Château Richard - NY
CHÂTEAU RICHARD, MONESTIER (SOUTHWEST)
Facts and wines
Facts: 12 ha. Grapes: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc Founded: 1988 Responsible: Richard Doughty Cultivation methods: organic (certified organic in 1991) Profile: Small winery producing honest wines in the Bergerac area as well as excellent sweet wines in the micro-appellation Saussignac. Style: (for the sweet wines) The wines strongly resemble wines from Sauternes. The cheapest correspond to a good Sauternes and the most expensive can be compared to some of the best from there. However, the price of Château Richard's wines is only a fraction of what equivalent quality from Sauternes costs.Buy their wines here Sweet wine White wine Sweet wine
- Cuvée Tradition 2013 60% Sémillon 30% Muscadelle 10% Sauvignon
- Grand C. de Coeur 2009 50% Sémillon 35% Muscadelle 15% Sauvignon
Moelleux 2010 90% Sauvignon Blanc 10% Muscadelle
An Englishman in Saussignac…
The owner of Château Richard is Richard Doughty. As the name indicates, he was born and raised in England, however, with a French mother. Born in 1995, Richard has lived in France since 1986, but his understated English accent betrays his origins.
Richard became a wine farmer in 1988 after taking an education at the famous Château La Tour Blanche, which, in addition to being a Premier Cru Classé wine castle in Sauternes, also functions as a technical school in wine production. It was a parachute accident which caused the Englishman to change his professional path. Before that he worked in many places in the world, as a geologist in the oil industry and with a summer house in the Dordogne (southwest France) as a permanent base. And it was here that the first contact with vineyards and the curiosity about the profession was created.
After his wine education, Richard Doughty bought a small domain planted with old vines, some of which date from 1932. The fields are located in Monestier under the appellation en [: French wine region = origin of the wine, which is also its protected name ex. Alsace, Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru "Le Musigny" etc. :] Bergerac and a smaller share (3.5 ha.) belongs to the Saussignac appellation.
Rare sweet wines
Saussignac is a small village located in the Bergerac district, approx. 20 km. southwest of Bergerac town and 100 km. east of Bordeaux. The entire Saussignac wine area consists of only 20 ha., which is cultivated by just 15 producers. And their total production is a paltry 30,000 (small) bottles per year. By comparison, the Sauternes' many castles are over 30 ha. and several are over 90 ha. The area is particularly suitable for the production of late-harvest white wines, where the fungus botrytis cinerea ("the noble rot") plays a decisive role in relation to the sugar concentration and taste.
With its 3.5 ha. Saussignac produces a limited number of bottles of Château Richard, varying between 3,000 and 10,000 per year depending on the conditions of the vintage. The number is typically distributed over several Cuvées (= several wines) according to their sugar content. You can therefore safely call Château Richard's wines rarities.
Work in the fields
The fields are cultivated organically. Richard Dougthy's philosophy is to respect and support the natural equilibrium, strengthen the immune system of the vines and create space for the pests' predators rather than using chemicals. According to him, this corresponds to his ethical beliefs and ultimately produces better grapes.
Richard is also strongly committed to the promotion and regulation of organic wine production, as chairman of the industry association France Vin Bio.
For Saussignac wines, the same methods apply as for wines from Sauternes and other French liquoreux wines. The grapes are harvested when overripe, after they have been affected by the noble rot. The harvest takes place in several rounds called "Les Tris" (=sorting). The field workers only pick the grapes that are "botrytized" (= affected by the botrytis fungus) and come back after a few days to harvest new grapes. This can of course only be done manually.
Work in the basement
The sweet grapes are gently pressed and the must is poured into oak barrels, where it undergoes a slow fermentation of around 12 months. The wine then ages between 1 and 3 years in casks as needed.
In the cellar, as in the fields, patience and a non-interventionist approach are the rules at Château Richard. When the grapes are good, the wine is good.
The style of the wines
The noble rot concentrates the sugar in the grapes by sucking the liquid out of them. The wines therefore have a high to very high sweetness. But the sugar concentration is also followed by acid concentration, which means that the wines always have a perfect balance, and never seem heavy, not even the sweetest of them.
In addition, the fungus changes the taste and chemical composition of the grapes. This creates a wealth of aromas and flavor nuances that no artificial process can imitate.
Château Richard's Saussignacs smell and taste of exotic fruits, marzipan, honey, etc., their texture is oily and syrupy.
Extremely high quality and low prices
Their purity, their intensity and their complexity mean that they can compete with the greatest sweet wines from, for example, Sauternes. Saussignac's rather unknown status, on the other hand, keeps the prices at an absurdly low level in relation to their enormous quality and in relation to the minimal yield that the dried grapes leave behind.