But it was the discovery of Chenin Blanc, in particular Coteaux du Layon, together with his friendship with Joël Ménard of Domaine des Sablonettes, that was to tempt him from banking into viticulture.
It was in 1992 that he
discovered Ménard's wines, and the friendship that developed was mutually beneficial.
had all the viticultural experience anyone could have wanted, but not the tasting experience to match Richard's years spent getting acquainted with the likes of Latour, DRC, Yquem and so on.
As the two spent more time together Richard absorbed as much of Joël's knowledge of vines and viticulture that he
could, and eventually the two agreed that Richard should buy some vines.
was adamant that only the best terroir would do.
In 1996 he
found that vineyard, Les Noëls de Montbenault, the very plot of vines to which we were now heading in Richard's little van.
So now Richard was a vigneron, part-time at least, although Joël
had a constant presence during the first three years as Richard struggled to juggle his various commitments, using his holidays to come back to Rablay-sur-Layon and tend to his vines.