2021 Domaine Arnaud Lambert, Saumur-Champigny Rouge “Les Terres Rouges” Loire Valley, France.
Emerging as one of the most celebrated Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc producers in the Loire, Arnaud Lambert has put another set of beautiful wines from the Saumur-Champigny region, with this latest 2021 Les Terres Rouges being a pure and elegant Cab Franc that shows fine aromatics, mineral tones, pretty fruit layering and delicate earthiness. I have been a fan of these wines for a while now and Arnaud Lambert, who is based in Saint Cyr en Bourg – Brézé, as noted here, 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! This Les Terres Rouges, named for the soils in this plot, shows a dark garnet color and floral aromas in the glass with a bright medium bodied palate of blackberry, mulberry, plum and cherry fruits along with a touch of bell pepper, cinnamon, anise, chalky stones and lingering currants. There this a lot to like here and there’s a fresh cut of acidity and the tannins are very polished, making it a graceful Cab Franc that could be from nowhere but here, such is the terroir influence and it is a wine that really comes alive with food, where it gains an extra dimension and seduces the senses. This is a wine that will enhance almost any meal and can play well with simple rustic country cuisine and or more elevated dishes like seared duck breast.
Lambert’s personal offerings, after the end of Château de Brézé are giving an insight as to his direction as a vigneron, and you can see his transition to one of the region’s top producers and he continues to push quality levels upwards, he has raised the game of those around him as well, pushing the Saumur and Saumur-Champigny AOCs to highlight crus and individual terroirs and lieu-dit sites, as he does, like in this wines, again as I have mentioned here in prior reviews. The goal is to re-discover the regions premier vineyards and exploit its full potential through organic and biodynamic viticulture and less-is-more, precise winemaking, which he himself adheres to. The wines here are lifted and precise in style, but show complexity and deep concentration with structures to age and this Les Terres Rouges, while youthfully taut and slightly shy still, is no exception and I can imagine it impressing in 10 to 15 years, just as much as it does now. This parcel is set on iron rich clay, alluvial sand and tuffeau (limestone) soils and a cooler western exposure that gives this wine its personality, which Lambert, who wanted to allow to shine through here, fermented and aged this 100% Cab Franc in concrete. He used zero stems, de-stemmed grapes, indigenous yeasts and employed what he calls infusion extraction, a lengthy cool maceration, in temperature controlled vats with about a year of elevage in the concrete with up to 3 rackings to clarify with ultra low sulfur. This bottling is wildly delicious and a real value for Loire Valley Cabernet Franc lovers, I highly recommend searching out these Lambert wines, especially the fabulous set of Chenins and the reds, like this one, and the upper end Clos Moleton, Clos de L’Etoile and Montee Des Roches.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive