(Picture courtesy of Bertrand Celce - www.wineterroirs.com)
Didier was considered the wild man of the Loire for many years. An imposing figure at over six foot tall with a wild mane of red hair and thick bushy beard, he could be seen ploughing his biodynamically farmed fields with a horse and till. An outspoken critic of his fellow winemakers, he has gone from being the maverick of the region to the benchmark. His vineyards are kept to severely low yields, each harvest is done manually over several tries, producing less than 3 tons of fruit per hectare. In the winery he continues to push the boundaries of winemaking, using a blend of wild yeasts and cultivated yeasts, fermenting some of the wines in oak barriques that he has made to his own specifications, and eschewing malolactic fermentation even when the acidity seems inordinately high.
While his wines have sometimes drawn criticism, they are completely natural, with no recourse to chaptalisation that he cites is rampant in the region.
Anyway, Ive managed to get six bottles of his main cuvees. The first is the entry level wine - Blanc Fume de Pouilly which I believe used to be called "En Chailloux". The label is quite a funky musical number, which is a bit odd as Im not aware of a musical connection.
Ive not tried this one yet, so Im going to have to sell one before I can make any comments.
Next up is one of the two prestige cuvees, Pur Sang. The name means pure blood or thoroughbred and is a reference to the horse that Didier uses to plough his vineyards. (Didier is an ex motocross racer and he still races dogsleds in between making wine). Harvested from a single vineyard, the grapes undergo fermentation in oak barriques made to Didiers own specification (one and a half inches longer!). I'm not 100% sure, but I dont think this wine is aged in oak, unlike his tete de cuvee, Silex which is both fermented and aged in oak. Silex comes from old vines between 35 and 70 years old which are grown on a clay soil loaded with Silica (Silice in French). I've watched the price of this wine more than double in five years, and truthfully dont know if I can justify buying it, if (when) the price goes up again. Which is a shame, because it is shows just what Sauvignon is capable of. If every Pinot aspires to be Romanee Conti, then every Sauvignon aspires to be Silex.
There are a few more of his wines that I'd swap limbs to get hold of, but they are so limited in production that they go for obscene amounts of money. He has a Jurancon called "les Jardins de Babylone" which is about £50 for a half bottle, and there is an extremely limited wine called Asteroide, which has only been produced three or four times in the last ten years. It comes from a small plot (ten rows) of ungrafted vines that are very fragile and require constant supervision. I want some!!! Ive not been able to get a price for these as most of the suppliers have never heard of it. But I will get some!