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Posted: Wednesday, 06 December 2017 13:09

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Passing By : Jean-Marie Bourgeois of Henri Bourgeois of Loire Valley

Dec 06: Jean Marie Bourgeois, the 10th generation family producer and the patriarch of the Bourgeois family in Sancerre Region of the Loire Valley was in India recently when La Cave and Brindco hosted an excellent dinner at The Chambers at the Taj Mansingh Hotel where three Lore Valley whites and a Pinot Noir from their Marlborough winery were paired cleverly with the Indian cuisine from the Varq Restaurant, writes Subhash Arora who was particularly impressed with the Pinot from New Zealand and its excellent PQR for the Indian market

When you think Sauvignon Blanc globally which is the first country/region that comes to your mind? A vast majority would say Sancerre in Loire Valley; many would vote for even Pouilly Fumé (to be accurate, the village is Pouilly-Sur-Loire and Fumé is short for white Fumé, the local name for Sauvignon Blanc and hence Pouilly Fumé).

The two villages are in a way, two sides of the same coin-Sancerre/ Chavignol is on the left bank while ‘Pouilly Fume’ is on the right bank of River Loire. Of course, both have different terroir and yield wines with different character. In either case, the name of Henri Bourgeois comes right on top for both wines. It was a pleasure to have jean-Marie Bourgeois, the 10th generation owner producer at Hotel Taj where he could emote in his natural French language the beauty of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

‘We have been working for 10 generations making terror-driven white wines. Our family has devoted its passion and values to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to craft wines of unique expression. Each member of our family, Jean-Marie Bourgeois, Arnaud, Lionel & Jean-Christophe, brings his knowledge and expertise to our wine Estate’ , says Jean-Marie who belongs to the village of Chavignol, separated by  Sancerre through a hilly area and the Loire River from Pouilly-Fumé.

Jean Marie was also very proud of their Hotel Restaurant, La Côte des Monts Damnés), managed by his elder son. Located in the heart of the Sancerre region, only a couple of hours away from Paris it makes a nice sojourn where you will find peace and quiet and enjoy the traditional local cuisine..

Four wines were served with the dinner-Sancerre Les Baronnes 2015, Henri Bourgeois Pouilly Fumé 2015, Henri Bourgeois Muscadet de Serve & Maine Sur Lie 2015  And Clos Henri Bel Echo Pinot Noir 2015 from the family’s New Zealand venture in Marlborough, which was started in 2000 to exploit the terroir and using old world experience and new world techniques.  

Thanks to the Fumé Blanc popularised by the Late Robert Mondavi one gets a wrong impression that Pouilly Fume means the Sauvignon Blanc has been fermented or aged in wood. “Robert was a good friend of mine and he introduced Fume because he loved our wines from this area due its smokiness, concentration and fruitiness. However, we do not use wood at all-the complete process is stainless-steel dedicated. However, the terroir in Napa was not able to give that character in their wines and using oak gave him similar flavours and aromas and hence he named the wines Fume Blanc.

Following wines were served with the Menu from Varq-the celebrated Indian cuisine restaurant at the Taj Mahal Hotel:

Sancerre Les Baronnes 2015 was a light bodied wine with pleasant aromas of gooseberry and lime. It was subtle yet powerful, medium bodied, with full mouth-feel, and very crispy, fresh and fruity with a shade of citrus and green apples present in the flavour. One could also get hints of tropical fruits. It was an easy drinking wine and one could see guests asking for more even when the next wine was served.

Henri Bourgeois Pouilly Fumé 2015 was fuller bodied, slightly smoky (almost convincing you of having a touch of wood) wine with a persistent and lingering taste that makes it a great food wine.

Made from Melon de Bourgogne variety that has nothing to do with either melon or Burgundy (Henri Bourgeois Muscadet de Serve & Maine sur Lie 2015) was a bone-dry, highly acidic wine with sharp after taste even after storing on the lees (suspended dead yeast) and though known as a great match with sea-foods, it was lost between the two Sauvignon Blancs today and came out as fairly ordinary wine.  

Clos Henri Bel Echo Pinot Noir 2015 was truly a surprise package. Produced in their Marlborough winery Clos Henri, it was well balanced, elegant wine with floral, rose petal aromas, black cherry complex flavours and an excellent mouthfeel. It drank very well on its own but was an excellent match with the delicious New Zealand lamb. It is a sure winner and at the proposed MRP of around Rs. 2000, it would be highly recommended wine. No wonder, Jean Marie said in a lighter vein that it was very popular in Burgundy because the locals there could not find red Burgundy wine at such low prices.  

A great evening, thanks also to the excellent food preparation by the team of Chefs at the Varq. The Service of the Taj wait staff and the wine service were of the highest standards, leaving nothing to complain about. The seamless service was an important contributor to a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Hopefully some of the guests will visit Jean Marie and his family in the near future or connect with him through a couple of his wines..

Subhash Arora

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