Domaine Didier Dagueneau is one of France’s great iconic estates. Everything that can be written about the estate and the man who founded it has already been put to paper so I’ll keep this tidy.
Since 1982 Domaine Dagueneau has produced singular, mind bendingly complex and age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc in Pouilly-Fumé. Didier always pushed the limits. As a young man he dabbled in professional motorbike racing and dog sledding. His fearlessness and sense of adventure were essential to the establishment of his estate.
From the beginning Didier experimented with organic viticulture, sans-soufre winemaking, own-rooted vineyards, natural fermentations and experimental barrels, sometimes pushing up to the edges of excess. But his voraciously curious and wide open mind allowed him to always see the benefits and drawbacks of these techniques.
The Dagueneaus have worked closely with the world’s top coopers to create some uniquely-shaped, very low-toast barrels such as long and slim cigar shapes and very small foudres. The different levels of wine to oak contact and oxygen exchange play a large role in creating these world class wines.
Biodynamic techniques are used in what are the Loire’s most meticulously maintained vineyards. Tended to like a Grand Cru site in Burgundy, the Domaine limits yields to 50-75% of their neighbors. The soils are worked by man and occasionally, horse. This encourages the roots to grow deeper and expose the underlying terroir.
Tragically, on September 17, 2008 Didier was killed when his ultra-light plane crashed near Cognac. He was only 52.
Didier was survived by his son and daughter. Louis Benjamin and Charlotte. Louis Benjamin took over the farming and winemaking and having only worked a few vintages with his father, it was quite evident that he’d inherited his father’s talents and perfectionism.
Some, including myself, believe that the wines have only improved, becoming even more focused and complex.