I’ve been reading Raj Parr and Jordan Mackay’s Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste, which is a tome deserving of its own post. One of their great conceits is the idea of terroir as emergence. Terroir, they say, is a complex system that is constructed rather than revealed, and it cannot be understood by reducing it to its constituent parts. Moreover, they argue, one cannot “taste terroir” in the glass per se – rather one can experience the typicity of a site, vineyard, winemaker, vintage, etc. and use that to relate to the broader and more complex concept of terroir. This formulation of the concept is the most insightful I have read in many years. It also helps me understand and explain the greatness of Dagueneau’s wines.
Didier Dagueneau died in an accident over a decade ago. He was an iconoclast focused on extracting as much expression as possible from his vineyards, arguably elevating Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume to heights of expression and complexity not previously experienced. His son Benjamin now runs the winery and while I found the first couple of vintages good but not great, it appears now that he has dialed in the greatness of what he has inherited. Without learning about the vineyards and the winemaking process from his father, arguably Benjamin would not be making wines at this level. This is not an estate that can simply be purchased and expanded. It is not a place where big capital can come in and improve the wine-making. This is a purely idiosyncratic estate that, yet, is more than its winemaking. In my opinion these are among the great wines in the world, which you can understand especially clearly when pouring them aside other great examples of Sauvignon Blanc from around the world.
Myself, I compared this wine to Spottswoode’s 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (my favourite from Napa) and a 2014 Chateau Olivier Blanc from Bordeaux (a great estate and vintage). Both of these wines are also truly stellar, but they do not reach the level of greatness as this Dagueneau Buisson Renard from the regularly disappointing Pouilly-Fumé.
The expressiveness is explosive but also pure and unmanipulated. The acidity drives a potent structure for long ageing but the wine is incredible young. The chillin’ fox label is one of my favourite in wine. Why? Not sure, but it makes me feel pleasure.
One thing I can say with confidence: this is one of the great white wines of France.
$150 at Marquis Wine Cellars