- Sauvignon Blanc
- Biodynamic, Organic
- Medium Bodied
- 12.5% alc./vol
About the Winery
Stéphane Riffault, son of Claude Riffault, has become one of the most sought-after producers in the region. At barely 30 years old, his Sancerre wines have already become the envy of some of the region's most established vintners.
Stéphane's Sancerre wines come from 33 different parcels in 8 different lieu-dits spread across 4 villages on limestone soils. Having studied and worked in Burgundy, and then trained with some of best – Olivier Leflaive (Burgundy), Château Angélus (Bordeaux), and his very own father, Claude Riffault – it’s easy to see the Burgundian influence and the master of minerality in Stéphane’s wines.
When his father retired, Stéphane took over the winery and embarked upon a journey of viticultural transformation. Today, all 13.5 hectares are certified organic (ECOCERT, 2016) and biodynamic (BIODYVIN, 2021). The entire harvest is carried out by hand and an extensive sorting takes place before the grapes are crushed –– a testament to his craftsmanship and an unwavering commitment to sustainability.
93 points - Stephan Reinhardt
From gravelly limestone soils and made with fruit from nearly a dozen east- and southeast-facing parcels at 275 meters in altitude, the 2020 Sancerre Les Chasseignes opens with an initially greenish, refreshing bouquet. It offers white fruit and coolish stones aromas on the elegant and moderately intense nose but gains in complexity if aerated for some days in the open bottle. Round and elegant on the palate, this full-bodied and refreshing Sancerre reveals a finely intense and concentrated texture with ripe, fleshy yellow plum notes and delicate grip from ripe tannins and aging sur lie, but it finishes with the purity and mineral freshness of an excellent Sancerre. The finish is long, dense and savory. Les Chasseignes seems to be richer and rounder than Les Denisottes and Les Chailloux yet initially lacks the tension and structure of those, which makes the alcohol more palatable. However, this is still an excellent wine. And, tasted again after 11 (!) days from the same bottle, it's even a great Sancerre. 14% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted in January 2022.
Stéphane Riffault has presented another great vintage after the superb 2019s, which I still tend to prefer. But on the other hand, 2020 is still a very young vintage that developed so enormously well over days in the bottle that I won't argue against what Stéphane says: "2019 shows very well today, even better than 2020, I agree, but in few years I assume the 2020s will be the more interesting wines."
The biggest difference between 2020 and 2019 is the level of tartaric acid in the grapes at harvest. "The 2020s are a bit higher in alcohol but lower in pH compared to 2019, and their sustainability on the palate makes me very happy. Since the 2020 alcoholic fermentations went through more dynamic, we find these tropical fruit aromas on the nose at the moment, especially in wines from limestone kimmerdigian soils, but with bottle aging the terroir will shine through much more prominently."
Next to Stéphane's two impressive monoparcelle cuvées, which are vinified in 20-hectoliter foudres for 18 months, the Echalas was aged in three-year-old 350-liter François Frères oak barrels. It will be released as Vin de France since a part of the vineyards were declassified by the INAO and cannot be marketed under the Sancerre AOP. "After 40 years of planting vines here, this was a big disappointment for us," reports Stéphane. However, he has made a fabulous Sancerre-like wine here in 2020 that would have surely become one of the appellation's finest of the 2020 vintage if not of younger history.