By: Eric Story | K&L Loire Valley Wine Buyer
Don’t let yourself be fooled. Ask any winemaker and he/she will tell you that the process of making white wine is by far one of the most difficult things a winemaker can do. To create white wines that are considered world class and some of the most prestigious wines to ever be bottled is quite a feat indeed.
This is what happens with Sauvignon Blanc at Domaine Didier Dagueneau in France's Loire Valley. Didier's son Benjamin took over for his father’s untimely death back in 2008. Since then he has not only filled the huge shoes that his father left behind, but has begun lacing up a bigger pair. This kid is frustratingly talented (I say that because he is younger than me) and is making legendary wines from the place where he was born, raised, respects and is proud to show off.
Here is a quick rundown of the different cuvées:
Produced from vines ranging in age from 15-50 years old planted high on the slopes of Saint Andelain (the highest village in the Pouilly-Fume appellation) and only from vineyard plots that have an extremely high content of silex. The vines are cropped to produce much lower yields than most. The juice is then barrel fermented and then aged in the famous Dagueneau cigar barrels. Since there is a much lower clay content in the soils, this wine is typically much more austere in its youth and needs a fair amount of time to come into itself. This is considered the Domain’s top wine and often referred to as their “Grand Cru”.
Produced from vines from a single plot located mid-slope on the southwest side of Saint Andelain. The soil here is a nearly perfect and harmonious mixture of clay and silex. It is barrel fermented and aged in mostly neutral 450 and 600 liter barrels. This site was formally known as Buisson Menard until a French journalist committed the mistake of calling is Buisson Renard and it has been known as such since.
This is made mostly from a south/southwest vineyard site called “La Folie” which is located just north of Saint Andelain. There is a very small percentage of silex here but the soils are deep and contain rich clay with some chalky limestone. The wines are then treated very much in the same way as the “Silex” cuvée. This is typically the most popular cuvée from the domaine.
This is the “entry level” cuvée – if there is such a thing. Produced from younger vine plots not actually on the hill of Saint Andelain. The entire purpose of this wine is to show off the pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the typical Pouilly Fumé terroir. Always a good showing of up front minerals and citrus with plenty of supporting weight coming through the finish.