Didier Dagueneau Help

Hey gang,

I recently tasted from a bottle of '08 Les Monts Damnes and was completely blown away by the tropical fruit notes and just how… hedonistic the wine was. I’m thinking about tracking down a bottle for an upcoming special occasion but wanted to get some insight on their other offerings. From what I’ve read, Pur Sang and Silex are the most popular, and I see there are a few other bottlings. Can anyone shed light on the differences between the selections and recent vintages? I know Didier passed in 2008 - have the wines changed much since his son took over?

Thanks for any help.

I know everyone says his wines have finite lives, but I had a 2006 Silex a couple of weeks ago that had so much acid it was nearly uncomfortable to drink. The smoke, the sea, the tropical fruits. It was so complex I don’t think I was able to understand everything that was happening in my mouth.

Gabriel - I don’t pretend to be an expert, but in my limited experience the house style has not shifted since his so took over. Both the Pur Sang and Silex are worth seeking out. The wines have become so expensive that they are hard to justify cost wise, but always very enjoyable.

I’d strongly encourage you to seek out the Buisson Renard as well. It’s a single vineyard that is a bit similar in style to the Dagueneau Monts Damnes. If you had the 2008…then it was made by Louis Benjamin Dagueneau…so anything you buy now will be similar. One word of caution with that specific bottling…it’s rare in the US. I think I’ve seen it only at 1-2 retail stores and it frequently will sell out. I have a bottle of the 2009 Dagueneau Montes Damnes that I’m still sitting on to get a bit more age. These wines do age…but every time I’ve had Didier’s wines side by side with Louis Benjamin…there’s a similarity for sure. It’s just that the Didier had so much more experience and that clearly shows in the wines.

The last vintage Didier made completely (or very close to it) on his own was 2007. The '07s are wonderful wines that are drinking great now. The style has remained the same, but it is clear to me that Louis-Benjamin doesn’t quite have the magic touch that Didier had. Maybe he will learn. The wines are still very good (with the exception of some 2009s where I’ve had problems with excessive VA), but not quite on the level that they used to be, in my opinion. I haven’t had the '08 Monts Damnes, so I can’t compare that specific wine to anything else.

Here are some general comparisons from my experience with a few vintages of each of these.

Silex tends to be the most lush, and concentrated, showing lots of tropical notes and also pronounced grapefruit. To me, it needs age for the fruit to calm down and allow the minerality to express itself more clearly.

Pur Sang also shows some tropical notes, but tends to be just a little more restrained, which actually makes it usually the more impressive wine to me (vs. Silex).

Blanc Fume de Pouilly is the most classic expression of Pouilly Fume, with restrained fruit and extremely concentrated minerality, expressing its overall quality with the depth and density of a great White Burgundy.

I haven’t had Buisson Renard or Monts Damnes enough times to generalize, except to say that the former might be somewhere between Pur Sang and Blanc Fume in style. All of these wines can be really excellent, even though many people view Silex as the “top” bottlings because it’s the most expensive.

Didier also made the Clos du Calvaire Pouilly Fume from a 1 acre triangular vineyard on the property of the church in his home town, St. Andelain. The last vintage Ive had was in 08 and Im not sure whether his son is still making it; if so, I have not found it in the US. The few bottles Ive had were outstanding and not to be confused with Silex or Pur Sang.

Interesting, I’ve never heard of that. Winesearcher doesn’t even seem to have a listing for it, but I do see that K&L sold some 2008 at some point. The only other wines I knew of were the two from Jurancon (the sweet wine is incredible) and the unicorn Asteroide.

The Clos du Calvaire was where Didier conducted his vine density experiments, with to 20,000 vines per hectare. Not long after taking over after Didier’s death in 2008 Louis-Benjamin pulled up the vines and left the land fallow for several years, before later replanting. I haven’t seen the resulting wine return to the portfolio yet; perhaps the fruit is blended with another cuvée at the moment, the vines being young, but I confess I haven’t thought to ask.

Somehow, that rings true for me as I vaguely remember the vineyard being re-planted. It`s amazing that the vines were pulled. The wines I had were amazingly good.

About a dozen or so years ago I did sales for a retail shop and we had maybe a dozen or so of these in our inventory. I’ll never forget the little ceramic(?) bottles…must’ve been .375 or .500ml, or the ridiculous price they commanded. Not a soul that walked into the shop knew what they were.

Anyway, it turns out that the only reason we had them is that another sales guy had convinced the owner to buy them in…and then that sales guy went about stealing and re-selling them for his own profit.

I think the very high planting density caused problems. Either they were too difficult to work, or the close planting increasd the disease pressure.