Domaine des Lambrays: hitting fresh heights with a new cellar and some new wines, plus two gems from the 1930s


It’s rare to get a chance to taste through so many wines from a top Burgundy producer in one sitting, but this is what a group of us were treated to at a tasting focusing on Domaine des Lambrays new releases, with some older wines thrown in. These were presented by estate manager Jacques Devauges.

Jacques Devauges, who has been running things here since 1999

It’s a historical domaine next to Clos du Tart in Morey-Saint-Denis dating back to the 14th century. It was purchased in 2014 by the Arnault family and is now part of the LVMH group.

Morey-St-Denis is a small village, with 94 hectares of vines, plus five Grand Crus – Clos de Tart, Bonnes Mares, Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint-Denis, Clos des Lambrays. This compares with Gevrey Chambertin at 408 hectares plus 9 Grand Crus. The Morey-St-Denis village level vineyards are normally at the bottom of the slope with deep clay and lots of soil, but Lambrays have two parcels of village vines at the top of the slope, with limestone soils and a cool microclimate, and this is where their village Morey-St-Denis comes from.

Lambrays is a red wine domaine, with 85% of their wines coming from Morey-St-Denis. But the whites are important to them, even though they are just 4% of production.

The earliest extant record of Clos des Lambrays is in the Archives of the Abbey of Cîteaux, showing that it was founded around 1365. After the revolution, the clos became fragmented and in 1936 when the first AOC in the region was implemented, it was recorded as a premier cru. From the 1930s until the 1980s, owner Camille Rodier made it his project to gather back together all the bits of the clos, eventually persuading the INAO to grant the reformed clos Grand Cru status in 1981.

The current clos is 99.6% owned by Lambrays. It is triangular in shape and has a difference in elevation of 60 m from the top to the bottom. It is east-facing but far from uniform, with undulations, and some parts with red clay, other parts with brown, and different sized limestone stones in different areas. Unusually, the rows are perpendicular to the slope, to help fight erosion. This row orientation also helps protect the developing bunches from direct sun.

70% of the clos was planted between 1898 and 1935 and has an extraordinary genetic heritage. The soils have never been worked by modern machines.

2019 saw the vineyards go organic, and in the following year they began farming biodynamically. The winemaking approach also changed, with 11 different plots identified and vinified separately. Previously, wines were made in 8400 litre tanks, so they needed to overhaul the winery to deal with smaller lots, and this new build began in 2020.

Winemaking movements are by gravity, from grape to bottle. There are two tanks that can move up and down, eliminating the need for pumping. The problem with pumping is cavitation, with the disturbance of dissolved gas. They have eliminated this by using gravity.

In June 2022 it was ready, so the 2022 vintage was the first made here. This is a special vintage for other reasons, too. It’s the year that their range has grown from five wines to nine, so there are four new wines here.

[The notes on the 2022s are all from bottled wines, with the exception of the Clos and its components, which are cask samples.]

Domaine des Lambrays Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières 2022
Since 1993 they’ve owned 0.3 of this, the largest Puligny 1er Cru at 17 hectares. They have 14 rows going from the bottom to the top, giving them a range of terroirs to play with. The bottom is brown soil and the top is pale marne. It’s 216 m long. Taut nose with fine spices and some lime and mineral characters, as well as subtle mealy notes. The palate is textural and fine. Midweight with soft pear and peach notes, but also some keen spicy citrus fruit. Mineral and finely textured. 94/100

Domaine des Lambrays Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de Cailleret 2022
This is just above Pucelles and is sandwiched between Bienvenue Batard Montrachet and Clavoillon, 150 m from Folatières. The name refers to the small limestone pebbles in the soil. Taut notes of crystalline citrus fruit with a hint of orange peel. The palate has nice tension with mineral detail and also an innate richness. Notes of citrus and white peach, with power, precision and intensity. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 2022
From two plots at the top of the village with bony limestone soils and correspondingly low yields. Supple, fresh nose of bright red cherries with some sappiness. Nice weight on the palate with supple fresh raspberry and cherry fruit with a little polish. Bright and pure with a sense of finesse and lots of pleasure. 93/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru ‘Les Loups’ 2022
This is from three parcels (different premier crus) co-fermented. The plots are clay-rich at the bottom of the slope. Ripe and sweetly aromatic on the nose, leading to a rich, ripe, spice-laden palate with concentrated but fine cherry and berry fruits, with sweet fruit but also good tannic structure from the clay. 94/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos Baulet 2022
This is the smallest 1er Cru in Morey at 0.87 ha. They own 0.3 which was previously part of the domaine, had been sold, and then was bought back in 2022. Deep brown conglomerate rock, deposited here in the ice age. Very fine aromatics: floral and finely spiced with sweet red cherries and a nice core of raspberry. Shows good density but also delicacy with fine spicy notes and hints of cinnamon and even garrigue. Beautiful focus, balance and precision, and with good tannin this should age well. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos Sorbè 2022
Just over the road from Clos Baulet, this is a 3.3 ha vineyard of which they have 1.15 ha. Again, this was part of the domaine, got sold, and was bought back in 2022. They clay here is red (in Baule it is brown) and there is bioclastic limestone just 50 cm below the surface. This wine shows a wide dynamic range: it’s vibrant and bright with red cherry and redcurrant fruit, showing some perfume and floral notes. On the palate the fruit is ripe but also focused. Juicy, textural and fine grained with nice precision, and hints of liquorice and redcurrant. 96/100

