just more focused. The acidic backbone lends structure and complements the chalky finish, not allowing it to turn bitter. The QPR isn't an improvment over the Les Baronnes; it's a better wine but at 160 NIS, it's also more expensive.. (Apr. 12, 2009)
Sancerre, La Bourgeoise, 2006
A further step up. Once again, the same lime-and-lemon and saline notes, propelled by hints of flint. The palate is much longer, the acidity more refined yet more intense, the whole package carrying over with a distinct grapefruit personality. A very distinguished finish.
Is this a better buy? At 160 NIS, this is the only wine I'd buy from this trio. Yet, on the next shelf in the Tel Aviv branch, you can buy Zind-Humbrecht's "village" wines for 139 NIS, and while I probably shouldn't compare the Loire to Alsace, it's a sobering thought. (Apr. 18, 2009)