2020 Domaine Arnaud Lambert, Saumur Blanc, Clos de Midi, Brézé, Loire Valley, France.
The Domaine Arnaud Lambert based in Saint Cyr en Bourg – Brézé is making some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the region and the latest Clos di Midi is a fresh, bright and energy filled version that shows mineral driven intensity and an ever expanding textural pleasure on the medium bodied palate with classic white peach, citrus and green apple fruits, wet stones, delicate herb and spice with just a hint of honeycomb and melon. This is a wine that can be really enjoyed now, its youthfulness is not a penalty at all, such is the quality and completeness here and its dry nature and chalky salty element makes it very cleansing and excellent with food, while still joyous as a solo sipper, especially for the Chenin enthusiasts. This was the first time I’ve had this wine under this label and I was incredibly impressed by Arnaud’s touch and subtly here, this is an exceptional value for what you get in the glass. Lambert also does sparkling Crémant de Loire Blanc, which has 75% Chenin and 25% Chardonnay in the blend to add richness and depth and a Cabernet Rosé bubbly that also uses fruit from the Clos de Midi, as well as elegant examples of Cabernet Franc, but it really is all about the dry Chenins, especially the Clos or Cru bottlings, like this beautifully detailed and crisply focused version.
Arnaud Lambert, who began as part of a father and son team with his dad Yves, made a name for himself when he took over at the historic estate of the Château de Brézé, one of France’s great properties and one that the French royals, as noted by the winery, used to exchange wines of Brézé annually for Château d’Yquem Sauternes. I have had a few outstanding wines from Château de Brézé over the years, so it was exciting to see Lambert’s personal offerings and get insight to his direction as a vigneron. I understand that Lambert is pushing the appellations of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny to invest in quality and focus on individual terroirs and lieu-dit sites, as he does, like in this wine. The goal is to re-discover the regions premier vineyards and exploit its full potential through organic viticulture and less-is-more, precise winemaking, which he himself adheres to. Brézé is a unique site due to its relatively high elevation and Tuffeau, the chalky limestone soils here that gives these wines their distinct character. The all organic Clos de Midi, a southeast facing parcel that was planted in 1985, was fermented using Indigenous yeasts and was done in 50% in stainless steel tanks and 50% in older Burgundian barrels, after which is was aged for 12 months. Thanks to Nate at Elroy’s Fine Foods and Wines in Monterey for showing me this 2020 vintage, I highly recommend chasing down a few bottles of this one as well as the sparklers.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive