In the spring of 2014, Burgundy was buzzing with rumours of an audacious purchase of Domaine des Lambrays and its historic eight-and-a-half-hectare Grand Cru, Clos des Lambrays. The jungle drums proved to be spot on, and it was soon announced that Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group were the proud new owners of not just one of Morey-St-Denis’ great vineyards, but one of the real treasures of the entire Côte de Nuits.
LVMH took their time to find the right man to reinvigorate the estate. Incumbent regisseur, the charming and lovely Thierry Brouin, had done a grand job since taking on the role back in 1980 but was ready for retirement. Then, in 2019, LVMH found their Pep Guardiola, the hugely talented and quietly ambitious, Jacques Devauges. With license to do whatever was needed, Jacques was the man chosen to take the estate to the heights history had proven it had the potential to reach.
Working organically (now biodynamically since the 2020 vintage), Jacques immediately sought a more parcellaire, deconstructed approach to the main wine, the virtual monopole of the Clos. Having tasted some startingly beautiful vintages from the first quarter of the 20th century, Jacques was convinced that the secret to making a great Clos des Lambrays was bringing together all the nuance and individual character from the distinctive lieu-dits within the Clos; mini plots that varied in height, exposition, soil make up, drainage, temperature and vine age. Here was the ultimate example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Referencing its halcyon days, Jacques divided up the Clos into 12 different plots, all of which he vinified separately, allowing him to see the subtle variations that these plots could produce. And then, like an artisanal mechanic rebuilding a perfectly tuned engine, he pieced back together each crucial element to create a blend that would purr enticingly in the glass.
Jacques is not only a talented, creative visionary, but he was clearly also born under a lucky star. Only in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that he would be blessed with an inaugural vintage of such beautiful quality. Whilst frustratingly small in size, 2019 is a classic in the making. As we have discussed at length already, the best wines of this vintage have a balance of rare concentration and vitality. These are Pinots of depth, complexity, intensity and purity. And, quite simply, Jacques’ contributions to this irresistible vintage are truly wonderful. And the Clos itself is an orchestral masterpiece, conducted by a true maestro.
We are both honoured and thrilled in equal measure to have been appointed the Domaine’s Key Partner here in the UK. Obviously, allocating these wines is going to be a huge challenge, such is the likely demand in the face of such small volumes, but what an exciting challenge it will be, and we hope that we can find you the bottles you are after. This is very much the beginning of an enthralling new chapter at the domaine. We were one of the lucky few who found a big enough window in the 2020 lockdowns in both the UK and France to get to the domaine to assess the wines. We were genuinely blown away by what we tasted. Those critics who were also able to taste, seem to have had similar experiences. Praise has been heaped upon these 2019s and, at the risk of flirting with a little pretension, this feels very much like the start of a journey all Burgundy lovers will want to be on.