Not far from Saint Aignan sur Cher in Touraine , on the other side of the Cher river, lies the Domaine Ricard . It is actually very close to Thésée . Its vineyards are on a southern exposition . Vincent Ricard began his activity in 1999 but he has generations of winemakers behind him : His grandfather was one of the 3 associates who created the Oisly-Thésée wine-coop . He now works on 14,5 hectares . Was working on 17 hectares not long ago but he views himself ideally with a 12-13 hectares vineyard . It is a surface that can be handled, quietly and seriously, as needed for the type of work in the vineyard he does : Earthing down under the rows, keeping grass and weeds between them, meticulous pruning . His serious work in the vineyard, at the harvest, and when maturing the wines, has brought him beautiful results that led to recognition worldwide . 65 % of his wine is for export ( U.S. : Petit Pois Corp ) .
Most of the vineyard is in Sauvignon, with small surfaces of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Cot ( Malbec )
Vincent Ricard opens the door of the cave-like cellar, wich goes deep under the hill . The chalk ( tuffeau ) of the walls gives this cool temperature, and the needed humidity as well .
__1 First we taste Petiot 2003, a Sauvignon . Smaller quantity for this year, due to the 2003 heat wave . 40-50 hectoliters/hectare ( 10 less than usual ) . In contrast, 2004 obliged to have debudding on the vines in spring to limit the number of grapes ( wich on a year following a heat wave year, would have been too many ) . Small part in casks for this wine we taste ( 1/5 of the wine ) . Sauvignon much more fleshy in 2003 . Bottle type is " feuille morte" , with the classical Loire valley shape and a light green colour . 4,8 Euro .
__2 "Les 3 Chenes" 2003 (Vieilles vignes) . Old vines . 80 years old Sauvignon vines . All aged in casks . Not for oak aromas, but for oxygenation . 1/4 in new casks, and the following 1/4s in 1 year, 2yrs, 3yrs old casks . Bigger frame and stronger freshness for this wine .Taken from a cask . Will be bottled in june . Still young, vincent says . Good wine . Bottle type here will be "antique", same Loire shape but darker green . 7,2 Euro .
__3 " ? " Chardonnay 2003 . Superb nose . Also superb in the mouth . 6 g residual sugar . 14,5° . "?" is the name of this cuvée . History of this cuvée is when meeting with a group of friends-winemakers in march-april as he does each year to exchange ideas and share a good meal, they all tasted from his casks . Of wich 2 casks of Chardonnay . One of the friends pointed to one of these casks and said : This is it ! Not knowing what name to choose for this unexpected cuvée, he wrote ? on the cask . And someone suggested this was the name . Very nice wine . 9 Euro . All the prices I indicate are usually the price for individual customers (tax included) at the Estate . Professional buyers' price for this one is 5,2 Euro .
__4 Another white : Petiot 2004 . From a vat . Will be diaphragm-filtered . 3 diaphragms ( 1,2 micron ) allowing to take off the yeast and thus stabilize the wine with very little SO2 . Exact name of this filtration in french is " filtration pauvre en germe" . The goal at Domaine Ricard is to look for wines that are silky and supple, and also go far in maturity , he says .
__5 The red : The only red of the Domaine . "Le Vilain Petit Rouge" 2003 . Sold out . Cot ( Malbec ) and Cabernet . [ there actually is a second red made here, a Gamay , but only rarely . Last time was 1999, and there will be some from 2004] . Red on the fruit . Semi-carbonic . Cabernet had malolactic fermentation in casks . 7,2 Euro ( 4,25 for professional buyers ) . Very silky . Nice wine . Very ripe . Some truffle , prune .
__6 Touraine Gamay " Clos de Vorioux " 2004 . Vincent Ricard climbs on a cask ( picture left ) to take a sample directly from a 50 hectoliter vat nested in the chalk walls . No sulphur adde yet . On malolactic lees . The wine is kept at 20°C . One heating pipe designed for a cask does the job . Fruit on the nose . Very silky ; this is the end of malolactic fermentation : Should be racked in the very next days . There will be 3 g/hectoliter sulphur at bottling . Makes 40/50 mg SO2 per liter, when upper limit is 180 in Touraine . Will be at the same price than the Petiot .
__7 Back to whites . " Cuvée Armand " 2003 . 2nd picking in Sauvignon . "petit moelleux" wine . 35 g residual sugar . 13,5° . Was at 16,5 ° potential at harvest . Nice at aperitif with bread toasts and "Selles sur Cher" goat cheese . 8,3 Euro ( 4,85 prof. buyers ) . Vanilla, aniseed aromas, he notes .
__8 Cuvée "L'effontée" 2002 . Sauvignon . Nose : Currants . Honey . Also beeswax, he adds . Nice golden colour . Wine made with over-ripeness grapes . Close to 110 g residual sugar . Does'nt feel too much like it, with a nice freshness in 2002 . The vineyard plot for this wine has only one ( late ) harvest . Harvested usually on november 11th . Close to one hectare . 19 Euro. He is the only one to do this type of Sauvignon wine in the region . Didier Dagueneau made this sort of wine with his " cuvée constellation" .Done the first time in 2000 . 14,2° . with the residual sugar, makes a well balanced wine . Tolerated in Touraine Appellation by INAO board if no sugar added . Wich is good for the quality : You know that when you buy a late harvest Touraine, you will have a wine with no sugar added . That is not the case in Anjou, where they are allowed to add 2 g sugar, same in Vouvray and Montlouis .
__9 Cuvée " L'Effrontée " 2004 . From a cask ( it will stay there till next september ) . This Sauvignon is still in fermentation process . Icredible ! This is "Bernache", this sort of new wine very close to sweet grape juice, but with alcohol well present . And this is in january ! Nice yellow colour , turbid . Great . See picture on right ( I was enjoying the drink and took the picture with little left in the glass ) .