Author’s note: With the retirement of Didier Richou (pictured below) in 2020, his younger brother Damien took over the domaine. Bringing in three associates, Christophe Aubineau, Luc Briand and Bénédicte Petit, the domaine has been renamed Terra Vita Vinum, with a completely restructured range of wines. I will update this profile as soon as I have had an opportunity to meet the new team and taste the new range of wines.
I sauntered in a few minutes late at La Brasserie de la Gare, in Angers, to find my first glass already poured and awaiting my arrival. It was a pale, confidently effervescent gem of a wine and, tasting it blind, I was clueless as to its identity. What was clear was that this was a very well made wine, the aromatics pure and clean, speaking of floral white fruit. If I had been in Champagne that would have led me down the blanc de blancs route, which would have been a wise move, but I cannot claim to have made such an admirably astute observation in this instance. It was surely a Crémant de Loire – it certainly had a broad, crémant feel to it – and that probably meant Chenin Blanc, I thought to myself, even though at the same time I couldn’t identify any aromas that really reminded me of the Loire’s thoroughbred variety.
Perhaps more important than this ‘guess the region/variety/domaine’ parlour game was the recognition that, tasted blind with no cues from the label, this was an exceptionally good wine, full of delicious pétillance, but also polished and ripe, with not a hint of anything angular, green or out of joint, and yet it was carried along by a fresh, mouth-watering seam of acidity. Before long the glass was empty, which does tend to hinder further intelligent analysis (not that I can claim anything I said in this matter was intelligent). After a few wild stabs in the dark the wine’s identity was revealed; it turned out to be the 2007 Domaine Richou Dom Nature, and then came the killer blow. It really was a blanc de blancs, being 90% Chardonnay and just 10% Chenin Blanc.
I learnt two things from this tasting. First, when tasting blind say absolutely everything that comes into your head, because eventually you might say something that at least has the appearance of being insightful. Just how smart would my blanc de blancs comment have appeared? Second, Domaine Richou was a name that clearly demanded further investigation. And so here we are.