2011 St Andelain Sauvignon Blanc
A Tribute to Didier Dagueneau, The Master of St Andelain.
Who was Didier Dagueneau?
For the very few that had the privilege to spend time with Didier, he had a profound impact, instilling an uncompromised passion for vineyards and wine making. He single handedly revolutionized Sauvignon Blanc, bringing it to Grand Cru status as any great white Burgundy. Known for his wild mane of unkempt hair and bushy beard (le chien fou), he was an iconoclast among vignerons and sommeliers. Though he had no formal winemaking training, he was infatuated with great Burgundies and used methods uncommon to Pouilly-Fumé, including severe pruning for drastically low yields, hand-harvesting of fruit over several successive passes (tris) through the vineyards, vineyard designate bottling, skin contact, and barrel-fermentation.
Dagueneau's wines steadily became the unchallenged qualitative leaders of Pouilly-Fumé, including Pur Sang, Silex, Buissson Renard, and Asteroide. He stated, “I want to be the best. 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 in the details of viticulture and all the details of winemaking, the assemblage of little things, 100 details and commitments which makes for the minute differences between a good wine and a great one.”
He also created his own barrels, the most famous being a cigar shape barrel we have adopted at Soliste to craft St Andelain.
Dagueneau's personality was as powerful as his wines. He was incredibly competitive. After a youth spent racing motorcycles, he switched to dog sled racing later in life. His wild, sometimes confrontational style occasionally ruffled feathers among his fellow vignerons, as he tirelessly pushed for higher quality in the appellation. In one sign of how he typically tried to set himself apart from others, he began using the older name of the appellation — Blanc Fumé de Pouilly — on his labels. “I think Sauvignon is one of the most complex and subtle grapes,” he once said, “But it's very hard to extract that complexity.”
Didier will be missed. Fortunately his son Benjamin is now at the helm and his 2008 are one of the best vintages ever. Long live Didier. (Read more about Didier here)
Keeping The Dream Alive / A Tour de Force
St Andelain is our homage to the incomparable late Didier Dagueneau. Born from a single organic vineyard, the grapes were destemmed and allowed 36 hours of skin contact to create unique richness and depth. After pressing we barrel fermented and aged for 16 months in Didier’s creation, the Cigar Barrel. There is no malolactic fermentation to preserve acidity, verve and length.
St Andelain is a true expression of Soliste wines: Exceptional vineyards, meticulous grape selection, elegant balance of acidity and aromatics, to create wines of great complexity and finesse.
The nose is extremely bright with exotic aromas of stone fruits with a clear whiff of sea brine, oyster shell and flint, spiked with white pepper and chalk. The aromas are followed seamlessly from the nose by a fresh, nervy taste of tart nectarines, guava, apricot and melon giving the wine fantastic vivacity. The middle palette carries on with aromas of pears, white peaches, minerality, and flint, offering an incredibly high pitch, very tense, brisk and long in the mouth. The generous complexity of high tone citrus, grapefruit and kaffir lime peel and razor sharp mineral acidity creates a stunning long, very long soprano finish.