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Wildman of the Loire, Didier Dagueneau RIP
September 17, 2008 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Wildman of the Loire, Didier Dagueneau RIP Didier Dagueneau, iconoclastic motorcycle driving beard-sporting winegrower of France's Loire valley, died today in a private plane crash. Dagueneau pushed winemaking in his region to a new level; his Silex (100 percent sauvignon blanc), farmed biodynamically on flinty soil, is a profound wine. I recently tasted the '99 Silex, one word: incroyable. A wine that redefines sauvignon blanc and makes you happy to be alive. Dagueneau also pushed younger colleagues like the cidermaker Eric Bordelet to pursue their craft at a higher level: the result is Bordelet's Granit pear cider, from 300 year old biodynamically farmed pear trees.
posted by Izzy (45 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, folks like this are what make the wine industry interesting. Fanboy shit like what's written in the FPP is what makes the wine industry a bore. Seriously, shut the fuck up and let the wine speak for itself.

That said RIP and godspeed Didier. You were a wildman and awesome, and I thank you for your attitude.

.
posted by Eekacat at 8:02 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wtf is biodynamically?
posted by Arbac at 8:23 PM on September 17, 2008


That's a perfectly cromulant word.
posted by Bonzai at 8:26 PM on September 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


bio·dy·nam·ic : of or relating to a system of farming that uses only organic materials for fertilizing and soil conditioning.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:35 PM on September 17, 2008


Biodynamics

Basically, it's organic farming, now with added kookiness!

For example: "Weeds are combated (besides the usual mechanical methods) by collecting seeds from the weeds and burning them above a wooden flame that was kindled by the weeds. The ashes from the seeds are then spread on the fields, then lightly spray with the clear urine of a sterile cow (the urine should be exposed to the full moon for six hours), this is intended to block the influence from the full moon on the particular weed and make it infertile."

Nothing wrong with it, and organic wines are often pretty good, but the extra "biodynamicness" isn't really helping anything.
posted by wildcrdj at 8:37 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, it's trademarked. In the US, to be a biodynamic wine you get certified by Demeter USA
posted by wildcrdj at 8:40 PM on September 17, 2008


A Sideways RIP.
posted by nickyskye at 8:54 PM on September 17, 2008


Biodynamic wine. Part of the idea of biodynamic winemaking is to reverse the effects of chemical pollution on the soil. I can't speak for the scientific justification but a very high proportion of biodynamic wines, often from grapes grown in less renowned regions, are exceptionally good.
posted by liam at 9:04 PM on September 17, 2008


when do the Guru, the Hogun, and the Chiropractor certify your wine as biodynamic?
posted by Megafly at 9:17 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


By asking these questions, we enter as do every day a few more physicist, thanks for example to magnetic resonance, into the discovery of laws that are very real and concrete, but are no longer, so to speak, terrestrial laws, ...

In the third edition of my book “Wine From Sky to Earth” now available in height languages, I devote an entire chapter to a presentation of tests, which are well-known in certain circles, that give images of this world of energies in the wine and the food, and the manner in which different types of agriculture can modify them. The microscope does not have access to these realities.
This is what I imagine the Timecube guy to be like if he chilled out a little and owned a vineyard.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:19 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shaun Mondavi: That's right. For nearly a tenth of a half of a century, Shaun Mondavi wine has been associated with quality.

Four years ago, when I told my Dad I wanted to own my own vineyard, he said, "First of all, don't call me Dad. You're 27 and this is the second time I've ever met you. Second, no you can't own a vineyard. You're a convicted felon and your Mother told me you have a learning disability."

Well guess what Dad? You were wrong...about some of that stuff.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on September 17, 2008


There's no such thing as "pear cider". Cider is made with apples. The equivalent drink made from pears is called "perry".
posted by mr. strange at 12:57 AM on September 18, 2008


This post tastes of Sauvignon bleu.
posted by slater at 1:03 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's no such thing as "pear cider". Cider is made with apples. The equivalent drink made from pears is called "perry".

"The world’s best selling pear cider, Kopparberg Pear Cider, like its Apple cousin, is allowed to naturally ferment to the desired strength of 4.5% ABV."
posted by three blind mice at 1:08 AM on September 18, 2008


The world’s best selling pear cider, Kopparberg Pear Cider, like its Apple cousin, is allowed to naturally ferment to the desired strength of 4.5% ABV.

