Sébastien Riffault, 2016 Update

My experiences with the wines of Sébastien Riffault (pictured below) have been instrumental in helping me to understand how I feel about ‘natural’ wine. Sébastien’s approach is extremely non-interventionist; the fruit is picked late, and often much of the crop is laden with botrytis. The fermentations are conducted in old open-topped wooden cuves, with no treatments at any point, including sulphur dioxide, except for the entry-level Les Quarterons which sees a dose. Without this treatment the wines tend to undergo full malolactic fermentation, before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Sébastien Riffault

A few years ago something seemed to click between me and these wines, and I saw the appeal they can offer; there is no room here for the zippy and minerally zing offered by so many bottles of Sancerre. The wines were all warm hay, wild flowers and summer meadows. But then I seemed to lose that connection, especially in the last couple of encounters; either Sébastien Riffault’s style has become even more extreme, or my palate and feelings about this very natural style have evolved. This tasting, mostly of the 2012 vintage, served only to reinforce this position.

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