26 Sep Meet Vincent Ricard
We had forgotten how much young Vincent Ricard had irritated the local growers ten years earlier when he withdrew from the cooperative to bottle his own wine. Why the fuss? With Vincent’s startling, terrifically concentrated, mineral wines withheld for estate bottling in his own new winery, the local cooperative’s blend became little more than simple, anemic piquette. So the jealous locals tried everything they could to shut him down. They even petitioned the I.N.A.O. to deny him the status of Appellation Controlée. Their whine? Vincent Ricard’s wines are “atypical of the region.” Right. They’re too good.
Vincent Ricard now farms seventeen hectares planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc, with parcels of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay. The farming is organic, incorporating practices taken from the discipline of biodynamics, which Vincent encountered during his stages with Didier Dagueneau in Pouilly-sur-Loire, and François Chidaine in Montlouis. The entire harvest is bottled at the estate.
Vincent Ricard in his vines
Notes from the Travelogue
Kate always hated it when I stopped to ask for directions, but this was before we had Google Maps, and we were already late for an appointment at Domaine Ricard. Besides, the driver of the truck idling at the side of the road would surely know how to get there: his trailer was emblazoned with the logo of the “Confrérie des Vignerons de Oisly et Thésée,” the cooperative that had been founded by Vincent Ricard’s own grandfather.
But all I got was a sullen “je n’en ai jamais entendu parler” (“I never heard of it.”)
Wow. The guy was seriously unfriendly, and I was thrown off guard. But then I remembered how young Vincent Ricard had antagonized his neighbors ten years earlier, when he withdrew from the cooperative and began to estate-bottle his own wine.
It seems that without Vincent’s beautifully farmed and carefully selected grapes in the mix, the quality of the cooperative blends plummeted. So the jealous locals tried everything they could to shut him down. They even petitioned the authorities to deny his wines legal status, claiming they weren’t “typical” of the Touraine Appellation.
Which is correct. They were too good, and they made the cooperative’s wines look insipid and common.
Fast forward another ten years, and Vincent still delights in exasperating his neighbors – by working harder than they’re willing to work, and by making wines they have no hope of equaling; among them sommelier favorites at some of the greatest restaurants in France, including Patrick Bertron’s Michelin 3-star Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu.
If You Like Domaine Ricard . . .
We have suggestions for ways you can enjoy the wines that best represent the spirit of Domaine Ricard. Vincent’s neighbors began to appreciate his genius as he helped usher the village cooperative wine into one of the best white wine values this side of Sancerre.
You can check out our our Domaine Ricard wines; you can give the village co-operative wines a try by checking out Potine (scroll down); or you can see that the only real comparison is Sancerre.