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Serge Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fumé “Les Pentes”Loire Valley, France 2019 (750mL)

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Serge Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fumé “Les Pentes” Loire Valley, France 2019 (750mL)

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Alcohol

This one’s always a head-scratcher for me: How can precision-crafted, single-site Pouilly-Fumé of such obvious pedigree still be so affordable? I’ve asked this same question about countless wines from neighboring Sancerre, too, and still haven’t received a satisfactory answer. All I can do is keep reminding everyone that whites like Serge Dagueneau’s “Les Pentes” cede nothing to their vastly more expensive, Chardonnay-based cousins down in Burgundy.


Maybe it’s because there is such a vast ocean of more tropical, simple, gooseberry-heavy Sauvignon Blanc out there that 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, save for a handful of properties across the river in Sancerre. So again, to put this wine in its proper context, we have to ignore the fact that it costs only $32 because we’re all so conditioned to think that cellar-worthy white wine must necessarily be expensive. Not today!



The Dagueneau name dates back to Léontine Dagueneau, who was born more than 130 years ago. Widowed and hard-working, she tended two hectares of vines on a vegetable/livestock farm where she also produced a cheese of local renown. She left her small estate to her two sons, Émile and Louis. It was Émile’s vision to shift towards viticulture alone, so that by 1950 he was looking after five hectares of vines. Following his untimely death in 1971, the growing domaine became the charge of his younger son, Serge Dagueneau. Serge’s older brother, Jean-Claude, had already struck out on his own (Didier Dagueneau, the visionary vigneron who tragically died in 2008, was Jean-Claude’s son). By the late 1980s, Serge expanded the estate holdings to 11 hectares, all in Les Berthiers, a small hamlet on the road to the nearby village of Saint-Andélain.  


Today, Valérie Dagueneau, Serge’s daughter, is the fourth generation to run the domaine, marking a return to its feminine roots. Now totaling 23 hectares, the vineyards are dedicated mostly to Sauvignon Blanc planted in the Pouilly-Fumé AOC, complemented by an overhauled cellar and winery finished in 2013. Since 2017, all farming has been fully certified HEV3 (High Environmental Value) organic, while biodynamic conversion in selected sites started in 2018. And while silex is more prominent in the Dagueneau sites in Les Berthiers, there is ultimately a mix of soil types reminiscent of what’s found across the river in Sancerre: Today’s 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—I’m more tempted to compare it to top-level white Burgundy rather than other Pouilly-Fumé/Sancerre wines!


Grapes for this ’19 were hand-harvested, with a small percentage macerated on their skins for eight to 12 hours. Fermentation was maintained at a steady, controlled temperature and, once completed, the wine remained on its fine lees for an additional four-month period. After, the wine was separated from the lees and allowed to stabilize for roughly 60 days prior to bottling. In the glass, it displays a pale gold core with greenish-tinged reflections. 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. A 30-minute decant at 45-50 degrees will allow the full aromatic eruption of this perfectly crafted Pouilly-Fumé while nicely toning down its initial shock of acidity. The 2019 vintage has engendered this fruit-rich “Les Pentes” with 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. Spring is here and things are looking up, so get outside with this mood-altering secret weapon and start cooking! Cheers! 




Serge Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fumé “Les Pentes” Loire Valley, France 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionPouilly-Fumé
  • SoilSilex w/ Clay & Limestone
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendSauvignon Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionLoire Valley
  • Sub-RegionPouilly-Fumé
  • SoilSilex w/ Clay & Limestone
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendSauvignon Blanc
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Temp.Serve at 45-50° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2025+
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingGrilled Swordfish w/ Grilled Mango Salsa