While soft-spoken and humble, Arnaud Lambert is helping to drive a revolutionary movement in the appellations of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. The goal is to re-discover each individual terroir and its potential through organic viticulture and less-is-more, precise winemaking. This is particularly important considering 70% of the surface area in Brézé and Saint Cyr belongs to the cooperatives, where branding and blending prevail, and mass-produced crémants dominate.
Brézé is a unique site due to its relatively high elevation and eminently nuanced geological profile. The significant presence of tuffeau, (a porous, chalky limestone also used in the construction of much of the Loire’s Renaissance architecture) results in finely mineral Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Clay and sand also lend themselves to the diversity of the terroirs, giving body to the reds and richness to the whites. Arnaud’s driving ambition is to truly understand and reveal the distinctions within this extraordinary appellation.
Arnaud strives for consistent methods in the cellar, so that each individual terroir is what shines through. Only the traditional Champagne methods for the crémants, which—grown on the estate’s chalkiest soils can hold their own against some of the great, classic Champagnes. The Saumur Blanc and Rouge are vinified and aged exclusively in stainless steel to maintain fruit and freshness. As one moves up in the range and the wines gain in power and density, each of the five Clos wines see an increasing percentage of new oak and longer élevage.
2017 marks an exciting transition for fans of Arnaud’s captivating wines as he will unite his cuvées from both Brézé (20ha) and Saint Cyr en Bourg (20ha) under one label: Domaine Arnaud Lambert. The Saint Cyr wines come from Domaine Saint-Just, which was founded by Arnaud’s father Yves in 1996 when Arnaud was still getting his viticulture and oenology degree. The father/son team began working together in 2005, and in 2009, they also became managers of the viticultural estate of the Château de Brézé. (The château is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site, but also a historically important reference in French fine wine: royals used to exchange these wines annually for Château d’Yquem Sauternes.) The same year, they began to work the Château vines, Yves and Arnaud began converting all of their vineyards to organic, and were officially certified in 2012. This movement stemmed first and foremost from the desire to express the terroir of each individual Clos in its purest, most vibrant form.