2012 Domaine Vincent Ricard Le Bouc Touraine Sauvignon
 
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Vincent Ricard A Day in Court

It was 1985. We were seated at Vacheron's cafe on the square in Sancerre. Alphonse Mellot was there, as were a handful of other winegrowers, when the guy in the leather jacket rode the Harley into town.

All you had to do was meet Didier Dagueneau once and you'd never forget him. He was at once charming, irreverent and playful. He had an uncanny knack for infusing energy into a lazy, Loire Valley afternoon, lighting up the square, while making everyone just a wee bit uncomfortable.

As we'd soon learn, Didier is somewhat of a mad scientist in the vines and cellar where he managed to nurse a new sort of apple/honey minerality off the steep hillsides above Saint-Andelain. The bottle that would soon take the wine world by storm was a Pouilly-Fume called "Silex" (or "flint"). We would be the among the first to taste the 1984 from barrel -- and the first to import it to America.

Within months, word of "Silex" had worked its way through the Michelin-star underground. Sommeliers and young winemakers retraced our footsteps, making a beeline to Saint-Andelain to taste with the inimitable Dagueneau. Among those who would make that trek -- to walk those hillsides, scooping up soil strewn with white chunks of flint -- was 22-year-old Vincent Ricard. It wouldn't be long before Ricard began rewriting Didier's script.

Vincent Ricard is far less irreverent than his mentor. His trip to the Michelin stars was slower and more arduous. Before Ricard took control of his family's estate, few had heard of the sleepy village of Thesee-La-Romaine -- much less the flint soil Sauvignon Blanc growing there. But, in his very first vintage, Ricard stunned the region, and in a new twist, managed to draw the ire of his neighbors for having done so.

For decades, the Sauvignon Blanc of Thesee had been simple and dilute, made by the local cooperative, drawn from overcropped vineyards. As the locals looked on in disbelief, Ricard took to the vines "comme un fou!", reshaping canopies by hand, dropping fruit twice to boost concentration, leaving clusters and potential profits on the ground. If the neighbors found Vincent's vineyard practices disconcerting, they'd find the youngster's first releases blasphemous.

Only in the provincial winemaking villages of France, where jealousy rules supreme, can a young winemaker be sued because his wines are "atypical" -- or "too good." Before Vincent Ricard could get labels on his new wines, the neighbors took him to court. But not one of them understood the affable resolve of their opponent.

This is the latest release from the brilliant Vincent Ricard off these silex-strewn Sauvignon Blanc hillsides, a stone's throw from Chenenceaux. In a growing season that truly separated the men from the boys, Ricard took to the vines early and often, dropping fruit aggressively. In a vintage where others brought in a bumper crop, off a 4 hectare parcel called "Le Bouc," Vincent would eke out one of his smallest harvests in the last dozen years. The golden, small berry clusters that made it to his fermenter were immaculate. Sugars were solid. Acids stinging.

The 2012 Vincent Ricard "Le Bouc" is brilliant golden-green to the rim, infused with piercing aromas of ripe apple and pear, tinged with quince and textbook anise. Rich, juicy and exotically flamboyant on the attack, packed with apple/pear minerality, the finish speaks of these flint soils, a winemaker's resolve and the brilliant winegrowing instinct of a guy on a Harley.



Tasting Notes

2012 Domaine Vincent Ricard Le Bouc Touraine Sauvignon
"Brilliant green/golden color. Piercing, pure aromas of ripe apple, pear, quince, a hint of anise. Rich and finely textured on the attack with beautifully balanced mineral opulence buffered by the kind of stinging vibrancy so typical of these flint hillsides. Aggressive crop thinning make for an unusually concentrated, marvelously mineral Sauvignon Blanc that stands tall amidst the class of Sancerre."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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