Monday, January 25, 2010

Drinking Didier Dagueneau's Wines for the First Time

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I had the opportunity recently to drink two incredible wines made by the late Didier Dagueneau. I had never had a Dagueneau wine, and after just these two bottles, I understand what it is I missed.

You probably know that Didier Dagueneau died in September of 2008 when the plane he was piloting crashed. Although his children have taken over the estate, it is fair to say that unless I find and purchase back vintages, I have missed Didier Dagueneau's wines. By the way, one could say that in drinking the 2007's, I didn't really drink his wines. He made the wines, but he wasn't there for elevage and bottling..

I was pretty much blown away by the two wines I drank - I've never had finer Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere. And it's silly to say it that way because these wines, and from what I've read, Dagueneau's wines in general, are not about Sauvignon, but more about the specific plots where they are grown.

I have little context to offer you here. I cannot compare these to other vintages of Dagueneau, and I've had only a few Pouilly-Fumé wines, so this isn't about why these wines are so much better than the others. If you're interested in a bit of context, here is a decent place to start.

I want to share what it was to drink these two bottles because of their astonishing radiance and beauty. I was surprised at how great these were because of all of the hype surrounding this producer. Think of seeing the Mona Lisa in person - you know how beautiful it's supposed to be, but you've never seen it and it becomes more of an icon than a reality. And then you see it, and it surprises you with the power of its actual beauty. So I hear - I've never seen the Mona Lisa.

And by the way, I had no agenda whatsoever. I wasn't hoping to like Dagueneau's wines because the man is a deceased icon. In fact, it took me the course of an evening with them to understand how incredible they were, to the extent that one can understand a wine after drinking two bottles.

2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly Fumé Pur Sang, $90, Louis/Dressner Selections. the thing that killed me about this wine was how perfectly and completely clear it was. Unadorned, spare, elegant, graceful, this wine simply rests on the tongue and in the nostrils. It is an intense and weightless ray of stony citrus fruit with a quiet buzz of energy that lingers past the finish. A lovely wine on the surface, but this is one of those wines that rewards every iota of concentration that you give. It was growing still as I finished it.

2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex, $100, Louis/Dressner Selections. Clearly the same author, but a different kind of storytelling. This wine, for me, was defined by its unmistakable flintiness, that slightly smoky stony...flinty sense on the nose. Bigger in body than the Pur Sang, and whereas the Pur Sang was about its seamless balance, this wine showed off its complex and intense flavors of flint-infused ripe fruit and mineral water, but still delivered in a package that is all silky refinement, all class.

I loved both wines - they were beautiful in a way that makes you rethink what you know about Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. And I cannot say that I preferred one over the other because they are so different. I might prefer Pur Sang as an apertif, and I might prefer Silex with seafood. I might prefer Pur Sang with fresh goat cheese and Silex with harder aged goat cheese. And this is '07 I'm talking about. I only wish I could have tasted these wines in the past. Those old bottles are, sadly, out of my price range now.


Evan Dawson said...

What a wonderful post, beautifully written. It captures these wines so well. My first DD was the Pur Sang, and I tasted it in July of 2008. I remember feeling like I had finally discovered true Sauvignon Blanc, and as expensive as the wine was, I was going to follow the course of DD's career. And of course the plane crash came two months later, and he was gone.

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks for your kind words, Evan. I feel the same way - there's no reasonable way for me to explore these wines further. Maybe it's okay, though, to have more memories of than experiences with certain wines.

Mary said...

Just purchased a 2007 DD Pur Sang Blanc Fume De Pouilly. There is no foil over the cork. Does that seem "right"?

Anonymous said...

My son is asleep, and I took a few moments to search online for a wine that has stuck with me since I had it on the west coast in 2000. All I remembered was the name Didier and that it was from a small vintner in France, and I think there was a wolf on the label, or maybe in the name. Thank you for your artivle

Super Mario said...

To Anonymous: you may be thinking of Jardins de Babylone. It features not a wolf, but (I think) a Babylonian lion.

It is a wonderful wine. It has stuck with me for a long time too.

Anonymous said...

No worries on the bottle without foil.. Didier didn't use it.