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Claude Riffault Les Boucauds Sancerre 2011

Sauvignon Blanc from Loire, France
  • WS91
  • RP90
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Winemaker Notes

#97 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2012

On the nose, the wine reveals aromas of white fleshed fruit and citrus. The generosity of the soil has resulted in a wine that is full-bodied on the palate. The fine minerality and acidity gives the wine freshness. It can be enjoyed on its own or with shell-fish or fish dishes.

Critical Acclaim

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WS 91
Wine Spectator

This white is still tight, exhibiting a very chiseled feel to the flint and gooseberry notes. The mouthwatering, rapier finish lets chive flower and fleur de sel notes chime in. Could have some staying power in the cellar.

RP 90
The Wine Advocate

Lime and cherry-almond scents lusciously inform the silken palate of Riffault's 2011 Sancerre Les Boucauds in a fashion that calls to mind Saar Riesling. Accents of mint and stone add interest to a finish of delightful and mouthwatering persistence, even if this displays nowhere near the energy or interactive complexity of the corresponding 2008 and 2010.

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Claude Riffault

Claude Riffault

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Claude Riffault, , France - Other regions
Claude Riffault
Domaine Claude Riffault, which has been family-owned and run for five generations, is now in the hands of Claude’s son Stéphane who is working the soil in a much more organic fashion than his father. Chemical herbicides are no longer used on the parcels and there is a heavy weed cover in most of the parcels. The family owns 33 different (and quite small) plots on steep hillsides in four different villages. Part of the vineyard is made up of limestone soil which produces while vines with great fruit and explosive aromas. They also own a smaller amount of vines on flint soil which produces wines of incredible minerality and precision. The vines are ll vinified by plot and by soil type before some are assembled to make a small number of bottlings.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

RPT72196397_2011 Item# 121202

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