Domaine Didier Dagueneau, Saint Andelain


Country & RegionFrance, Loire Valley
Appellation(s)Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre
ProducerLouis Benjamin Dagueneau
FoundedDagueneau family has farmed in region for 4 generations. Didier Dagueneau bought his own vineyards in 1982. Louis Benjamin took over in 2008 when his father died in a light plane crash.

Didier Dagueneau was what the French call an “original”. In Dagueneau’s case, what was original about him was an intense competitiveness (he was the 1996 Husky racing champion of Europe). He used new oak, but not in order to apply a cosmetic veneer to a “prestige cuvée”. He used new oak because he wanted the aromatic development a wine gets from “breathing” through the wood as it ages.

Dagueneau was the zenith of wine makers, according to some. Tragically, he was killed in a light plane crash on September 17, 2008. He was not only a genius at winemaking, but he also listened to his terroir: nothing escaped him. Dagueneau’s aim was to show that Sauvignon blanc is one of the truly great white grape varieties, capable of producing wines that can match Chardonnay or Riesling for sheer quality and interest. He was fortunate enough to have a terroir as great as his ambition. He “only” had to add the methods, in the vineyard and in the cellar, that would allow him to realize the potential of that terroir. The impact of his bold wines is particularly dramatic because his vines are on the silex-rich slopes of St-Andelain where the domain has some of the choicest vineyard sites in this commune whose fame is rooted in its earth—95% clay-siliceous soil. It produces firm, very well-structured wines of great length and class whose aromas typify most the mineral, flinty, “smoky” character from which the Appellation, “Smoky Pouilly,” probably derives its name.

Vauzelle Terme

Didier’s son, Louis Benjamin Dagueneau, has taken over the winemaking at Dagueneau in a manner in which his father would be proud. He worked with his father for several years before his death and has brought the domain, already one of the premier ones in France, to new heights with his crystalline, multi-layered wines. “I really learned everything from Didier,” he says. “In essence, a wine must reflect its terroir and its vintage. No. 1: Wine is made in the vineyard. Everybody says that, but no one does it. You need to be rigorous and to have good sense. Second: Respect for nature. We converted to organic farming back in the 1990s. We tried everything in the vineyards and the cellar. We kept what we liked, and we ignored the rest.”

The scrupulously gentle handling of the harvest continues in the cellars at the domain. There is no pumping during the vinification process. The wine ages on the fine lees, unfined but lightly filtered, before bottling. The wine never undergoes the malolactic fermentation. The aim is to conserve the wine’s youthful fruit and not to impede the purest possible expression of terroir. The oak is beautifully balanced with the grape flavors and the mineral notes from the soil.

Please note that we represent Didier Dagueneau only in select states.

The Wines

Pur Sang
Sauvignon BlancFrom an assemblage of different parcels of 30-year-old vines, entirely from argile à silex soil of the butte. Vinifed and aged in new oak "cigar-shaped" barrels built to domaine's specifications. Age of vines makes the difference in quality and size and shows what a difference deep roots can make if yields are kept low.
SilexSauvignon Blanc

Assemblage of different parcels of 50-year-old vines, entirely from the butte and only from those parcels with high levels of silex. Vinifed and aged in new oak "cigar-shaped" barrels built to domaine's specifications. Rich and powerful with great age-worthiness. One of Dagueneau's top cuvées.
Blanc Fumé de Pouilly
Sauvignon BlancBlend from several vineyards of younger vines. Barrel-fermented and aged half in stainless steel and half in large, neutral barrels. Includes fruit from Pur Sang, Buisson Renard and Silex cuvées.
Buisson Renard

Sauvignon BlancFrom one parcel mid-slope on southwest side of Saint Andelain with vines Benjamin Dagueneau considers his very best. Soil is silex (clay and flint). Flinty, mineral-rich Pouilly.
Sancerre Le Mont Damné
Sauvignon BlancFrom 1.25 acre parcel across the river from Pouilly in the heart of the most prestigious vineyards in upper Loire Valley in Chavignol on the Mont Damné. Purchased in late 1990s. Vineyard is steep and full of clay and limestone. Vines are young, but great vineyard site bestows structure, incredible length and creamy texture.