Clos Henri (and a little bit of Castillon in Marlborough!)

Clos Henri is the brainchild of legendary Sancerre producer Henri Bourgeois. He and his family searched the globe for the ‘perfect’ spot for his beloved Sauvignon Blanc variety, finally finding it in the year 2000 here in Marlborough!

They quickly planted 43-ha of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir on a single estate in the western reaches of the Wairau Valley, hugging the foothills of the Wither Hills. It’s French; very French (and I secretly loved it!)

Visits are by appointment only and even the locals don’t really know what’s going on here. However, I got a contact from my home town of Castillon from the world-renowned, stainless steel wine vat manufacturer, Monsieur LeJeune! Monsieur Lejeune made and designed personally our vats at Le Chai Au Quai and he did the same for Henri Bourgeois’ famous estate in Sancerre! I was given the phone number of Damien Yvon, an energetic Frenchman from Chinon in the Loire Valley.

The winery and cellar door is actually only five minutes from where I have been living, but as I have never once turned left from my drive in last five weeks I never knew it was there! It’s located just after the small hamlet of Renwick accessed by a long, winding dirt drive towards a white wooden church. I later learnt the church was bought from another town and transported down to Renwick because the vineyard back in Sancerre also has a church in the property; it’s quite beautiful.

Lores_1 Church

Damien is a lovely guy and has been here for seven years now. He (as much as I) was delighted to speak French, although his has a wonderful French accent when speaking English. But he does tack  mate on the end of every sentence.

Lores_2 DamienHe gave me a great tour of the property and they have been very busy over the last 13 years, carefully studying the terroir and planting to perfection.

Lores_3 Vineyards

From the highest vineyards, we drove back down to the winery below and I was greeted with many bonjours from the French harvest cellar hands! And then there they were: beautiful, gleaming, stainless steel tanks, designed and made in our little Castillon back in France, courtesy of Monsieur Lejeune!

In their search for perfection they believe the tools used to make the wine are as important as the vineyards. And as all tradesmen will speak of the tools of the trade, this is no different.

Lores_4 Vats

I have to be brutally honest and the wines (only two wines are made) are simply superb. Some of the finest I have tried anywhere in the world.

About Mark Hoddy

Mark Hoddy, Winemaker and Buyer for Alsace at Laithwaite's.