By Tina Xie, 26 Feb 2020
Historically praised by and enjoyed among the royal courts of Europe in the 15th century, the wines of Brézé were once considered some of the best whites in France. It proudly distinguished itself from its surrounding Saumur-Champigny AOC. Though the glory faded through time, some of these determined growers are fighting for its renaissance. Together with Clos Rougeard, Domaine Guiberteau and Domaine du Collier, Arnaud Lambert is one of the four figures in this revolution.
Famous for its tuffeau soil (a porous local limestone), the prime parcels of Brézé were dominated by the once-glorious Château de Brézé. Vividly different to the neighbouring vineyards with heavy clay content, the soils here are mostly rocks and sand which offer better water drainage and lower humidity for the vines.
‘All wines were the same at the beginning, but you need to work hard on the soil and bring out the unique character of each clos.’ It was Lambert’s belief in terroir and commitment to fruit quality that impressed the owner of Château de Brézé who decided to lease them these parcels in 2009. As soon as they took control, Yves and Arnaud, the father and son, immediately started sustainable viticultural practices, and all vineyards were officially certified to organic in 2012. It is this determination that places the Lamberts in a league to fight for the renaissance of Brézé.
First and most importantly, fruits are 100% free from botrytis with sorting starting from the vineyard as ‘I don’t want a wine that may appear rich textured at first but oxidise within a few years.’ Arnaud Lambert is also thankful for his rocky terroir as it helps reduce the occurrence of botrytis. With the approach of low sulphur, fruits are sent to the press straightaway after harvest with no skin maceration and no malo before the wines undergo an extended and undisturbed lees-ageing. As someone who appreciates continuous learning and improvement, Lambert also experiments with maturation regimes for his cuvées every year. The approach to sulphur is also another important practice by Lambert who prefers to add only a tiny dose at bottling for stabilisation. The resulting Chenin is precise, balanced, and age worthy.
Arnaud Lambert also makes a range of Cabernet Francs which are equivalently pure, fragrant, and terroir-expressive. Influenced by his education in Dijon, Arnaud Lambert aims to produce Burgundian-style reds of delicacy and charm.