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Electric & Expertly Crafted: 2021 Sancerre from Claude Riffault

Stylized bottle of Claude Riffault, Sancerre Blanc Les Boucauds, 2021

Claude Riffault is a shining star in Sancerre, producing suave, texturally intriguing and seemingly effortless wines.
—Rebecca Gibb, MW, Vinous.com

Sury-en-Vaux is one of Sancerre’s most underrated villages. Like Chavignol, just a few kilometers south, it has many hillsides rife with kimmeridgian marl, AKA ‘terres blanches’. This type of terroir is known for producing wines with extra intensity and structure, and it’s one of the reasons Chavignol is so well regarded.

But another reason for Chavignol’s renown is that it’s home to several famous Sancerre names (Cotat, Vatan, and Boulay), while Sury-en-Vaux is not.

That could be changing, because Stéphane Riffault is turning out great wines from Sury-en-Vaux that are looking like some of the best in the entire Sancerre region.

Stéphane’s story is similar to many other French winemakers of his generation; he inherited the domaine from his father Claude, but not before we went to Beaune to study oenology. Once he took over, he converted the domaine first to organic viticulture, then to biodynamics.

But while Stéphane’s story is pretty typical, his wines are anything but. Few producers in Sancerre harvest entirely by hand (another change at the domaine instigated by Stéphane), and fewer still are biodynamic. The qualitative jump for these wines over the last few years has been dramatic, and critics have taken notice.

Today's wine comes from a single site, ‘Les Boucauds’, which has those kimmeridgian marl soils. It’s a powerful and beautifully polished Sancerre that shines especially bright in the acid-driven 2021 vintage. 

Claude Riffault, Sancerre Blanc Les Boucauds, 2021 $39.99

This story was originally featured in our newsletter, where it was offered at a special subscribers-only discount. Subscribers get special offers, the first look at new discoveries, invites to events, and stories about wines and the artisans that make them.