Didier Dagueneau, one of the greatest Sauvignon Blanc producers in the world, has died in a flying accident at the age of 52.
Dubbed ‘one of the greatest winemakers of our generation’ by renowned consultant Denis Dubourdieu, Dagueneau was known worldwide as an outspoken and brilliant winemaker.
Unlike many winemakers in the Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre regions, Dagueneau did not start his career in wine and raced sidecars in his youth. He said it was only after ‘two falls in quick succession’ that he went into winemaking.
Even after settling on winemaking, he remained true to the pursuit of reckless sports, making a name for himself in the world of sled dog racing, in which he won the European and world championships.
He was killed yesterday, in a microlite accident in the Dordogne region of France. According to reports, the microlite stalled after take-off, plunging 50m before hitting the ground. One other person was seriously injured.
Constantly on the quest to make the greatest Sauvignon Blanc in the world, he produced several wines from vineyards scattered around his winery in St-Andelin, in Pouilly Fumé. Notable wines included Buisson-Renard (orginally the vineyard was called Buisson-Ménard, until a renowned French wine writer misread the label), Pur Sang, and Silex – perhaps his most famous wine.
Dagueneau also produced the exhorbitantly-priced Asteroïde cuvée from 18 lines of ungrafted vines. He also made wines from a vineyard in the steep Monts-Damnés region of Sancerre, and produced a sweet Jurancon with friend Guy Pautrat.
Known as the ‘wild man of the Loire’, Dagueneau was equally notorious for his outspoken opinions, frequently attacking winemakers in the region for their lax attitude towards winegrowing and winemaking practices.
He was equally critical of members of his family.
‘I had a few scores to settle with the family,’ he said. ‘So I decided to make wine, to make better wine than them. That was my first motivation. So I decided to make the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Not at all pretentious for someone who’s been making wine for two years.’
He us survived by his partner Suzanne, and four children.
Written by Oliver Styles