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.

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2019 Vintage

The cooler weather following an earlier than usual bud break at the beginning of April, resulted in a difficult flowering in June and really set the blueprint for the size of the harvest that would follow three months later. The beautiful weather into July was gorgeous for the tourists but stifled the maturation process slightly and kept the berries on the small side throughout their time on the vine. Rainfall in early August was welcome but very localised. Luckily, Morey enjoyed a decent watering, preventing any hydric stress, but thereafter warm weather and warming breezes dehydrated the grapes to the extent that their juice content became very limited. When the harvest began in Morey on 13th September this proved to be great for quality but somewhat challenging for volume! The Clos itself recorded just 15 hectolitres per hectare;  less than half of what it had done the previous year. Even the 1er Cru and village plots fared little better, just scraping into the twenties.

In terms of vinification, Jacques was able to be very delicate, with colours and beautiful tannins coming easily, with little extra encouragement needed. He kept 80% of the stems in the Clos, adding freshness and structure, and of the few barrels he was able to fill (!) 60% were new. Elevage was extended to about 19 months (Thierry often used to bottle just before the harvest) allowing the various components of the wine to marry and integrate in the most complete fashion. The results are spectacular.

White wines

2019 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières

£630 IB · 6x75cl

This was one of two excellent Puligny 1er Cru parcels acquired back in 1993 from Domaine Charton. Folatières lies almost on the same plane as Chevalier and Montrachet in the central part of the appellation but stretches higher up the slope. Both vineyards were picked on 7th September, which was quite early for the vintage, resulting in both pH and alcohol readings remaining at sensible levels. This shows very well, with some appealing underlying reductive elements jostling for position with stony, salty flavours that are energized by a good level of dry extract. Intense, yet well marshalled. 20% new oak. Drink from 2022

2019 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos du Caillerets

£798 IB · 6x75cl

An undeniable step up, as one would expect from this virtual extension of Montrachet itself. Aromatically it is more intense and its evident concentration in the mouth is veiled somewhat by the delicious, chalky austerity that runs through its core. Stony and vibrant, with a lovely flow throughout and an impressive sense of classicism. As was the case for the Folatières, yields were, sadly, down around 40%. 20% new oak. Drink from 2023

Red wines

2019 Morey-St Denis

£360 IB · 6x75cl

This is a seriously good village wine. Jacques did not keep any stems on this cuvée and didn’t do any pigeage at all, allowing the extraction to happen unforced. And as was so often the case in 2019, the wine gave up its heart with little sufferance. The malo finished quite quickly and was done by Christmas and the wine saw 20% new oak. It is such a well-proportioned wine, showing gorgeously intense fragrance on the nose and in the mouth. Mineral and energetic throughout with real harmony and balance. Quite delightful. Drink from 2025

 

2019 Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru Les Loups

£540 IB · 6x75cl

This is a definitive Morey, bursting with spice, fragrance and seduction. It is a blend of the 1ers Crus of La Riotte and the confusingly-named Le Village with the addition of the young vines (around 20 years old) of Le Clos. It’s impossible not to be taken in by its flirtatious character, enhanced by the use of 50% whole bunch. The fruits are quite dark, yet the flavours are lovely with hints of lifted blueberries ripened to perfection. The whole bunch adds a crack of peppery freshness that allows the perfumed florality to stretch its legs. Much to enjoy here. Drink from 2026

