France, Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, White wines

Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois 2009

Produced by: Domaine Henri Bourgeois
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Loire Valley, France

Before I started to write this review, I spent hours looking for a business card I got few years back, when I first met one of Henri Bourgeois’s sons.

Was it Jean-Marie or Arnauld? Unfortunately, I am not sure which one was there to present newest vintages of their wines from Sancerre as well as from New Zealand.

He came with his girlfriend (the same story, no name) – who was introduced to us as a winemaker for their New Zealand project.

But maybe the first names are not so important. What is more important fact to remember is that family Bourgeois wines, from the heart of Sancerre region were always highlights of our company’s French portfolio and I believe, top quality Sancerre wines from the region.

The Bourgeois family has been cultivating vines in the heart of the Sancerre region of France for 10 generations. This region, about 200 km to the south from Paris, is characterized by broken hills along the Loire River.

The main grape varietal here is Sauvignon Blanc (about 80% planted) and Pinot Noir for the red and rose wines.

Domain Bourgeois is located in the village of Chavignol known for its wine (vines here are grown on steep and well-exposed slopes) and also, perhaps even more, for its goat cheese “Crottin de Chavignol”.

Back in 1950, the family only owned two hectares of vineyards, but Henri and his sons increased to 65 hectares, 120 different vineyards, located on some best slopes of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Even an impressive 65 hectares, it provides about half of their needs. Domain Bourgeois has a long term relationship with some best  local growers and buys their fruit as well.

The family quickly became one of the most significant wine houses in Sancerre, operating both as a grower and as a négociant, As that wasn’t enough, the youngest generation of Bourgeois family wished to spread their wings even more. 11 years ago Henri’s son chose 109 hectares in Marlborough to continue his wine passion abroad. The first wine of Clos Henri in New Zealand was produced in 2003.

In Sancerre and Loire Valley the family produces many high quality Sauvignon Blancs from different block selections:

La Chantereine Cheverny Blanc
En Travertin Pouilly Fumé
Les Bonnes Bouches Sancerre Blanc
La Chapelle des Augustins Sancerre Blanc
Le MD de Bourgeois Sancerre Blanc
La Demoiselle de Bourgeois Pouilly Fumé
Jadis Sancerre Blanc
D’Antan Sancerre Blanc
Etienne Henri Sancerre Blanc

but also some Cabernet Franc wines in Loire – Le Petit Bourgeois Rouge, Saint-Nicholas de Bourgueil “Les Graviers” , Le Pigeonnier or Le Pigeonnier Vieilles Vignes.

Their Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon blanc comes from the slopes of Loire Valley known as “the Garden of France”. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks that are thermo-regulated, and then matured for months on its lees.

Tasting notes:
Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley to me taste little more delicate than the ones from New Zealand. It doesn’t have the strongly pronounced grapefruitty aroma and flavors up in your face.

Still, I get a beautiful aromatics of refreshing citrus, lemon grass, tropical fruits and green gooseberries, that reminds me of my parents garden.This wine is light, fresh and crisp, with a plenty of fruit characteristics and well balanced acidity. What else is good to know about this wine?

It’s very packet friendly (courtesy of missing the Sancerre appelation by a tiny bit). Just so you know other (exquisite) wines from Sancerre and/or Domaine Bourgeois are much closer to $ 20 -30 price range and over. Well worth it though!

Dry – Off dry- Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: about $ 12.00

Ideal food pairing:
Oysters, Shellfish,  Shrimp Criolli, Seafood salad, Angel Hair Pasta with Spicy Seafood, My Happy Tilapia.. and creamy goat cheese such as their local “Crottin de Chavignol”.

California, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, White wines

Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2008

Winemaker: Sarah Quider
Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Sonoma, California

Put together two devoted, second-generation Italian-Americans with a passion for hard work, wine and food – and you can expect miracles. An astonishing hospitality and wine career of Rhonda and Don Carano started back in 1973, when Don, still practicing law at successful Reno’s law firm, established Eldorado Hotel/Casino – 282 room property.

It was “supposedly” on the wrong side of the tracks”. Today’s Eldorado has 817 rooms, 10 award-winning restaurants, 80 thousands sq. ft. of casino space, huge showroom, specialty retail space and complete convention center. The couple today owns another hotels and resort properties in Nevada.

It was on their wine buying trip to California in 1979, seeking the best wines to compliment their restaurant’s menu, when Caranos felt in love with Sonoma. It reminded them so much of Italy, they immediately purchased 60 acres parcel in Alexander Valley. That’s how Ferrari-Carano winery started. Just like in their other business projects, they believe in ownership to be able to completely control the quality. Today they own 17 vineyards in Sonoma county, with total over 2,500 acres of land.

That’s just a little bit from their amazing history. With carefully selected team of winemakers under the supervision of Steve Domenichelli, vineyard director, they are devoted to produce the best possible wines every year. Not only loyal customers, collectors and wine drinkers, but also wine experts confirm that they consistently do.

I chose their Fume Blanc today, but I will definitely come back with reviews of their Chardonnays and great, highly rated reds that Ferrari-Carano produces.

2009 vintage of Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc is a blend of vineyard lots from various appellations of Sonoma — Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys. When grapes arrive at the winery, each lot is gently crushed, de-stemmed and pressed into stainless steel tanks for 48 hours of cold settling. The juice is either transferred to stainless steel tanks or older French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine in barrels is sur lie aged for 4 months. Individual lots are treated separately until blending to create the final Fumé Blanc blend.

Tasting notes:
Light golden color. I smell a lovely blend of fresh tropical fruits and lemon aromas. This is not your typical Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It’s much milder, maybe more sophisticated and elegant with the notes of mango, pineapple, lemon and light grapefruit. The combination of stainless steel and oak gives wine enough crispiness and freshness, with depth and complexity from the barrel aging lots.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak (partially)
Retail price: under $ 15.00

Ideal food pairing:
Seafood, shrimp scampi, with spicy cuisine such as Chinese, Indian, Thai or sushi