Domaine Ricard Touraine Blanc Pierre À Feu 2005
The Touraine appellation encompasses a much larger area that the more specific, and better
known to us, appellations in its center: Bourgeuil and Chinon for red wines based on the
Cabernet Franc grape, Vouvray and Montlouis for whites, dry, sweet or sparkling, based on
Chenin Blanc. French labeling laws allow “Touraine Blanc” to be produced from a number of
grapes, including the inescapable Chardonnay.
The Domaine Ricard Touraine Blanc Pierre À Feu 2005, like most of the whites in the eastern edge of Touraine along the left bank of the River Cher, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. When well made, these wines are generally considered to offer value alternatives to the Sauvignon Blanc juggernauts Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé produced some 40 miles to the east. At $12, this excellent entirely organic offering from Vincent Ricard competes nicely against its more expensive cousins, proving that you don't have to travel to New Zealand to get the best quality/price ratio out of the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
For starters, the lemon-colored wine has that authentic, flinty “cat's pee” minerality on the nose. The nose fruit is delicate and seductive: apricot, pear and peach, with a floral contribution that melds with and enhances the fruit.
On the palate, the cat wanders off to get into its own mischief, leaving some soft and yet tangy fruit: tangerine, grapefruit, lime, peach, and ripe apple. The stainless-steel fermented wine is entirely dry and quintessentially clean.
Fine, ripe, honest, direct fruit characterizes the wine's refreshing finish. The finish reveals a little white pepper that has been waiting in the wings to show itself. The final notes are citrus tang, but not the in-your-face citrus and tropical fruit jab you'd expect from Marlborough.
This Touraine is a civilized, entirely French Sauvignon Blanc that functions well for
stand-alone drinking, as an aperitif, or with many and varied foods (if you haven't finished the
wine already before you sit down to dine). The cure for this last dilemma, of course, is to
take advantage of the wine's value price by keeping a second bottle at hand.
Verdict: Excellent French Value
Young, dedicated winemakers seem to flock to the difficult business of wine.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman