Marie and Marcel run Domaine Richaud, with Marcel as winemaker and Marie as manager. Marcel makes some wonderful wines, mostly of the little known village appellation Cairanne. Many consider him one of the top 2 or 3 producers in the appellation. His estate is made up of plots inherited from his parents as well as rented parcels, so some grapes are sold to the local co-op or to négociants. The wines are made in the vineyard by pruning short, never using synthetic fertilizers, keeping the average age of the vines over 25 years old and keeping yields low. His wines are made in large capacity cement vats, each varietal is vinified separately and blended some 8 months later. The wines are not frequently racked and are not fined or filtered.
Richaud’s wines are said to be very popular in France, selling out almost immediately after release. I have read that sales at the estate’s tasting room account for the majority of all sales (though I find that difficult to believe). On a trip to Paris in September, we went to dinner at Le Gorille Blanc on our first night and I was more than a little excited to see his ’07 Galets offered by the glass. In the United States it takes a little bit of work to find his wines — and the l’Ebrescade is one of the more difficult given total production is around 400-450 cases. I have only found the ’05 l’Ebrescade at the little shop of treasures otherwise known as Chambers Street Wines.
The l’Ebrescade is Richaud’s top wine, with an average vine age of 45 years — grown on clay and limestone soils. It is a blend of 37% Grenache, 28% Syrah and 35% Mourvèdre. The l’Ebrescade is aged in barriques or demi-muids. Dark red fruit, violet, soy sauce, rare meat and hint of bubble gum on the nose. The aromatics remind me of Domaine Gramenon wines in that they have a just a touch of grape Bubblicious on the nose. Also, like the wines from Domaine Gramenon, Richaud’s wines express a purity of fruit. Loaded with pure dark red and blue fruit, earth and licorice with some meaty and smokey nuances. Dense and rich, balanced and precise. Solid acidity, structure and finish. 14.5% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner. Strongly recommended. I drank this over the course of three evenings. I thought it showed best on day 2 and would certainly decant prior to serving.
All of Richaud’s wines would be on my list of top wines for the year. Other wines would include the 2007 Domaine Gramenon Sierra du Sud and La Segasse, the 2005 Basetti from Edmunds St John, the wines of Ariana Occhipinti and a number of 2007 Rhônes.