Domaine Didier Dagueneau, 2015 Update

The wild man of Pouilly-Fumé. The enfant terrible of the Loire. A maverick. An iconoclast. A legend, both in his own lifetime and posthumously. There was never any shortage of straplines and soundbites where Didier Dagueneau was concerned, and that is hardly surprising. This is the man who was perhaps happiest when he was thumbing his nose at authority. The man who, in response to a call for samples of Pouilly-Fumé from an international wine magazine, submitted a bottle of Limoux a friend had made – with a label invented just for the purpose – and was delighted when it won. What better way to highlight the idiocy of wine critics and their publications? And who, in response to the authorities questioning the eligibility of his wines for the Pouilly-Fumé appellation, decided to show them his opinion of their judgement by buying up the poorest parcels of vineyard in the appellation. The wine he subsequently made from all these dog-end plots was signed off by the same tasting committee that had questioned his Pouilly-Fumé, after which Didier paid visitors to his domaine €1 each if they would take a bottle of this wine away. No-one stuck his fingers up at authority as keenly as Didier.

Domaine Didier Dagueneau

Didier’s legacy can perhaps be considered a problem, because the man was so larger-than-life that it would be too easy for us to continue talking of the domaine as if he were still here, or only recently passed. But it is not so; Didier died in an accident that was just shy of seven years ago now. His son Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau (pictured above, when I visited the domaine in 2013) has taken over and, in the years that have passed, has proven himself several times over. He might not have the wild hair, and he doesn’t provide such easy stories for mainstream wine journalists to hang an article on, but his wines speak no less confidently than those of his late father. His techniques mirror Didier’s perfectly – low yields, vinification in a winery so scrupulously clean it would pass for an orthopaedic operating theatre, fermentation and élevage in oak including Didier’s famed cigaresno wonder the wines are as focused, vibrant and as needle-like in their definition as ever. We can wax lyrical about Didier, but it is Louis-Benjamin and his sister Charlotte that should be nudged into the spotlight now. They are responsible for the success of this domaine today. Of the wines I report on in this update six were made by Louis-Benjamin, eight if we include those he vinified within weeks of his father’s death. Only three hark back to Didier’s era, a trio of wines brought out to show how they age. Louis-Benjamin’s wines were on the whole delicious, indeed some were outstanding in their poise and precision. Just as Didier’s were.

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