The Loire Valley is best known for its crisp white wines, the best of which are in the central and eastern portion of the valley. While Chenin Blanc is the dominant variety near the town of Tour and the winemaking villages of Vouvray and Montlouis, the Touraine appellation spreads west, encompassing the vineyards that lie adjacent to the famed chateau of Chenonceaux. Here, the white wines are made of Sauvignon Blanc, although very little of what's produced compares in quality to the better known Sauvignons of the Valley, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.
The reason for the poor quality is simple. Most growers produce almost twice the tonnage of top Sancerre holdings, selling their grapes for a pittance to the local cooperative.. But, when one young winemaker, the son of a man who had been selling his grapes to the local cooperative, began implementing the most rigorous vineyard practices, reducing yields by more than 50%, eyebrows were raised. And when Vincent Ricard released his first, wonderfully concentrated Sauvignon Blanc and a terrific Malbec-based red wine, the neighbors went from restless to belligerent.
Why were they so upset? Ricard's wine was too concentrated, they complained, not in keeping with the style of the appellation. At age 23, Vincent Ricard faced a lawsuit from the cooperative. Essentially, they argued, he was making them look bad by making wines that were 'too good.'
Vincent is only 29 years old, but his fabulous Sauvignons have taken Paris by storm, causing sommeliers in the top restaurants and brasseries to add his wines to their Loire Valley selections, previously dominated by Sancerre. Ricard projects an endearing Teddy Bear personality, but behind the always pleasant exterior resides one of France's most ingenious young minds. Combine Ricard's ingenuity with the 2006 vintage -- one of the best in memory for Sauvignon in the Loire Valley -- and you have discovered a recipe for some wonderfully mineral, fruity white wines.
This wine, Trois Chenes 2006, is one of Vincent's finest releases to date. Made from low yielding, old vine holdings, Trois Chenes has the tremendous natural concentration we've found in many of the best 2006s from Sancerre. Extremely rich, full of ripe honey-apple flavors, a hint of residual sugar to balance the wine's crisp acidity. Drink Trois Chenes 2006 over the next 4 years with goat cheese, roasted game, grilled salmon and other seafood dishes.