Serge Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fumé “Les Pentes”
In the vast ocean of tropical, simple, gooseberry-heavy Sauvignon Blanc out there, we forget that Pouilly-Fumé is the grape’s motherland, where its assertive aromas and fruity, herbaceous nature is balanced by profound minerality. The unique allure of Pouilly-Fumé emanates from the silex (flint) soil, which imparts a delicate smoky (fumé) character to the wines. In the hands of a benchmark domaine like that of Serge Dagueneau, Sauvignon Blanc achieves levels of nobility that are simply not seen anywhere else in the world. Serge’s daughter, Valérie, is the fourth generation to run the domaine, marking a return to its feminine roots. Since 2017, all farming has been fully certified HEV3 (High Environmental Value) organic, while biodynamic conversion in selected sites started in 2018. The 2019 “Les Pentes” comes from a south-facing parcel of nearly 60-year-old vines planted in a combination of Kimmeridgian limestone, sandy clay, and silex, creating a Sauvignon Blanc that achieves a transcendent level of depth and dimension—we’re more tempted to compare it to top-level white Burgundy rather than other Pouilly-Fumé/Sancerre!
In the glass, a vast array of intertwined aromas rush forward, including elderflower, fresh kiwi, young mango, lychee, and dried apricot, with top notes of fennel, acacia, and smoky minerals. The palate is textured and full, carrying rich flavors of quince, spicy pear, honeydew, and lemon zest with an ever-present, hovering echo of salty smoke. The wine has an uncanny balance of full-body texture with a building mineral element against a vibrant backbone of acidity. Built and ready for both the cellar and tonight’s dinner table, this chameleonic beauty will shine with everything from ashed goat cheese to raw oysters to herb-stuffed, whole roasted fish