Claude Riffault, 2022 Update
To taste the wines of this domaine – named for Claude Riffault, but these days expertly run by his son Stéphane – is a reminder that in the hunt for supreme Sauvignon (yes, there is such a thing) it is always worth looking beyond the cult domaines. Just as there is more to Saumur-Champigny than Clos Rougeard, the 21st-century darling of Instagram, so too there is more to Sancerre than the wines of François Cotat or Anne Vatan.
Stéphane Riffault is based in Sury-en-Vaux, situated to the northwest of the town of Sancerre, and five kilometres distant from the cultish hotspot of Chavignol (it is about an hour on foot between the two, if you fancy a walk through the vineyards). But his wines are certainly no less interesting and no less enjoyable than those made by more starry names.
Stéphane Riffault (pictured below) is in fact the fourth generation of the family to take the vineyards in hand. Although named for his father, there was a great-grandfather doing the pruning and picking during the 19th century, and a grandfather who shifted away from polyculture to work purely with the vine. Stéphane joined the fray in 2001, since when the vineyard has expanded somewhat, so that today it accounts for close to 16 hectares of vines. The majority of this is planted to Sauvignon Blanc, of course, but about 3 hectares are dedicated to Pinot Noir, with the vineyard of La Noue being a particularly renowned site.
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