Beatrice and Pascal Lambert
Pascal and Beatrice Lambert have 17ha of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc in Cravant-les-Coteaux, west of Chinon. Their domaine, Les Chesnaies, is a cluster of diverse plots and micro-terroirs reaching upwards from the banks of the Vienne river – compassing alluvial, silica-rich gravel; calcareous clay and silex soils. The plots are planted with vines ranging from 6 to 75 years old, further differentiating their character.
For the Lamberts winemaking is about preserving these typicalities, vinifying each plot separately, and using different techniques. In the vineyard, biodynamics hold sway.
The domaine has been certified biodynamic since 2012. Pascal first began to transition from conventional practice in the 2000s, finding himself at an impasse, with unanswered questions and a gnawing sense of responsibility for the land he viewed as his patrimony. He stopped weeding; the vines began to auto-regulate and to push their roots into deeper, more complex soil – competing for the first time in many years. It was one of the first changes in an entire overhaul of the estate which took 10 years. Today, the Lamberts practice a fully-fledged, strict biodynamics. The vineyards are planted each year with a different recipe of cover crops – mustard, oats, kale, rye – which assist the vines in their uptake of biodynamic preparations, and return nutrient to the soil; the Lamberts make their own fertiliser from the marc left over from the fermentation, which -with the help of their neighbours – they bury with their own cow horns in the soil (preparation 500). Their horse Isis, plows the vines.
From the vineyard to the cellar, everything is guided as far as possible by the lunar calendar, from pruning to racking, to bottling and to the end of preserving the typicality of the plot. Harvest, selection and punch downs are manual; fermentation is slow and gentle, using only indigenous yeasts; there is no fining nor filtration and sulphur at bottling only.
Les Perruches: 10-30 year old Cabernet Franc from the clay and Senonian flint of Chinon plateau and Cravant-les-Coteaux.. Macerated in open top concrete for 23-30 days with manual punch down. After racking, 25% is aged for 12 months in 2-5 year old oak; 75% in truncated wooden vats, then blended and aged for a further 6-8 months in concrete.
Les Terrasses, 10-30 year old Cabernet Franc from the pebbly alluvial quartz of the Vienne river valley. Macerated for 14 days in concrete vats, followed by ageing in concrete for 6-12 months.
Rochette, 10 year old Chenin Blanc on Cravant les Coteaux clay-limestone. Fermentation and ageing for 10-11 months on the lees, partly in oak barrel and partly truncated wooden vats.