Like the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, the identity of the Domaine des Lambrays is tied to a famous vineyard. The Clos des Lambrays, however, has not always been placed at the pinnacle of the Cote d’Or. When the vineyards of Burgundy were classified in 1936, the individual landowners were asked to submit applications for any plots to be considered for grand cru status. The proprietor of the Clos des Lambrays, however, did want to be bothered with the necessary paper work and the vineyard was declared a premier cru. After much debate, the Clos des Lambrays was elevated to the grand cru level in 1981. References to the Clos des Lambrays first appeared in the fourteenth century. Like many of Burgundy’s great vineyards, it was sold by the state after the French revolution and split up. As many as seventy-four individuals purchased a piece of the vineyard, which is 8.84 hectares in total, and it remained fragmented until the twentieth century. Today it is nearly a monopole of the Domaine des Lambrays, but the Domaine Taupenot-Merme owns 420 square meters at the base of the Clos.
A consortium led by the Saier brothers purchased the Domaine des Lambrays in 1979, but by then the Clos was littered with dead or dying vines. A large portion of the vines had to be uprooted and the wines bearing the name of the Clos suffered as a result. Oenologist Terry Brouin was brought on as the Managing Director. Under Monsieur Brouin’s leadership the domaine made drastic improvements and the wines have gradually improved. Recent vintages have begun to live up to their grand cru status and to the legendary reputation the vineyard enjoyed in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
The terroir of the Clos desLambrays is complex. Three separate micro climates are recognized within the Clos. The largest section and the heart of the vineyard, is called either Clos des Lambray or Les Larrets (5.72 ha.). Les Bouchots (1.99 ha.) is the name given to the northern portion of the Clos, while Meix Rentier (1 ha.) occupies the small, southeastern corner. No grand cru in Morey extends as far up the hill and unlike the neighboring climats, the soil in the Clos des Lambrays contains a high percentage of limestone. The resulting wine is profoundly elegant and the pure flavors are underpinned by a strong sense of minerals. Clos des Tart, Lambrays’ famous neighbor to the south, produces a big wine full of red fruits. The wine from the Closdes Lambrays, however, reveals a blue fruit that some believe is the quintessential flavor of Morey.
In addition to the Closdes Lambrays, two other rouge cuvees are produced by the domaine. Les Loups is cuvee made from two premier cru sites, La Riotte and Le Village, and the younger vines in the Clos (50% of the final blend). A basic Morey-Saint-Denis is also bottled and it is classic example of the village. The Lambrays estate expanded slightly in 1993 when it added two parcels in the Cote de Beaune. 0.38 hectares of vines were acquired from the Chartron family in the Puligny-Montrachet premier cru Clos du Caillerets, which is the northern neighbor of Montrachet. The Clos du Caillerets is very stony and its wines bear a strong resemblance to those from Chevalier-Montrachet. Only two barrels are produced of Domaine des Lambrays’s Clos du Caillerets, which is a fragrant, piercing wine of grand cru quality. In the same acquisition, a small plot (.30 ha.) was acquired in Les Folatieres, also a Puligny premier cru. While not as intense or powerful as the Caillerets, the domaine’s Folaiteres is one of finest examples from this vineyard.
The Lambrays estate was sold in 1997 by the Saiers to Ruth and Gunter Freud of Germany, who have continued the commitment to quality. Monsieur Brouin was retained by the Freuds, and he continues to run the domaine in a traditional manner. 80 to 100 percent of the stems are included during the vinification, which takes place at temperatures up to 35 degrees celsius. The wine ages for 18 months in oak barrels, 50% of which are new, and two rackings are done without fining. A light filtration is applied to the wine, but only 5-10%. Each wine released by the domaine is classically styled and of the highest quality. Under the ownership of the Freud family and the skilled winemaking of Terry Brouin, the Domaine des Lambrays is once again a leading estate in Morey-Saint-Denis.