"To the south of Bordeaux, near Cadillac, Château de Ricaud offers a range of exceptionally diverse soils. Seduced by the tremendous quality potential of the vineyard and the property’s stunning architecture, Alain Thiénot purchased the Château in 1980. In 2007, he elected to work in partnership with the Dourthe teams and an ambitious redevelopment programme ensued, transforming Château de Ricaud into a benchmark in Loupiac and creating a Côtes de Bordeaux wine to rank among the finest of the appellation." Patrick Jestin~~ Find out more ~~ ~~ Buy this wine ~~
Surface area: 71 Ha
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Owned by the Thiénot family for amost four decades, Château de Ricaud is a magnificent neo-gothic property surrounded by parklands of 300-year old trees. The property dates back to the 15th century, when Gaston de Foix elevated “Ricault” in status, which at the time was owned by Chevalier Bernard Lamensans. The original Château was destroyed by the Dukes of Eperon in 1650, and rebuilt by François de Fleurier in 1674, only to take on its current form in 1865, when the architect Alphonse Blaquière redesigned the château in neo-gothic style, inspired by the work of Viollet-Le-Duc. During the period 1882 - 1910, William Wells planted a vineyard spanning almost 30 hectares, tended meticulously by his son Maurice in a bid to reveal its true worth. Already in 1897, Loupiac wines produced on the property won various awards in London, Brussels and Paris. After the death of Maurice Wells in 1954, the property slowly lost its way until it was acquired in 1980 by Alain Thiénot, who had fallen under the charm of a bottle of Château de Ricaud Loupiac 1929 in a top restaurant in Paris.
An exceptional terroir revealed
Set in the midst of a natural ampitheatre, Château de Ricaud vineyards stretch in a single block across some of the most magnificent slopes in the region, and enjoy natural drainage and perfect aspect. To realise the full potential of the terroir, an ambitious investment plan was launched in 2007. A highly detailed mapping of the soils and subsoils revealed complex, diverse terroirs unique to the Cadillac appellation and 50 distinctive vineyard plots were identified. 45 ha of vines were grubbed up and replanted with just 31 ha of varietals and rootstocks perfectly suited to the soils. In parallel, the high-potential parcels could then express their true worth, reflecting the truest varietal expression and producing a range of wines of the highest quality. To the north, at «Lieu dit Les Quints», the finest clay-limestone parcels are interspersed with a deep vein of clay, which provides a natural supply of water to the vines. Here the soils favour early-ripening and are particularly suited to Merlot, where it reveals great aromatic freshness. To the north-west and east extremities of the estate lie two gravel terraces deposited by the nearby Garonne river during severe floods at the end of the ice age. The most compact gravels cover the eastern slopes, and provide ideal conditions for Petit Verdot, which imparts intense colour and complexity to the wines. The finest gravels on the western slope are perfect for maturing Cabernet Sauvignon to perfection. Parcels of Semillon have been planted at the foot of the slopes, near the streams or forest to benefit from the constantly humid conditions conducive to the development of Botrytis Cinerea, which is essential to the production of Loupiac wines. Revealing the true potential of the terroir and supporting this quest for excellence is Dourthe’s driving force for Château de Ricaud.
Since 1995, the estate has been managed adering to the principles of integrated viticulture which helps maintain a state of perfect harmony between the vineyard and its environment. The more recent parcels have been planted at relatively high density for the appellation, 6,900 vines/ha, in order to favour quality and concentration of fruit over quantity. Work in the vineyard is meticulously tailored to the individual profile of each block, including ploughing, green fertiliser, pruning, budrubbing, shoot removal and two lots of leaf-plucking - once in June on the side the sun rises to protect the bunches from the intense heat, and once on the side the sun sets at the end of summer to aid the last stages of the ripening process. Finally, if necessary, any non-uniform grapes are removed during veraison.
Seeking the ultimate fruit expression
The red grapes are harvested selectively according to soil type and individual plot and at optimum ripeness. Widespread improvements to winery technology at Château de Ricaud ensure a total respect for fruit quality. With the introduction of a range of tanks of varying sizes and capacities and improved temperature control system, the grapes can now be vinified in separate batches to preserve the individual character of each parcel.
The Loupiac is harvested by hand in a series of sweeps through the vineyard to ensure that only fully botritised grapes are picked, which are then vinified and matured in barriques.