Clos des Lambrays
Clos des Lambrays is one of Morey-St-Denis' four Grands Crus, owned almost entirely by Domaine des Lambrays. This domaine is mainly known for its eponymous wine, although it also has holdings in Morey-St-Denis village land and in Puligny-Montrachet as well. However, Domaine Taupenot-Merme also owns a few rows, which prohibits Domaine des Lambrays from labeling their wines as monopoles.
At approximately 21.8 acres, the vineyard is fairly large to be owned by a single owner, but the domaine of the same name indeed has all but 0.4 acres. Only 17.4 acres are actually used, however, as a few are unsuitable for great wine production. The annual production is close to 3,000 cases, also fairly large for such an exclusively labeled wine.
The wine is considered to be a prime example of Pinot Noir, and competes with the other Morey-St-Denis Grands Crus. One way in which it can be considered excellent is price: many great Grands Crus from Burgundy cost $200 or more, but in order to compete with the other Grands Crus, Domaine des Lambrays prices this wine at around $100-$120 per bottle. To be sure, the pedigree is not as high, but the complexity and ageability offered by this wine make it truly worthy of Grand Cru level, and as such, a good relative value.
Like many of these Grands Crus, and especially the "Clos" wines, Clos des Lambrays has a long and interesting history. It was founded in 1365 by the Abbey of Citeaux, which was heavily involved in winemaking at the time. But after the French Revolution, ownership was split up, and the vineyard became less reliable. Quality fluctuated for centuries.
During the 1800s, the vineyard essentially became a monopole, and became known as high-quality. But when the appellations were created in the 1930s, the vineyard had fallen on hard times, and it was not given Grand Cru status. It didn't take long for the vineyard to get back on its feet, but it was not recognized until 1981 as a Grand Cru vineyard.
Climate and Viticulture
Clos des Lambrays spans a variety of climate, but the somewhat steeply sloped vineyard actually has the most radical slope of all the Morey Grands Crus. The soil is a combination that helps the wine achieve variety of flavor, running from rocky red soil at the top of the slope to deeply concentrated clay banks toward the base of the hill. The amazing depth of this soil keeps all Clos des Lambrays vintages concentrated and intense, and sharp minerals keep the wine precise.
- Pinot Noir: Domaine des Lambrays uses only Pinot Noir for their red wine, as does Domaine Taupenot-Merme. See the individual producers for the characteristics of these wines.
- Domaine des Lambrays: The titular wine of both Clos des Lambrays and the domaine itself, this grand cuvée epitomizes the flavors that Morey-St-Denis' clay-rich, rocky soil is capable of. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, it combines all the best Morey flavors and is distinctively deeper than even the best Morey Premier Cru wines. Fruit flavors include black cherry and raspberry, as well as other dark fruit characteristics such as plum, olive, and even blueberry. But this is essentially a soil-driven style, with the underbrush evident in the wine mingling with herbs, pepper, and dark spices. It is an exceptionally concentrated, intense wine, but somehow kept vibrant and precise by an underlying mineral core. Drinking young is tempting; it is probably fine to do so in weaker vintages, while 2005s and 2007s, say, need aging to show their best character. Due to a poor pedigree in prior years, the wines are still a relative bargain at $100-$200.
Clos des Lambrays does have three administrative subdivisions, but for wine labeling purposes the single label is always recognizable.