Quarterons – Sébastien Riffault (2013)
- Grape Variety(s): Sauvignon Blanc
- Style: Dry White
- Region: Sancerre, France
- Winemaker: Sébastien Riffault
- Soil: Clay and Limestone
- Age of Vines: 30 yrs
His wines are unique in the Sancerre world, but a strong reflection and true test of his vineyards and soil. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc is known for its intense minerality, crisp texture and citrus quality. Riffault’s Sancerre wines are not like the mainstream ones, but none the less delicious, while showcasing his 2 hectares near Sury-en-Vaux. Sebastien Riffault, son of winemaker Etienne Riffault, began his own label in 2002. The big difference between him and the rest of Sancerre is his belief in biodiversity and biodynamic principals and natural winemaking. These principals are rare to find in Sancerre where many vines and wines are made with chemicals and manipulation.
The Vineyard: An array of plants, flowers and grass are planted in his vineyards to increase biodiversity and encourage good insects. He uses horse to plow, so the soil is carefully tilled and in the right places, which increases the amount and variety of life in the soil. Absolutely no fertilizers or chemicals are used, and his 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.
The Winemaking: Riffault takes the natural approach here as well. Riffault leaves his grapes on the vine extremely late in order to get them completely ripe usually affected by botrytis. The wines are fermented in large, old barrels with wild yeast (except Les Quarterons is fermented in stainless steel). In spite of the crisp, intense acidity, all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation. The wines are aged on their lees. They are never chaptalized or acidified. His wines are not filtered or fined. A tiny amount of sulfur is added to Les Quarterons at time of bottling. Wines are bottled by gravity. Drink with a rich, fatty dish!
Merlot – Roark Wine Co (2014)
- Grape Variety(s): Merlot
- Style: Dry Red
- Region: Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon
- Winemaker: Ryan Roark
- Soil: Sand
- Age of Vines: 25 yrs
Ryan grew up in Texas. After attending Texas A&M, he apprenticed in several wineries in New Zealand before settling in Central California working with a vineyard management company. After a few years, Ryan started buying fruit from some of his favorite vineyards to make tiny batches of wine in what would become Roark Wine Company. Now six years in and full time with his winery, Ryan and his wife Jenn still only produce about 1,500 cases of wine per year from a combination of purchased fruit and from vineyards they organically farm themselves.
The 2014 Merlot is made with fruit that Ryan and Jenn farm themselves on a vineyard located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, CA. Given Ryan’s background, he places a special emphasis on particulars in the vineyard, especially when it comes time to harvest. Rather uniquely, they will harvest in 3-5 stages, cluster by cluster, in order to achieve the desired balance of ripeness and acidy NATURALLY, so that there is no need for manipulation in the cellar. This Merlot is aged for 16 months in neutral oak and is absolutely delicious with just about anything off the grill.