Our first visit with the Boys of Saumur started with the inseparable pair, Romain Guiberteau and Brendan Stater-West. As it turns out, Brendan (who spends his days working for Romain) hit a wall in his pursuit of trying to make something more of his work in Saumur.
Late last year, he was eyeing a small parcel of vineyards for his new domaine, but it didn’t work out the way he’d hoped and he contemplated going back home to Oregon. Romain immediately stepped in to invest some of his own resources to keep Brendan’s dream alive, while preserving their working relationship; he was able to secure for him a short-term contract for two hectares of land on Brézé—one hectare of red and one of white. So now there is another new producer on Brézé, our favorite hill!
J.D. and I were there to witness the cutting of the first vine on one of Brendan’s new parcels. The vines are old and in need of a lot of love, which these two will easily supply. The potential is very promising. Our tasting with these two was inspirational. Romain always aims to improve his ideas and it seems that his newest wines do just that. Brendan’s second vintage has taken a good jump up from his 2015, which was already a very successful first vintage.
As usual, our visit with Arnaud Lambert was inspiring. He has turned another new corner with his wines and there are only good things in the air. He made a few special cuvées for us from Chenin in Montsoreau, a commune within Saumur-Champigny, right next to the river, and Bonnes Nouvelles, one of the historic lieux-dits of Brézé that was used in previous vintages for sweet wines, and they’ll be coming to California soon. Sadly, there were only two barrels of each of these two delicious wines, so the quantities are miniscule. More to come on that later.
I’ve known Arnaud now for eight years and I’ve noticed that he has a newfound level of confidence and conviction. His 2015 reds are outrageously delicious and have begun to match the quality of his best white wines. His 2015s, 2016s and 2017s are exciting and forcefully continue the march upward.
If you haven’t noticed yet, he has merged his two domaines under one name, Arnaud Lambert, which will make his work easier to follow. Arnaud and his wife Geraldine’s son, Antoine (the little guy in the pictures), is now three years old and charming everyone everywhere, just like his mom and dad.
My time in the Loire was the shortest I’ve spent there in years, and it was sad to go so quickly.