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A duo of 2022 Sancerre from Domaine Claude Riffault

A duo of 2022 Sancerre from
Domaine Claude Riffault

'A rising star in Sancerre'

2022 Sancerre, Les Denisottes, Claude Riffault - £180 per 6 bottle case in bond
2022 Sancerre, Les Chailloux, Claude Riffault - £180 per 6 bottle case in bond

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I remember tasting the Sancerre of Claude Riffault many years back and while they were good, even very good, I would not have called them exceptional. Today, having just tasted two different examples from the domaine, I can comfortably confirm that Stephane Riffault, Claude’s son is making exceptional wines. Frankly, I was blown away by the quality on show… it far exceeded my expectations.
‘Make no mistake: this address in the hamlet of Maison Salle (Sury-en-Vaux) is now one of the five or six most exciting estates in the Sancerre appellation.’ David Schildknecht,
‘(Domaine) Claude Riffault is a shining star in Sancerre, producing suave, texturally intriguing, seemingly effortless wines.’ Rebecca Gibb MW,

About Domaine Claude Riffault
The estate is based in the village of Sury-En-Vaux, which is situated around 5 kilometres outside Sancerre itself – overall they have approximately 13 hectares of vines but spread across 4 different villages, and over 30 individual parcels. The domaine practices biodynamic viticulture and has been certified biodynamic since 2017, eschewing all chemical pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard. All of these parcels are vinified separately, with careful use of oak, which is not even a footnote in the resultant style.  The wines speak of their origins – subtle differences are clearly revealed between bottlings, all of which are incredibly expressive.  Perhaps this relates to Stephane’s training in Burgundy, but the focus is on bringing out the best from each site. The wines are wonderfully pure and have plenty of energy and tension, despite on the whole coming from south-facing sites. The word that kept occurring in my tasting note was ‘chiselled’ – these are so well crafted and bear no representation to the Sancerre of yesteryear. They have a superb texture too, which relates to the extensive lees-ageing that is practised at the domaine. Frankly, I don’t believe Sancerre gets much better than this and these 2022s are wholeheartedly endorsed.
Please see below for fellow Master of Wine, Rebecca Gibb’s notes as well as my own. Rebecca covers the Loire Valley for

2022 Sancerre, Les Denisottes, Claude Riffault
£180 per 6 bottle case in bond
My note:
From a parcel of old vines on deep, Kimmeridgian terres blanches. Striking, zesty aromas that capture notes of grapefruit, lime and even cassis with salty, iodine notes too. The zestiness is carried forward by the palate, which showing mouthwatering tension, with ample weight and fruit. Notes of grapefruit pith and candied lemon emerge with time, though this is a mineral-accented wines, with plenty of energy. Bright, fresh and pure, this is a stunning Sancerre, with a silky, fine texture on account of the lees-ageing, which has rounded out a youthful wine, that might otherwise have been termed piercing. This will reward patience handsomely; my inclination would be to give it 2/3 years in bottle before broaching. (SL)  Drink 2024-2033.

(91-93) points, Rebecca Gibb MW, (June 2023)
The 2022 Les Denisottes is bright and zesty, retaining its characteristically spritely acidity even in this warm vintage, potentially due to the age of the vines (50 years old). While having curves in the right place thanks to its time on lees, it remains focused and precise with a touch of tannic grip, adding extra structure and appealing bitterness to the citrussy conclusion. Foudre aging on lees has imparted delicate nutty/biscuity characters, which linger long. Drink 2024-2030.
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2022 Sancerre, Les Chailloux, Claude Riffault
£180 per 6 bottle case in bond
My note:
From a parcel of vines approaching 50 years of age on flinty/ stony soils. Such a complete showing, the aromas are at once open, revealing notes of wet flint, juicy lemon and orchard fruit. There is striking harmony on the palate, this sublime Sancerre shows ripe fruit beautifully integrated with the bright acidity and underlying minerality. The texture impresses once more, without a harsh edge as the lees-ageing has created a sleek, smooth impression. With air, riper fruit notes emerge, hints of papaya or guava even, but then the palate sharpens up with a satisfying, bitter grapefruit twist at the finish. Long and pure, this stylish Chailloux is really quite something. (SL) 2024 -2035.

(93-95) points, Rebecca Gibb MW, (June 2023)
There's nothing shy about the 2022 Les Chaiilloux. It is firm and focused with a strict structure, backbone of acidity and flinty power that guns through the wine from start to finish. There's concentration and substance wrapped up in this compact wine, whose edges have been curved by time in foudre on lees. I've called this a strict, schoolmistressy wine in the past, and in 2022, it remains strict but less uptight. Elderflowers and nettles meet subtle autolytic notes on the long, direct finish. Drink 2024-2031.

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