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Domaine Ricard Le Vinsans Ricard 2016

Domaine Ricard Le Vinsans Ricard 2016

Back in February I pledged to write more about the Loire Valley’s brilliant array of sparkling wines, having recognised that while I drink a lot of them, few of them ever made it through to my Weekend Wine slot. Since then my sparkling drinking preferences have been laid bare, as there is an obvious theme running through previously featured wines, which included the 2014 François Pinon Vouvray Brut, 2014 Vincent Carême Vouvray L’Ancestrale and 2007 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut Réserve. So I thought this week I should get out of my Vouvray comfort zone for something a little different. Well, maybe a lot different.

Regular readers (I know there are at least one or two, provided I am allowed to include blood relatives) may recognise this label, as it is a curiosity that I featured a couple of years ago, but in the 2014 vintage. It is made using the méthode ancestrale, the fermentation kicking off in three-year old used oak barrels, before the part-fermented juice is then transferred to bottle without the addition of any sugar or yeast. The fermentation completes in bottle, giving the wine its pétillance. So far, so unexceptional. The difference here is the variety; Vincent Ricard is based in Thésée, on the opposite bank of the Cher to Noëlla Morantin, the old Clos Roche Blanche domaine, Les Maisons Brûlées and Clos Roussely, and naturally Vincent makes use of what he has around him. And here, in the Touraine-Cher naturalista heartland, this means Sauvignon Blanc.

Domaine Ricard Le Vinsans Ricard 2016

I first visited Vincent Ricard back in 2013, right in the middle of harvest. A young vigneron, he is the fifth generation of his family to take on the running of the domaine. As he was busy with the process of picking, sorting, pressing and so on, I was not able to taste any wines on that visit (save for a little deliciously sweet Sauvignon Blanc juice, straight from the press). Nor did I expect to, I should add; harvest visits are about understanding the work involved in making wine, and understanding the vintage, and I never ask to taste at this time of year as I know how busy vignerons are, especially those running small family domaines almost single-handed. Sadly I have struggled to catch up with Vincent since, and so have not profiled him on Winedoctor, but this certainly does not reflect a lack of interest in his wines which I have followed ever since.

Vincent studied at Amboise but spent much of his early years working with Philippe Alliet and then Charles Levasseur, a less immediately familiar name but a well known domaine in Montlouis and an uncle to François Chidaine. He came back to the family domaine as early as 1999, and he now tends 30 hectares of vines in the Touraine and Touraine Chenonceaux appellations. As with some of his peers and neighbours, Vincent has moved towards organic viticulture in recent years, and the domaine was certified as such in 2016. The 2016 Le Vinsans Ricard has a straw-coloured hue in the glass, and a very fine bead. As was also the case with my encounter with the 2014 vintage, the aromatics are ripe and perfumed, and do not fit with the traditional view of Sauvignon Blanc. There are scents of peach, lychee, tangerine, chalk and rose petals to the fore, while in the background there are threads of tropical fruits, like mango or guava, which are perhaps more typical of the variety when very ripe. The palate is delightful, soft and supple, fresh and perfumed, carrying flavours of rosehip tea, tangerine and lemon zest, with a contradictory plushness of texture but a chalky backbone, backed up by some very nicely judged acidity. Overall this is bright, broad and characterful, and it shows a long and energetic finish. It is another great sparkling success story from the Loire Valley. 92/100 (20/8/18)

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