Sébastien Riffault Raudonas Sancerre 2013

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Sancerre, Loire, France
Pinot Noir
Fermented with native yeasts, unfiltered & unfined, no additional sulphites
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The Sancerre bad boy weighs in here with a grape you perhaps don't principally associate with this part of France: Pinot Noir. If you're unfamiliar with the producer, Sébastien is one of those growers who pushes the envelope of what can be expected from an appellation tag; which in most cases he subverts completely, begging the question "how did he get this through as Sancerre...?" - meanwhile his droves of ardent fans pop bottle corks in unison. Riffault's wines are captivating, and certainly won't be forgotten in a hurry. For us they perfectly embody the way you can project an idea of what a wine could or should be, which in turn affects the way you interpret it. In this case, if you have a rigid notion of 'Sancerre' you will most certainly be confounded. However, if you set this preconceived notion aside and taste the wine purely on its own terms, then there's a pleasure-shaped wormhole waiting for you to fall down.

Raudonas is a rareity in this Sauvignon Blanc-dominated region; of course in this case it gets the Riffault treatment, meaning that, just like his white wines, the grapes are harvested extremely late and are partially affected by botrytis AKA noble rot. The wine macerates gently on skins for ten days without any disturbance from pigéage and then is aged for two years in old barrel and in bottle for 6 months before release. It is a wild brand of Pinot that has a fudgy type of strawberry and raspberry fruit, most certainly from a balanced influence of brettanomyces in the mix, as well as notes of something like tomato and spice. Plenty to dive into here, and one to disrupt the Sancerre purists!