Clos Henri: one of Marlborough’s most interesting producers revamps its range


Of all the wineries in Marlborough, one of the most interesting is Clos Henri, which is owned by the Bourgeois family in Sancerre. Damien Yvon (pictured above) has been the general manager for 18 years now, and he was in town showing off the new-look range of wines.

The Bourgeois family have been in Chavignon, Sancerre for 10 generations, since 1696. This famous village has just 120 people, and farming is rooted in its nature: it faces the famous Mont Damnes vineyard. Bourgeois are known for making a very pure expression of Sancerre, with wines that show precision, and they are strong believers in terroir.

In the late 1980s they thought it would be interesting to explore new areas for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, so they began prospecting other cool climates. Each year a family member would visit a different country, and this exploration process took 10 years until they found their current home in Marlborough. Arnaud Bourgeois says it was in a moment of craziness that they made their move.

The first trip to New Zealand was 1999 and they were struck by the warmth of the welcome, and they felt good about the country. Very quickly they identified interesting terroir: Marlborough ticked lots of boxes. They returned with a terroir specialist from the Sicavac company, dug a lot of holes, and six months later were proud owners of some unplanted land, past Renwick up the Wairau Valley on the western side, nestled up to a hillside.

The property in question, which is now Clos Henri, has an interesting diversity of soils. There’s a fault line running through it. ‘It’s an amazing playground for making terroir wines,’ says Damien. They now have 44 hectares of vines on a 110 hectare property, and they also have some sheep, some cows and a bit of forestry. It’s called a Clos, but this is in the New Zealand style, with an 8 wire fence surrounding it, not a wall. ‘We are entirely family owned,’ says Damien, ‘and never had any intention of buying grapes.’ They are organically certified, which puts them in a small group in Marlborough (just 3% of the vineyards there are farmed this way).

So why the change in the range, with new labels? ‘It’s not a mid-life crisis,’ says Damien, ‘although it could be considered this. Twenty years on, the labels weren’t helping to tell the story, and there was a need for a change.’ Petit Clos, the old name for the second label, referred to young vine wine, but now the young vines are getting a bit older, Petit doesn’t match. The new colourful labels tell the story of the estate, and its emphasis on organics and biodiversity. The Clos Henri label has been redeveloped as single block wines. ‘It’s a stylistic evolution rather than a dramatic change,’ says Damien.

The wines are bottled with DIAM corks sealed with a blob of wax on top. They look really good in their new labels.

For a more detailed account of Clos Henri based on a visit in May 2018, see this article


Clos Henri Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely aromatics here with lemongrass, pear and a hint of passionfruit. The palate is textural and expressive with a core of sweet citrus fruit, underpinned by hints of mint and chalk. Lovely well integrated crystalline acidity here. 93/100

Clos Henri Otira Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Marlborough, New Zealand
15% is fermented and aged in large format 600 litre barrels with thick staves. Powerful and intense with a lovely mineral edge to the white peach and pear fruit. Crystalline and mineral with lovely intensity, and a nice wet stone minerality. This is very terroir driven with great intensity. Juicy, fine and refined. 94/100

Clos Henri Estate Pinot Noir 2019 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely aromatics. Bright with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit and a nice stony minerality. Supple and fine with appealing redcurrant fruit and some spice on the finish. This shows great fruit and has a hint of liquorice, as well as some chalkiness on the finish. 93/100

Clos Henri Waimunga Pinot Noir 2020 Marlborough, New Zealand
Nice density to this wine which shows good structure under the black cherry and blackberry fruit, with the rich fruit characters surrounding a core of grainy, mineral detail. Finishes with some sour cherry. Very fine and textural; satisfying and expressive. 94/100

UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene