‘I’ve always been a huge fan of Clos Rougeard and Gauby's Roussillon blancs - in both cases even more than their rouge - and the same is the case here. That's saying a lot, as I absolutely loved the Porte Saint Jean rouge! There is an enormous amount of tension and dimension and lots of high quality reduction that brings to mind the highest quality whites of Burgundy. It’s incredibly expressive with lots of clean, pure fruit. I absolutely think this is at least at the level of Rougeard’s Brézé. If you’re a smart buyer, you’re just grabbing this.’ -Daniel
Sylvain Dittière is a star. None of this ‘rising’ nonsense: it is us that are late to the catch. His star has already risen and shines brightly from his home base of Montreuil-Bellay just south of AOC Saumur. That you perhaps haven't yet heard about these is a matter of tiny production and crazy demand rather than exceptional quality being a 'new thing.' And, relative to any reasonable expectations, his 2019 Saumur blanc 'Les Pouches' is the single most exciting white we’ve tasted so far this year - by a wide margin.
‘Les Pouches’ is the top Chenin [read: top wine] in Dittière’s cellar. It’s produced from a small parcel comprised of a thin layer of silt and clay over a base of pure limestone on a little hillside in Saumur where vines have been planted since the Middle Ages. Dittière’s first vintage working with the vineyard was 2017 and he learned quickly to follow the site's natural inclinations toward an elemental, ultra-mineral style of Chenin.
For his whites, Dittière practices long élévage on the lees with no sulphur and very little racking. 'Les Pouches' is aged in used barrels from Haut Brion and Clos Rougeard complemented with a couple new ones from Burgundy. The cellar is very cold and allows for long lees aging with no racking, resulting in a specific quality of reduction that is extremely intense but also more deeply integrated than most. This deep quality of reduction reminds me of the exceptionally distinctive reduction one sees at Domaine Gauby, and is of the rare variety that actually intensifies in the glass rather than the superficial sort that tends to ‘blow off.’
The nose leads with thick tangerine-y reduction which surrounds a verdant core of verbena and peel as well as a vivid limestone-y minerality. Everything is clear and definite, and the wine is as delicious as it is impressive.
These wines have 'next big thing' scrawled all over them, so do your future self a favor and snag a few before all the cool kids are drinking them.