Location: Loire Valley, France
Founded in 2002 by Sébastien Riffault
From curator Siôn Iorwerth:
"These are not your typical tart and steely wines from Sancerre. The son of a winemaker, Sébastien has been making wine under his own label since 2002. Situated around the village of Sury-en-Voux, he farms 12 hectares of vines.
Sébastien Riffault in his vines. Credits: Call me wine
Farming biodynamically with dogmatic attention to the biodiversity of the vineyards. His vineyards, populated with cover crops of flowers and grass, are in stark contrast to his conventional neighbor's neat and uniform rows. Sébastien never uses chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. His only machinery are the two horses that help him plow the soil.
Sébastien’s hard work in the vines is only part of the reason why his wines are so startlingly different from the mainstream. Farming is the backbone and the reason why he is comfortable leaving the grapes on the vines until mid-October when the grapes start to have botrytis. This was traditionally practiced in Sancerre generations ago, but times have changed. These are old-school Sancerre, without tricks or manipulations. For those of you seeking a stamp of approval, Sébastien’s wines are certified organic by l’intégralité du Domaine en Culture Biologique, certifiée par Bureau Veritas Certification. He is a member of The Association of Vins Naturels and The Renaissance Group of Appellations.
With such a fastidious approach to farming, Sébastien ensures that he is using the best fruit, by hand-harvesting all of the vines, before work in the cellar begins. All of the wines are fermented to dryness with natural yeasts, in large old barrels, with elévage often spanning several years. They are aged on fine lees and go through complete malolactic fermentation. The only exception is ‘Les Quarterons,’ which is fermented in stainless steel. The wines are made with zero additions; meaning that Sébastien never uses chaptalization, acidification, or any SO2 (except for a small amount at bottling for ‘Les Quarterons’). The wines are bottled by gravity and are both unfined and unfiltered.
Each cuvée comes from a single vineyard, highlighting the different terroir. All the wines are named by Sébastien’s wife, Jurate, who is from Lithuania. The names translate to the different soil types.
We’re very excited to be bringing these wines to Canada. Sébastien is a true icon in the natural wine world and these unique expressions of sauvignon blanc speak for themselves."