France

Louis-Benjamin - Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex, 2016

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STORY BEHIND THIS WINE

Didier Dagueneau was a larger than life character, a fact accentuated by his wild hirsute appearance and forthright opinions, not least about the quality of his neighbours’ wine-making skills. Born into a wine-making family in the Loire Valley he initially opted for a career as a professional motorcycle sidecar racer. However, in 1982 he returned to his native hilltop village of St-Andelin in Pouilly Fumé, built his own winery and resolved, with typical modesty, to make the world’s greatest sauvignon blanc from plots of land surrounding the village. And, in the opinion of many, he was true to his word.

Within a short time Dagueneau's wines became the unchallenged qualitative leaders of Pouilly-Fumé - and they remain so to this day. He was competitive. ‘I want to be the best,’ he told Wine Spectator magazine in 1995. ‘If you want to be the best, you need the methods and techniques to get you there. Your vines must bear the best grapes; your vinification must be the most rigorous. There are no recipes. It's all the details of viticulture and all the details of winemaking, the assemblage of little things, which makes for the minute differences between a good wine and a great one.’

As part of that process he dramatically reduced yields and in 1993 he was among the first to transition to biodynamic principles. His notable wines included Pur Sang, and Silex - arguably his most celebrated wine which he first made in 1985. The grapes for the latter are grown on a small parcel of flinty stone. Hence the name: silex is French for flint. Vine age is 60-90 years old. Despite his fame he remained iconoclastic and a risk taker.

In 2008, his love of extreme sports - he was also a world champion at dog sled racing - caught up with him when he died in a microlite plane crash. He was aged 52. His son and daughter, Louis-Benjamin and Charlotte, who had been working with their father, took over and, remarkably, have continued to build on the winery’s reputation, albeit in a quieter fashion. Indeed, Louis-Benjamin’s name now appears on the label.'

 

OUR IMPRESSION

Bright golden yellow in the glass; on the nose grassy flinty mineral notes and, in the mouth, a smooth and creamy texture. A model of elegance and balance.

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