Today we are delighted to release Clos des Lambrays 2018, a Burgundian aristocrat and one of the oldest and most admired Grand Crus in Burgundy. In 2018 Clos de Lambrays has produced an outstanding wine, one of their finest ever, surpassing 2017 and on par with 2010, 2015 and 2016. It is certainly a wine to secure in 2018, awarded 93-95+ from William Kelley of The Wine Advocate, who describes it as being ‘full-bodied, multidimensional and elegant, with refined structuring tannins, lively acids and good concentration… it’s very nicely balanced and seems set to rank as the finest rendition of this quasi-monopole since at least 2015.’ This high praise is echoed by Neal Martin of Vinous Media, who awards it 93-95 points. These scores suggest a great future for the 2018 and that is it a vintage not to be missed. The release price today is £1,195 per case of six.
Clos des Lambrays has long been considered a jewel in the crown of the Cote d’Or and in 2014 it was purchased by LVMH for an estimated 100 million euros. This resulted in Clos de Lambrays becoming their flagship Burgundy estate, joining the luxury portfolio of Cheval Blanc, Chateau d’Yquem, Dom Perignon and Krug. Clos des Lambrays is sited next to Clos de Tart, which separates it on the Chambolle-Musigny border and Bonnes Mares. It is a Clos, meaning it is enclosed within a wall. It is also nearly a monopole, a vineyard owned 100% by one owner. However, Domaine Taupenot Merme, own a minuscule 0.18 ha segment, which produces around 200 bottles. Clos des Lambrays produces 2,500 cases per year, it is hugely popular and sees strong global demand. It currently experiences 40% of its sales in France, which speaks volumes, with 60% exported to 38 countries. With the LVMH marketing budget and luxury goods savoir-faire we can expect distribution to strengthen and prices to continue rising. Today’s release price of £1,195 per case of six will look inexpensive over the course of the next decade, as LVMH drive the global cachet of this great vineyard to new levels.
Domaine des Lambrays dates back to the 14th Century, famously sited in the deeds of Citeaux Abbey in 1365. It was broken up during the French Revolution and re-formed in 1868, under the hard work of negociant Louis Joly. By 1930 it was viewed as a leading vineyard, yet it did not seek Grand Cru status, it is said, due to then owner Renee Cosson not wanting to incur increased taxes. Despite being surrounded by Grand Cru vineyards it remained 1er Cru and it was neglected until 1966 when it was bought by the Freund family. The 8.8 hectare vineyard became Grand Cru in 1981, thereon becoming the largest Grand Cru parcel in Burgundy owned by one proprietor.
The superb renaissance in the estate is largely attributed to Thierry Brouin who took over in 1979. He began by uprooting a quarter of the vineyard and replanting it, while also modernising the estate. He runs the vineyard as close to the organic line as he feels possible, with the absolute minimum intervention and even ploughing the soil with a horse. Boris Champy produced the 2017 vintage in tandem with Thierry Brouin and in 2018, it was Champy who has vinified it. The young vines are downgraded to Morey St. Denis 1er Cru, while the average age of the vines are currently 40 years. Brouin favours fruit freshness, as such the Clos is one of the earliest to harvest. Today, the wine sees 50% new oak, for 16-18 months.
LVMH acquired the estate from Ruth Freund, following the death of her husband Gunter Freund in 2010. This kept one of the Cote d’Or’s most beautiful climates together, which otherwise would likely have been divided. LVMH have nothing but praise for Brouin and he will continue to be the winemaker there, continuing his 35-year reign. The future is very bright and it is worth securing first tranche allocations for the years to come. We have limited quantities, so this is sold subject to availability.