The remarkably diverse soils and conscientious work in the vines adapted to the needs of each parcel, tempered the effects of the vintage’s contrasting and at times excessive weather conditions. Over the course of the first six months of the season, rainfall set unprecedented records. This, combined with mild temperatures, offered little reprieve from the occasionally worrying disease pressure, which thankfully became less of a problem with the welcome return of dry, very sunny weather in summer. The first signs of veraison were slightly delayed, appearing mid-August, though progress was considerably slowed by pronounced water deficits, with practically no rain throughout July and August. Welcome rains mid-September triggered ripening in the reds to spectacular effect.

Each parcel was picked at a leisurely pace, waiting patiently until 14 October for the last Merlots to attain optimum ripeness, and 25 October for the Cabernet, which was unusually late, even for this late-ripening sector. The initial parcels harvested revealed remarkable quality, both in the wonderfully concentrated tannins and anthocyanins and the complex aromas.

Delayed by late, yet good botrytis development, the sweet grapes were hand-picked in just two tries 20 October and 3 November. The wines are very elegant and well-balanced, enhanced by the pristine citrus fruit aromas so typical of the Semillons here at Ricaud.

2016 is one to watch closely at Château de Ricaud; of superb quality for the red and sweet wines alike, and not dissimilar to the fantastic 1990.