Producer Profile: Didier Dagueneau – Must try Sauvignon Blancs

Didier Dagueneau rare and fine wines green man wines

Didier Dagueneau

Didier Dagueneau started his eponymous domaine in 1982 in the commune of Saint-Andelain in  Pouilly-Fumé , an appellation in the Loire Valley that makes dry white wines from Sauvignon
Blanc.

After a brief career racing motor cycles, he returned to the calling of wine in his home region. He quickly became the enfant terrible of Pouilly-Fumé by heavily and publicly criticizing the practices of his winemaking neighbours, at a time when the region was
associated with high yields and accusations of vintage blending.
Dagueneau’s approach led to the revitalized image of not just Pouilly-Fumé, but Sauvignon Blanc itself, and of Sancerre – the appellation immediately across the Loire River.

Dagueneau adopted biodynamics in 1993 (before it really took off elsewhere), tilled the land with horses, and severely reduced yields. Dagueneau also employed oak barrels to maximise lees contact. Dagueneau’s wines came to embrace the regional character of flint and they have a reputation for their ability to age. In 2000, Dagueneau bought vineyards in Sancerre in Monts Damnés, and then Jurancon in 2002.

Domaine Dagueneau offers a small selection of wines and is best known for four offerings
from Pouilly-Fumé. The entry-level Blanc Fumé De Pouilly is a blend from several vineyards,
while the Buisson-Renard, Pur Sang and Silex are single vineyard efforts. Dagueneau learned
how to make wines that were drinkable on release but also capable of ageing in bottle for
many years. Though seen as a wild radical, Dagueneau was conservative in the sense of
seeking to return to a time when serious, long-lived Sauvignons were made in the
appellation.

In 2008, Didier Dagueneau died in an ultralight plane crash leaving his son and daughter,
Louis-Benjamin and Charlotte, to run the winery. The 2008 and 2009 vintages were
considered stellar and a continuation of the Dagueneau style and quality. The bottles now
carry Louis-Benjamin’s name. Must try Sauvignon Blanc wines.

WINES

Dagueneau, Pur Sang, 2016 €100
A single parcel wine, and one of the first of its kind in the Loire Valley, “Pur Sang” was
acquired in 1988. Oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc, fermented with native yeast and then
spending 12 months on the lees in barrel, then a further 8 months in stainless steel. These
wines express purity and finesse, rather than varietal expression of the grape and sing of the
care put into making them. (1 worker per hectare of vines!)

Dagueneau, Les Monts Damnés, Sancerre, 2016 €130
From the sub-region of Chavignol, this is a highly elegant and mineral expression of
Sancerre. Acquired in 2000, with the first vintage only released in 2016, these vineyards are
worked with the same care as the estate holdings across the river in Pouilly Fumé. The
chalky terroir of this vineyard adds a stony minerality that brings precision and tension to
this wine.

Dagueneau, Silex 2015 €130
A selection of grapes from vines planted on Silex (Flint) soils in the commune of St
Andelain. The wine is fermented and aged in oak demi muids barrels, generally a quarter
new oak. This wine is Dagueneau’s Grand Cru. Designed for ageing, it will be quite closed and
austere in it’s youth, but will reward cellaring. Stunning.

94 points – “From almost 4 ha of flint-scattered clays around the mound of St Andelain, this is light gold in colour with a fine-meshed weave of green plant and soft spring leaf scents, full of copse coolness. In the mouth, it’s a seamless pool or well of those same green plant and leaf notes fleshed out with quiet green orchard and citrus fruits. As ever, a remarkably unshowy, undemonstrative, stealthy wine, despite its fame and the reputed showiness of the variety: all is held in check by those clinging, cossetting cool clays. Give it time in decanter, glass or mouth and you’ll see figures and allusions quietly stirring” – Andrew Jefford, Decanter.com

Dagueneau, Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2016 €80
Blanc Fumé de Pouilly comes from a variety of younger vines vineyards, not from a
named plot. Blanc Fumé is another name for Sauvignon Blanc in the region. It has
happened, although very rarely, that Dagueneau did not get the AOC approval for Pouilly
Fumé. His main reason to use Blanc Fumé de Pouilly is that it is a legal way to say the
AOC, while it puts a distance between his wines and the rest of the producers in the
AOC, whose wines, he felt, did not reflect the quality of his own label.
There is as usual nothing mundane about the “basic” Dagueneau cuvee, the estate’s Blanc
Fumé de Pouilly. This is the sole cuvée at its address to blend across two soil types – Marne
chalk and silex – as well as across several far-flung parcels.

 

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