2016 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 partially 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.
Tasting Notes: If Raveneau had made Sauvignon Blanc…
Le Regard / The Look
Superbly crystalline in the glass with vibrant citrin gemstone hues and golden hay. Highly defined legs of long arches on the glass expressing a wine of great weight and creaminess.
Le Nez / The Nose
The nose is pure and intoxicating, very high pitch; Mirabelle (yellow plums), white peach, Kaffir lime, chalky minerals, tropical white blossoms, and the ever-present marine oyster shells, seaweed and fleur de sel – Reminding Claude of the winter cold ocean spray in Brittany over the oyster beds.
Degustation / The Taste
The front palate is impressive and “droit” (linear/true); a complex creamy texture of tart white nectarine, Mirabelle plums, salted Normandy butter, waxy star fruit, oyster shell laced with prominent lime and grapefruit peel. The middle palate is of contrast and elongates the wine in the mouth; racy, nervy yet elegant and textural, with stone fruit pit, quince, wet hay, and grapefruit aromatics. The chalky minerality and salted sea brine takes hold in the mouth, seasoning and elevating the weight of the fruit, layered with buttery honeycombs and white alpine flowers. The long finish is razor-sharp, refreshing; glacier wet stones are accented with kaffir lime, grapefruit peel, lemon curd, and salinity creating a wine of great verve and elegance.
St Andelain remains a defining moment for Soliste: Elegant, full of verve, exotic, precise….Soliste!