Domaine des Lambrays Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts 2022
This is from the northern part of Vosne with a great view over the village. 0.45 ha with a warm, sunny microclimate, but the elevation offsets the heat. They purchased this in 2021 and made just 1.5 barrels in this frost-affected year, and in 2022 have made 5 barrels. California meets Burgundy. Concentrated with sweet ripe, luscious black cherry and blackberry fruit. There’s some florality here but also lush elegance, with good balance to the fruit. Offers real pleasure, and doesn’t have much structure. But it’s beautiful and expressive. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru La Richemont 2022
This is a 1.92 ha 1er Cru, of which Lambrays have 0.9 ha. Theirs are the oldest vines, planted in 1924 with a selection of Pinot Fin, mid-slope. Such a vivid, expressive nose with bright red cherry and berry fruits and some fine spiciness. Alert and vivid. The palate is textured and concentrated, with iodine, spice and minerals. Nice intensity here showing bold raspberry and cherry fruit with lovely definition and a grippy finish. 96/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru ‘Plante Bas’ 2022
This is a cask sample of one of the plot selections from the Clos (it is divided into 10 plots), and this goes into the final blend, it isn’t bottled separately. We tried three of these. Complex, vivid, intense nose with sweet black cherry and raspberry fruit. Rich palate with nice intensity showing bold, sweet black cherry fruit with a lot of concentration. There’s some oak, but it’s all harmonious and quite dense. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru ‘Le Cerisier’ 2022
This is on the Clos de Tart side, with 30 cm of top soil and then limestone. Floral, fine and aromatic on the nose with some supple green hints. Remarkable aromatics here: some spice and herbs with nice complexity as well as a silky elegance. 97/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru ‘80 Ouvrées Haut’ 2022
This has a hard limestone bedrock that’s almost marble, with thin top soil. Bright, energetic and precise with fine red cherry fruits. Shows great tension with fresh fruit and a touch of redcurrant brightness, as well as a note of iodine. Linear with finesse and focus. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2022
This is the final blend, a sample from tank. Focused and complete: quite powerful, blending black cherry and plum fruit with good structure and well integrated oak. There are floral notes, but also some savoury spiciness, with a touch of iodine. Grainy, bloody and structured on the palate with sweet fruit intertwined with dynamic complexity. Fine, expressive and polished, but showing elegance. Concentrated but fine. 97/100

Older wines:

Domaine des Lambrays Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières 2020
Complex and layered with sweet citrus and cherry notes as well as a hint of aniseed. This has a fine spicy edge with well integrated oak. Linear and finely spiced. 93/100

Domaine des Lambrays Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de Cailleret 2020
Intense, mineral and concentrated with sweet citrus fruit and some fine spices. There’s a lovely intensity here with good texture and weight. Really expressive showing good concentration and depth. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru ‘Les Loups’ 2021
Fresh and supple with sweet red cherries, some strawberries and nice freshness. There’s a silkiness to this wine, which is supple with a hint of pepper. Expressive. 94/100

Domaine des Lambrays Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru ‘Les Loups’ 2020
Rich and boldly textured with sweet, spicy notes. Has lushness and generosity with sweet black cherry fruit and good depth. Generous and ripe. 94/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2021
Sappy and detailed with a floral nose, showing green hints and bright cherry fruit. Juicy and fine with nice supple character to the red fruits. This is really fine and expressive with brightness and elegance. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2020
Concentrated and dense with structured, sweet black cherry fruit and some grainy tannins. Ripe, rich and concentrated with a nice savoury graininess under the rich fruit. 94/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays 1938
What a remarkable treat to try two wines from the 1930s. This shows spice and malt with some earthy evolution on the nose, as well as a hint of mushroom. But there are some sweet cherries and plums, as well as a savoury iodine note. Old but very much alive with appealing spicy detail. Very fine. 95/100

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays 1937
This is remarkable. Powerful, rich and concentrated with bold black cherry and blackberry fruit with a hint of saltiness. There are some herbs and spice, and a lovely supple texture with nice grainy structure hiding underneath. Very much still alive and despite its venerable age, it’s delivering a lot of pleasure and much more fruit than I’d have expected. 96/100