When Dominique Dufour retired from a career in engineering he followed the example of his friend and neighbour in Rablay-sur-Layon, master vigneron Richard Leroy, whose Chenins have become the holy grail.
In 2014, Dominique took charge of ‘Les Aussigouins’, a vineyard that has belonged to his family for generations. He rented a small parcel to rising stars Mai and Kenji Hodgson and dedicated himself to tending the remaining 0.7ha (about half a football pitch) of the south-facing schist slope as if it were his garden.
Inspired by Leroy’s biodynamic farming and natural winemaking philosophy, Dominique harvests pristine fruit, which he crafts into pure, streamlined Chenin Blancs. Production is minuscule from such a small vineyard and a winery in the basement of his house – often just a couple of barrels in each vintage.
Aged in old oak, 2018 ‘Experto’ is a thrilling dry cuvée with notes of exotic fruit, chamomile, baking spices and an earthy minerality, its ripeness is balanced by pinpoint precision.
When vintage conditions permit, Dominique produces a barrel of wine called ‘Nectar d’Empyrée’, from grapes affected by noble rot. Vibrant and racy but lusciously sweet, its honeyed tropical character is complemented by smoky notes and a long, mouthwatering freshness.
Such is the scarcity of Dominique’s wines that calling them ‘under the radar’ doesn’t do them justice. His tiny roster of clients includes a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, friends and fans like renowned sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier MS, and now – thanks to regular visits and impassioned pleas – Shrine to the Vine!
Dufour ‘Les Aussigouins’ Experto Blanc 2018 (£59) Sold out
Ripe and juicy notes of pear, peach, and mango combine with white flowers and allspice. Intense and silky, with racy acidity and mouthwatering minerality. Bone dry. Drink to 2030+.
Dufour ‘Les Aussigouins’ Nectar d’Empyrée 2017 (£79) Sold out
Made from botrytised fruit, the heady perfume is full of tropical fruit, crystalised ginger, and smoky gunflint. Dense and luscious with a core of shimmering acidity. Very long. Drink to 2032.
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