Thierry Richoux

The Story

Once in a great while you stumble on a hidden gem, even one that has been in plain sight for decades. The first time I tasted a wine made by Thierry Richoux was out of a small, thick-rimmed glass that could only hold about five ounces of wine, if it were completely full. It was a bottle that was brought to dinner by our Chablis producer, Gilles Collet. I can still smell, taste and feel that first moment with Thierry’s 2008 Irancy. To my surprise, he didn’t have an importer in the States yet.

My first meeting with Thierry was one of my most eye-opening experiences. He is a gentle, thin and soft-spoken man with amazingly powerful hands that look like they could crush you with very little effort. Like Thierry, his wines are full of surprises and achieve a level of purity and authenticity that is rare to find, even in Burgundy. I have tasted nearly every red wine he has made going back to the late 80s, and with each wine, a new world opens up. He is without a doubt one of the greatest achievers in our collection and one that I cherish as much as any producer I work with.

Lay of the Land

This gorgeous village of Irancy is tucked in at the bottom of a very small amphitheater about 20 minutes from the center of Chablis. It shares the same basic geology as Chablis: Portlandian limestone on the upper sections and Kimmerigean limestone inside of the sloped areas. However, this is not a place that makes Chardonnay, it is home to one of the furthest north places in France that makes still wine from Pinot Noir.

Irancy has found its special climate for Pinot Noir because of its horseshoe shape that faces south, west and north. The Pinot Noir from the north face is often used for cremant or rosé because it has a more difficult time ripening. The wines from this place can be extremely rustic impressions of Burgundy, something you could imagine something from the Côte d’Or during the 12th century. There is also another red grape here, César, which accentuates the rusticity. However, you will find none of that grape variety in the cellar of Thierry Richoux.

Thierry Richoux Les Cailles

Thierry Richoux - 2012 Irancy, Rouge Les Cailles

Price: $48.00
Size: 750ml
Availability:

24+ in stock

Type of Wine: Red
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Style: Mineral, Rustic

The Wine

Inside the Bottle:  Meet Thierry Richoux’s newest single cru wine, Les Cailles. It’s a lieu-dit site that sits on the far western end of Irancy's horseshoe-shaped amphitheater, facing directly south. It’s a classic Richoux wine, made in a more rustic but pure style of Burgundy raised more like an Italian wine. Like Thierry's other Irancy wines (including his other great lieu-dit bottling, Veaupessiot), it spends its first year in stainless steel, followed by a second year in large (55-85hl) seemingly ancient foudres. (Most red Burgundies are raised in 228 liter French oak barrels, so about 4% or less volume than his smallest foudre.)

The purpose of this nontraditional elevage is partially due to a belief that Pinot Noir grown on Kimmerdigian limestone tends to give rough tannic edges to young wines, requiring the extra time that large format can provide without sacrificing all the bright aromas to oxidation when raised in smaller barrels.

Thierry releases his red wines “when they are ready,” which usually means at least four years after they are harvested. If you've tasted in Thierry's cellar before, you will know that despite their youthful appeal, even four years is far too early for these wines that effortlessly age for decades. The considerable rewards the patient buyer of Thierry’s brilliant wines is the purity and complexity that awaits. If you pop them early (which I absolutely encourage), just let them do their thing and in an hour or less you will see the intricate work of Thierry’s masterful craftsmanship.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: Irancy is tucked in at the bottom of a very small amphitheater about 20 minutes west from the center of Chablis. It shares the same basic geology as Chablis: Portlandian limestone on the upper sections and Kimmerigean limestone inside of the sloped areas. Irancy has found its special climate for Pinot Noir because of its horseshoe shape that faces south, west and north. The Les Cailles parcels are principally located on the north side of the amphitheater facing south on heavier clay soils. The wine tends to be more structured and savory than Richoux's Veaupessiot bottling.

Vinification: After picking by hand the grapes are 100% destemmed and cold soaked for 3 days cold soak before starting their 2-3 week spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. Malolactic is finished naturally by the end of spring (normally, but the climate is changing things). Pre-2018 there was no SO2 before fermentation and none made throughout the elevage until bottling. There is no fining or filtration.

Aging: 2.5 years total elevage time: First year in stainless steel, the remainder in old 228-liter barrels (none new)

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Earthy, Mineral, Animal, Structured, Stony, Tannic, Red and Dark Fruit, Energetic, Muscular, Angular

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

Kimmeridgian limestone marls and with heavy clay soils and less rocks

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

50 yr ave (2019); 7-8 parcels, 1.77ha

Altitude:

270

Aspect:

S

Slope:

Soft slope
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfur Dioxide

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

12.5-13.5

pH:

3.4-3.5

Titratable Acidity:

4.5

Residual Sugar:

>1

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Thierry Richoux

About The Wine

Inside the Bottle:  Meet Thierry Richoux’s newest single cru wine, Les Cailles. It’s a lieu-dit site that sits on the far western end of Irancy’s horseshoe-shaped amphitheater, facing directly south. It’s a classic Richoux wine, made in a more rustic but pure style of Burgundy raised more like an Italian wine. Like Thierry’s other Irancy wines (including his other great lieu-dit bottling, Veaupessiot), it spends its first year in stainless steel, followed by a second year in large (55-85hl) seemingly ancient foudres. (Most red Burgundies are raised in 228 liter French oak barrels, so about 4% or less volume than his smallest foudre.)

The purpose of this nontraditional elevage is partially due to a belief that Pinot Noir grown on Kimmerdigian limestone tends to give rough tannic edges to young wines, requiring the extra time that large format can provide without sacrificing all the bright aromas to oxidation when raised in smaller barrels.

Thierry releases his red wines “when they are ready,” which usually means at least four years after they are harvested. If you’ve tasted in Thierry’s cellar before, you will know that despite their youthful appeal, even four years is far too early for these wines that effortlessly age for decades. The considerable rewards the patient buyer of Thierry’s brilliant wines is the purity and complexity that awaits. If you pop them early (which I absolutely encourage), just let them do their thing and in an hour or less you will see the intricate work of Thierry’s masterful craftsmanship.