Les Chesnaies (Pascal Lambert)

pascal and beatrice in vines

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes at Les Chesnaies? who makes the wines?

Pascal and Beatrice Lambert are a husband and wife team who have built this estate quite literally from the ground up.  Pascal is a jovial, broad shouldered ex Rugby player who obsesses over the health of his soils and the elegance of his wines.  Beatrice runs the business side of things, along with their home: an invitation to lunch is not to be missed.   The winery connects with their house which abuts one of their vineyards.  Everything they do is geared towards making the domain a success, and they are doing a lot of things well.

Pascal is in charge of the cellar, produces a range of vastly different wines from just two grapes.  The key is in the diversity of the soil types in and around Chinon which offer the chance to show very different sides of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc depending on the soil types where they grow.

Les Chesnaies (Pascal Lambert) in the vines

Les Chesnaies (Pascal Lambert) in the vines

what wines do they make at Les Chesnaies?

Red wines at Les Chesnaies range from the light bodied, fruit forward Les Terrasses, made with no oak, minimal extraction to the deeper and more age worthy single vineyard wines called Cuvée Danaé and Cuvée Marie.  These two are produced in much the same way that long lived Bordeaux are in that tannin and color are pulled from the grape skins through long maceration and the resulting wine then spends 18 to 30 months in barrel before release.

Chenin Blanc is fermented dry and made to age, developing in barrel before release.  The result is La Rochette, a wine to pair with food if ever we’ve seen one: it’s layers are such that while it is fun to drink on it’s own, the wine sings if enjoyed next to roast chicken and mushrooms, braised pork, or harder aged cheeses.

Les Terrasses

 

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when did Les Chesnaies start? when might you open a bottle?

Pascal and Beatrice literally drove onto the property in a camper van in 1987.  Pascal’s family has long been making wine in the same town, but there was not room in that business for him to strike out on his own.  Since that time, they have constructed the winery, their own home, and a thriving business.

Lambert and his parents in the vineyard

where is Les Chesnaies?

Chinon is in the heart of the Loire Valley.  The city sits up above the river and the appellation stretches from the  banks to the top of a line of hills on the northern shore.  The result is more diversity in soil type than is often recognized.  Les Chesnaies includes parcels near the water that produce vibrant, light fruit for “Les Terrasses” and others that sit high on the hill and yield deep, dark Cabernet Franc that seems born to age slowly and gracefully.  The winery sits in the commune of “Cravant les Coteaux” to the north east of the city center.
Les Chesnaies (Pascal Lambert), Loire Valley

Les Chesnaies (Pascal Lambert), Loire Valley

why is Les Chesnaies a Candid Wine? why might you want a taste?

We met Pascal and Beatrice as we were starting the company, and their elegant 2002’s seduced us from the start.  Those wines showed how balanced Cabernet Franc can be simply delicious on it’s own.  More than a decade later, the Lambert’s continue to produce noble wines with a peasant’s heart.  They are real, direct, honest people and their wines reflect their personalities.

We’d suggest that if you are not familiar with good Cabernet Franc, i.e. wines from this region that are neither green nor under ripe that you might want to try something from Les Chesnaies, especially if it has a few years of age on it.  We hope your view of this wonderful, like the views of so many of our customers, will be changed by Pascal and Beatrice’s good work. 

Harvesting

how is the wine made at Les Chesnaies?

Pascal’s encourages life in the soil and among his vines at every turn with the goal of harvesting ripe, balanced grapes year in and year out.  In a region with uneven vintages, this is particularly important.  Pascal believes that healthier vines have deeper roots and a greater ability to withstand drought and malady than those treated with chemicals.

In the winery, there are two distinct styles of wines made, but all wines are fermented with native yeasts and interventions are minimal.  The fruit forward Rosé, “Mathilde” and the lighter red, “Les Terrasses” are the result of minimal contact with the skins and lighter fruit to begin with.  Cuvées Danaé and Marie undergo extended maceration and are aged in barrel until they are ready to be released. 

Sorting Grapes at Lambert

Sorting Grapes at Lambert