Domaine de Saint-Just


Domaine de St.-Just is an estate that was established in 1996 by Yves Lambert and his son, Arnaud. Sadly, Yves unexpectedly passed away in 2011, leaving Arnaud with the domaine. Thankfully, Arnaud has an education in enology and viticulture and has been involved in the winemaking since the beginning.

Just before the passing of Yves, they both decided to make the leap to organic farming (which they are now certified) and eventually to a biodynamic practice. Time spent with Arnaud reveals a deeply introspective and humble winemaker; it’s hard to get him to compliment his own wines. He is very matter-of-fact about what he has experienced in shaping his practices, in both the winery and the vineyard. You quickly realize that, despite the noble cause of converting his vineyards to organic and biodynamic production, it is not a sales and marketing gimmick for him.

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The entry-level and mid-range wines are vinified and raised in stainless steel tanks, while the high-end cuvées are generally raised in older oak barrels. Both methods helps preserve the tension and freshness of the Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. In a sea of “less than hygienic” wines made in the Loire Valley under the guise of biodynamics or the “natural” wine movement, these wines are refreshingly clean, pure expressions of two of the most exciting and distinctive varietals in the world.

Lay Of The Land

The vineyard areas of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny are small islands of limestone chalk hills surrounded by fields of river alluvium. The general advantage that Saumur-Champigny has over the surrounding Saumur appellation is that they are higher elevations with good drainage whereas the larger area of Saumur sits mostly on flat areas with a mix of soils. That said, there are a few exceptions to that in Saumur, like the hill of Brézé and a few other notable limestone outcrops that create dynamic and deeply profound wines.

Domaine de St. Just’s vineyards are planted on sandstone, clay and limestone soils on the once famous white wine hill called, Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg. The limestone bedrock not too deep below the clay and sand help to create tension-filled expressions of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.