VISIT IMPORTER'S WEBSITE
Country of Origin: France
Location: Sancerre, Loire
People: Sébastien Riffault, Owner & Winemaker
Viticulture: Certified Biodynamic
Wine Tasting, Vineyards, in France: Draft-horse plowing in Sancerre
The Feiring Line: Place vs. Grape vs. Ponsot vs. Suspenders
Travel & Leisure: Sancerre: The Other Loire Valley
I'll Drink to That!: Episode 180: Sébastien Riffault
His wines are unique in the Sancerre world, but a strong reflection and true test of his vineyards and soil. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc is known for its intense minerality, crisp texture and citrus quality. Riffault’s Sancerre wines are not like the mainstream ones, but none the less delicious, while showcasing his 2 hectares near Sury-en-Vaux. Sébastien Riffault, son of winemaker Etienne Riffault, began his own label in 2002. The big difference between him and the rest of Sancerre is his belief in biodiversity and biodynamic principals and natural winemaking. These principals are rare to find in Sancerre where many vines and wines are made with chemicals and manipulation. He uses a horse to plow (but is careful to not over plow). No fertilizers or chemicals are used. His wines are not filtered or fined. No SO2 is added (except for a few wines at the time of bottling). Wines are bottled by gravity. His wines are certified organic by l’intégralité du Domaine en Culture Biologique, certifiée par Bureau Veritas Certification. He is a member of The Association of Vins Naturels and The Renaissance Group of Appellations.
WineTerroirs.com (Bertrand Celce)
"Sébastien makes Sancerre wines without adding anything, no sugar, no SO2, no fining and no filtering, even for whites, which is even rarer. The resulting wines are worth a try if you never had the occasion, they're not like mainstream Sancerre but wine lovers usually get hooked on these onctuous and lively wines."
International Wine Cellar 2014
"Whether one agrees with his winemaking philosophy or not, Sébastien Riffault is an interesting personality who must be taken seriously. After working abroad, he started coming back home in 2004, but it was only in 2007 that he truly unpacked his bags and put down his roots. Decidedly casually dressed and with disheveled hair, he might well have been found at the corner of Haight and Ashbury if he had been raised in the late '60s. Many of his ideas have a similar bent. His goal, as he tells it, is to bring Sancerre back to what it was three generations ago. Part of this approach is laudable. His 12 hectares of vineyards spread out over 35 parcels are all certified biodynamic since 2007 by both Veritas and Demeter. Moreover, horses plow a third of the vines. He also abhors the use of both enzymes and cultured yeasts, does not fine or filter his wines, and bottles by gravity. Up to that point, he is the poster boy of a new generation of vintners. However, his extremely late harvests, veneration of botrytis and decision not to employ sulfites have polarized the wine world. In short, you either love his wines or you don't. It is not surprising that he lost the whole of his father's clientele in his first six months of operation. He also speaks of three levels of "fermentation." The first is alcoholic, the second malolactic in 60-liter casks and the third what he refers to as "oil," which works a different level of carbon chains. I have to admit that I am caught here without an answer in this debate. There is no question that he is pushing the envelope, but where is this leading?"