Based in the village of Sury-en-Vaux, Stéphane Riffault works 33 different parcels in 6 different lieu-dits spread across 4 villages. The 13.5 hectares of vines are certified organic. Unlike most Sancerre producers, the entire harvest is carried out by hand and an extensive sorting takes place before the grapes are crushed. Stéphane’s wife, Benedicte, leads the harvest team while Stéphane manages the sorting and press during harvest.
Most of the domaine’s holdings are planted on the soft limestone soil called Terres Blanches with some parcels on calliottes and silex. Small, judicious uses of oak help to add length to the already precise and vertical bottling. All of the parcels are vinified separately. All the wines are bottled unfiltered.
Having studied and worked in Burgundy (and closely with Olivier Leflaive),it’s easy to see the Burgundian influence in Stéphane’s wines. The mastery of minerality standing shoulder–height with the wood is rarely duplicated in Sancerre. Regardless of the exposition of his parcels (many are south facing), Riffault’s wines are always crisp and high-cut with a jeweled sort of delineation that speaks to the precision and attention these wines get.
Locations called “Les Chasseignes” are common in Sancerre. This local name designates caillottes soil: shallow limestone soil and subsoil containing overlapping stones. Stéphane’s lieu-dit of this name is located north of his home and cellars in the village of Sury-en-Vaux. Released in late spring along with Les Boucauds (terres blanches), Les Chasseignes shows the nervier style of wine typical from this distinct terroir.
25-50 year old vines are farmed at 260 meters. Hand harvested, and hand sorted. Natural yeast fermentation in stainless steel (50%) and French oak barrels (50%). Then aged 7-8 months in stainless steel tank and neutral French oak barrels. No malolactic.