That is the stupid swedish definition of what cider is. Anything fermented with more than 50 % apple or pear juice can be called cider. Anywhere else swedish cider would be defined as an alcopop because that's what it is. Sorry for the derail but the Kopparberg swill is just not cider.
posted by uandt at 2:12 AM on September 18, 2008


These hippie wines will still get me drunk though, yes?
posted by mandal at 2:30 AM on September 18, 2008


Doesn't biodynamics have something to do with Rudolf Steiner?
posted by CCBC at 2:45 AM on September 18, 2008


Yes it does.
posted by mandal at 3:00 AM on September 18, 2008


Sorry for the derail but the Kopparberg swill is just not cider. Anywhere else swedish cider would be defined as an alcopop because that's what it is. Sorry for the derail but the Kopparberg swill is just not cider.

I spend a lot of time in bars and have NEVER heard anyone, anywhere order an "alcopop".

That swill (we agree there) you say isn't "cider" is nonetheless called "cider" by a large number of drinkers whose opinion on the subject should be the last word.
posted by three blind mice at 4:28 AM on September 18, 2008


Man biodynamic sounded so smart... until I read an explanation of what it is.
posted by smackwich at 5:01 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


...the extra "biodynamicness" isn't really helping anything.

It does help build bonding in the work force, with all those moonlight activities.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:37 AM on September 18, 2008


A wine that redefines sauvignon blanc

Good plan. Sauvignon blancs in general tastes like fermented lemon juice. Give me a $20 bottle of NZ Pinot Gris anytime.

biodynamics

This is a silly word. Everything biological is dynamic.

"Weeds are combated. . . by collecting seeds from the weeds and burning them above a wooden flame that was kindled by the weeds. The ashes from the seeds are then spread. . .

with fresh lark's vomit, sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple-smooth full-cream treble milk chocolate envelope, and lovingly frosted with glucose.

Meanwhile: sorry about the plane crash.
posted by Herodios at 6:37 AM on September 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is on our minds at home, where my wife is a wine geek and I'm a private pilot. From what I've gathered, Dagueneau was flying an ultralight, it "stalled" after takeoff, and plunged from 50 meters. I'll be interested to see a proper analysis of the accident. No preflight/no fuel? Inattention to airspeed? Panic after power failure? Structural failure? All but the latter requires some sort of pilot error.
posted by maniabug at 6:46 AM on September 18, 2008


Could none of the poets of Pouilly-Fumé have thought of a more attractive name than "Silex?" That sounds like something made by Monsanto from reprocessed agricultural substances concerning which you don't really want to know any specifics (especially right before dinner.)


> That swill (we agree there) you say isn't "cider" is nonetheless called "cider" by a large
> number of drinkers...

Unhappily, that also applies to what a large number of drinkers are pleased to call "beer."

> whose opinion on the subject should be the last word.

Happily, one man plus the truth makes a majority.
posted by jfuller at 8:00 AM on September 18, 2008


Okay, cranky, not enough morning coffee, but....

I surprised at the total lack of empathy and understanding. Dagueneau was a leading producer who revolutionized wine making throughout the Loire valley and beyond. He made Pouilly-Fumé into something singular and alive. While his methods may seem odd, his results were always breath-taking.

I met him once, briefly, while he was touring through the US. He walked into our restaurant wearing his signature overalls, wild hair spilling everywhere. At some point, he found his way to the kitchen, pulled out his cellphone and handed it to our chef. On the other end was Jacques Puffeney of the Jura region, also an excellent winemaker. Our chef and Dagueneau passed the phone back and forth chattering in broken French and English.

As a winemaker, as well as a man, he will be missed.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


And that said, just because fine wines aren't one of your fetishes, maybe you should just not comment in this thread. I'm sure you can go find something to snark about elsewhere....
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:24 AM on September 18, 2008


Could none of the poets of Pouilly-Fumé have thought of a more attractive name than "Silex?" That sounds like something made by Monsanto. . .

AHD: Silex
1. Silica.
2. Finely ground tripoli (porous rock) used as an inert paint filler.
[Latin: hard stone, flint.]

Despite my distaste for sauv-blanc, I'm going to assume the name was chosen to evoke the previously cited flinty soil rather than paint filler.
posted by Herodios at 8:36 AM on September 18, 2008


Biodynamics does have some silly stuff in it. But all the ritualistic and superstitious processes have one major advantage. They require attention. Careful, hand attention. You can't just buy industrial grapes from some giant grower, you have to have careful, thoughtful people tend the vines by hand. Not efficient, but it just may help make better wine.
posted by Nelson at 8:57 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just a note: "Silex" sounds fairly ugly in English but, pronounced with a French accent, is far more soothing.

Thanks for the FPP, this guy seems like a real character. It's a shame to learn about him in his death.

.
posted by nonmerci at 9:14 AM on September 18, 2008


...just because fine wines aren't one of your fetishes...

No. Mucking around with cow piss and burnt weeds in the middle of the night isn't one of my fetishes. The more intensive tending that Nelson refers to may help, but that can be done without all the mumbo jumbo.
posted by mandal at 9:32 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Biodynamics for people too stupid to make it into the organic-level-stupidity bracket. It's essentially agricultural witchcraft.

Incidentally, organic farming uses some of the nastiest pesticides around. I sure as hell don't want wine made from grapes that have been doused in copper sulphate and lime. (Copper sulphate is charmingly referred to by agricultural scientists as a 'soil sterilant' because it kills everything and persists for a very long time. Lime is what Tyler Durden uses to inflict his chemical burns in Fight Club.)

I dread to think what biodynamic farming uses.
posted by SciencePunk at 9:43 AM on September 18, 2008


>>Lime is what Tyler Durden uses to inflict his chemical burns in Fight Club.)

Pretty sure that was lye.
posted by SaintCynr at 10:01 AM on September 18, 2008


Incidentally, organic farming uses some of the nastiest pesticides around. I sure as hell don't want wine made from grapes that have been doused in copper sulphate and lime.

Lime, made from chalk, has been used for centuries in agriculture and is harmless. Stop fearmongering. "SciencePunk" indeed.
posted by nasreddin at 10:26 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice post; if you ask me, this is how obitfilter should be done. Even if I didn't like wine, your writeup would have intrigued me enough to investigate.

I [am] surprised at the total lack of empathy and understanding

Are you kidding? This is MetaFilter, Home of the Automatic Snark. Plus, the topic of wine always brings out the chest-beating populists, and if you add in perfectly good words like Silex and biodynamically that some people who mock anything they aren't familiar with aren't familiar with, well, you're not going to get a consistently respectful thread. But fuck 'em, this is a good post.
posted by languagehat at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2008


Wow. Much ignorance in this thread. I didn't realize that Biodynamics constituted such a threat to some people's worldview.

Biodynamic farming practices are about stewardship of the land and the people who work the land. One winemaker I known (who is not certified biodynamic or organic, but uses utilizes some of the methods) commented 'well, my children live on this vineyard so I don't want to just toss chemicals around.' Another, based in Piedmont remarked that 'when I move about the vineyards, I find myself feeling happier.' I don't know if one hears such concerns and observations from large-scale factory farmers - or from the producers of two-buck-chuck.

While I agree that there is much mumbo-jumbo involved, the wines produced are almost always interesting and distinctive. While those qualities may no always translate as "good" or even "better than" I, and others, appreciate wines with character and a sense of place. Dagueneau's wines specifically delivered on both counts.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:26 AM on September 18, 2008


Ah, the typo is strong with me today.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2008


Dolomite lime, the lime that most people amend soil with, is a derivative of calcium magnesium carbonate or limestone. Many organic fertilizers and amendments include bat guano (bat shit), seabird guano, liquid seaweed, fish emulsions, blood, bone, crab, feather, leather meals, etc, etc. Dead, organic matter, or poop.

Organic pesticides are rarely the "nastiest" and if the organic farming is done right, fewer pesticides are needed because the plants are healthier, more able to naturally survive in their specific environs and not genetically modified.

So enough of your hatred for "organic-level-stupidity bracket" of organics since you obviously know nothing about it. Yes, biodynamics sounds nutty but there is a value in organic agriculture which is part of the common-sense-level bracket of farming and land use.
posted by premortem at 11:48 AM on September 18, 2008


My father was a vintner. I grew up surrounded by wine. I'm not really a populist, nor am I uninformed about the subject. You can not throw chemicals around, micromanage vines, and be wholesomely organic without subscribing to Biodynamics and until I taste the evidence that the biodynamic aspect is what makes the difference, I call hokum.

Now, off I go, because all this talk...
posted by mandal at 12:04 PM on September 18, 2008



Lime, made from chalk, has been used for centuries in agriculture and is harmless.


More or less correct, however lime can still give you a nasty burn and will blind you if it gets in your eyes.

Rotenone is no picnic either, but for the most part you're right. Organic pesticides and fertilizers are fairly innocuous.
posted by electroboy at 12:08 PM on September 18, 2008


nd if you add in perfectly good words like Silex and biodynamically that some people who mock anything they aren't familiar with aren't familiar with

I'm quite familiar with biodynamics, since I am interested in good wine and the topic has been covered extensively in wine literature.

And I mock it because I do know what it is, and it's silly. Like homeopathy. Besides, no one is above mocking.

Biodynamic wines can taste good, nothing they are doing is harmful. Just silly (at the very least, not supported by science).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:19 PM on September 18, 2008


So HEY, how about that guy who died. Interesting fellow...
posted by electroboy at 12:37 PM on September 18, 2008


Indeed, elctroboy...

Decanter on Dagueneau.

The Pour on Dagueneau.

The point of this event, is not biodynamics, but the passing of one of the great winemakers of our generation. You may or may not have heard of him, but if you've drank any white wine you owe yourself to drink his.

I'm actually pretty close to this. I only met him the once, but I've long admired his wines. In many ways Dageauneau has been a hero of mine, a celebrity to me. Much like many have been effected by the passing of David Foster Wallace on the the strength of his writing, I am saddened at Dagueneau's death on the strength of his wine.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:28 PM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lime is what Tyler Durden uses to inflict his chemical burns in Fight Club.)
Pretty sure that was lye.
posted by SaintCynr at 10:01 AM on September 18 [+] [!]
I admit, I was trolling, but it is a lye substitute, and to produce Bordeaux Mixture you need to mix proper lye with calcium chloride to make slaked lime, calcium hydroxide, which is not the same as chalk. Slaked lime is a skin toxicant (EPA scorecard), ingesting too much results in wonderful symptoms such as:
* Eyes, ears, nose, and throat = Loss of vision, Severe pain in the throat, Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
* Gastrointestinal = Blood in the stool, Burns in the esophagus (food pipe), Severe abdominal pain, Vomiting, Vomiting blood
* Heart and blood = Collapse, Low blood pressure that develops rapidly, Too much or too little acid in the blood (leads to organ damage),
* Lungs = Breathing difficulty (from breathing in substance), Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty),
* Skin = Burn, Holes (necrosis) in the skin or tissues underneath, Irritation
(via MedLinePlus)
Hardly innocuous.

In reply to:
Organic pesticides are rarely the "nastiest" and if the organic farming is done right, fewer pesticides are needed because the plants are healthier, more able to naturally survive in their specific environs and not genetically modified.
posted by nasreddin at 10:26 AM on September 18 [1 favorite +] [!]
Conventional farmers don't use organic pesticides because there are safer, more effective, more environmentally friendly alternatives. Organic refuses to use these simply because they are 'synthetic'. In fact, the organic industry has lobbied hard to stop Copper being banned as a pesticide (on the books since 2002 due to its high toxicity) on the basis that no suitable alternative exists. Suitable alternatives DO exist, but organic refuses to use them because they "aren't natural", whatever that means. Organic crops are not healthier, more organic is lost to disease than conventional farming, GM doesn't really come into it.

I could go on: organic uses higher energy input, organic has lower yields therefore more land has to be cleared for agriculture, organic milk production results more methane, organic hens have much higher environmental impact, organic production has higher risk of eutrophication of water supplies, organic food is no higher in nutrients, etc etc.

Anyway, I feel I'm derailing the thread. Feel free to email me for references, slagging matches.
posted by SciencePunk at 3:46 PM on September 18, 2008


Organic pesticides are rarely the "nastiest" and if the organic farming is done right, fewer pesticides are needed because the plants are healthier, more able to naturally survive in their specific environs and not genetically modified.
posted by nasreddin at 10:26 AM on September 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


Um, I didn't post this.
posted by nasreddin at 4:26 PM on September 18, 2008


Dammit, beer and Mefi don't mix!
posted by SciencePunk at 11:55 PM on September 18, 2008


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