The early word out of the Loire Valley in the summer of 2008 was doom and gloom. Things started out ugly when a mid-summer hail storm ripped through the valley leaving shattered clusters in its wake. It didn't stop there. The constant rain at the end of August proved catastrophic for lesser producers who hadn't taken steps to thwart mildew. But to the very top winegrowers, guys like Vincent Ricard in Touraine, nature's caprice was taken in stride; they just doubled their time on their tractors, kept their vines clean, and waited it all out.
The recently-released Loire Valley 2008s represent the most surprising white wine vintage we've seen in 25 years of visits. In the best cellars like Vincent Ricard's in Thesee-La-Romaine, wines like this Le Petiot are spectacular: fresh, precise, and incredibly crisp.
We pried the story of the vintage out of Vincent Ricard, a Teddy Bear of a winemaker, whose wines are making their way onto the top wine lists from Tours to Paris. There's a quiet genius hiding behind Vincent's perpetual smile. The smile may appear relaxed, but it's in the small, darting eyes that you see the gears churning. When Vincent explained the miracle of 2008, the smile remained in place. But at every descriptive turn of the growing season, those eyes showed the ups and downs of what Vincent believes to be the best and most challenging vintage of his lifetime.
Ricard explained, "The maturity of the grapes was retarded through most of the summer. First the hail, then the cold and the rain. But that turned out to be a good thing, because when the weather turned around in the second week of September with sun and perfect blue skies, we could wait a full three weeks before harvesting. There wasn't much left, but what we brought in was incroyable."
Pale green color, this wine has a muscular nose of green apples, with a faint hint of honey. It's rich and incredibly solid on the palate, with tight layers of fruit.
Enjoy this wine as an aperitif, or pair with fresh goat cheese or poached scallops.