2019 Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru

It seems remarkable, given its geographically positioning sandwiched between the Morey Grands Crus of Clos de Tart, Clos St Denis and Clos de la Roche, that the Clos was only officially upgraded to a Grand Cru itself in 1981. Previously, it had had its heyday back in the 1920s and 30s when it produced a number of highly regarded vintages. But then, it subsequently suffered neglect under new ownership during and in the years following the Second World War. The turn around began in 1979 when the estate was sold, and Thierry Brouin was appointed regisseur. And now, here we are with the release of the 2019, potentially the finest post war vintage made at the domaine. We tasted through a number of different lieu-dits that Jacques had kept separate during the vinification and élevage processes, before tasting the final blend. Each component seems to have brought something unique and very special to the finished wine. Jacques kept around 80% of whole bunches and used a mix of 60% new oak and 40% one year old oak. It’s a wine of great composure and refinement, the quality of tannins being particularly impressive; understated, silky and supportive. Notes from the individual plots were varied and exciting. ‘Amazing florality’, ‘exotic spice’, ‘great purity’, ‘cool, ice cream fruit’, ‘controlled’, ‘structured’, ‘great depth’, ‘small berry intensity, ‘power’. All these elements are in this wine so it’s little wonder that it thrills the palate from start to finish. A very complete wine indeed. Bravo Jacques. Drink from 2029

‘There is a serene weight to this with waves of detail… I am not going to say that Jacques has gone straightaway back to the great vintages of the 20s and 30s, but there is very considerable promise here.’

Jasper Morris, 93-97 pts

‘This has an intense bouquet, initially very tightly wound and requiring aeration, gradually revealing predominantly black fruit, crushed limestone, graphite and pressed iris flower aromas. Very fine delineation but certainly aromatics that will require bottle age. The palate confirms this. It is very fresh on the entry with a subtle influence of the stems. This balletic, “Margot Fonteyne of Morey-Saint-Denis”, will pirouette across your senses.’

Neal Martin, 95-97 pts

‘This is very promising indeed, mingling scents of blood orange, wild berries and plums with notions of exotic spices, wilted rose petals, raw cocoa and loamy soil. Full bodied, velvety and layered, it’s deep and multidimensional, with a concentrated, elegantly fleshy core, lively acids, largely concealed tannins and a precise perfumed finish.’

William Kelley, 94-96 pts

It seems remarkable, given its geographically positioning sandwiched between the Morey Grands Crus of Clos de Tart, Clos St Denis and Clos de la Roche, that the Clos was only officially upgraded to a Grand Cru itself in 1981. Previously, it had had its heyday back in the 1920s and 30s when it produced a number of highly regarded vintages. But then, it subsequently suffered neglect under new ownership during and in the years following the Second World War. The turn around began in 1979 when the estate was sold, and Thierry Brouin was appointed regisseur. And now, here we are with the release of the 2019, potentially the finest post war vintage made at the domaine. We tasted through a number of different lieu-dits that Jacques had kept separate during the vinification and élevage processes, before tasting the final blend. Each component seems to have brought something unique and very special to the finished wine. Jacques kept around 80% of whole bunches and used a mix of 60% new oak and 40% one year old oak. It’s a wine of great composure and refinement, the quality of tannins being particularly impressive; understated, silky and supportive. Notes from the individual plots were varied and exciting. ‘Amazing florality’, ‘exotic spice’, ‘great purity’, ‘cool, ice cream fruit’, ‘controlled’, ‘structured’, ‘great depth’, ‘small berry intensity, ‘power’. All these elements are in this wine so it’s little wonder that it thrills the palate from start to finish. A very complete wine indeed. Bravo Jacques. Drink from 2029

‘There is a serene weight to this with waves of detail… I am not going to say that Jacques has gone straightaway back to the great vintages of the 20s and 30s, but there is very considerable promise here.’

Jasper Morris, 93-97 pts

‘This has an intense bouquet, initially very tightly wound and requiring aeration, gradually revealing predominantly black fruit, crushed limestone, graphite and pressed iris flower aromas. Very fine delineation but certainly aromatics that will require bottle age. The palate confirms this. It is very fresh on the entry with a subtle influence of the stems. This balletic, “Margot Fonteyne of Morey-Saint-Denis”, will pirouette across your senses.’

Neal Martin, 95-97 pts

‘This is very promising indeed, mingling scents of blood orange, wild berries and plums with notions of exotic spices, wilted rose petals, raw cocoa and loamy soil. Full bodied, velvety and layered, it’s deep and multidimensional, with a concentrated, elegantly fleshy core, lively acids, largely concealed tannins and a precise perfumed finish.’

William Kelley, 94-96 pts