The bright-sunlit green-gold Touraine “?” comes from a steep, south-facing parcel of sand and flint that was planted in 1947. In a generous vintage, the old Sauvignon Blanc vines yield just 25 hectoliters per hectare.
The wine ferments and matures for a total of eighteen months in a mix of 50% new, and 50% one and two-year-old barrels. The barrels contribute a lovely creamy texture to the wine, but nothing to distract from the aromas of Seckel pear, grapefruit oil, Canary melon, and elderflower in the nose, or the mineral-seasoned white nectarines, blood orange zest, and crystallized buckwheat honey on the palate.
This one is another towering achievement; not outsized, just perfect, which the French wine journal, La Revue du Vin de France, once included in a short list of the greatest white wines of France (along with a few Puligny-Montrachets, Meursaults, and a Condrieu).
About this wine producer: In 1998, Vincent Ricard took over Domaine Ricard, an estate in the Loire Valley that has been in his family for five generations. Previously, the family sent their grapes to the Oisly-Thésée Cave, a cooperative founded by Vincent’s grandfather. However, Vincent decided to withdraw from the cooperative, which irritated the local growers, who even petitioned the I.N.A.O. to deny him the status of Appellation Controlée. Even with this adversity, Vincent continued to estate bottle his harvest each year, and is now admired for his high-quality wines. Located on the “Côteaux du Cher," the estate’s 30 hectares (74 acres) of vineyards are planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc, with smaller parcels of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay. Vincent’s skilled viticultural and winemaking practices demonstrate the influence of his renowned mentor Didier Dagueneau, who he worked with in Pouilly-sur-Loire. In 2016, Domaine Ricard became certified organic and Vincent also incorporates elements of biodynamics in his vineyards.