From A to Z
Abbey of Cîteaux
Clos des Lambrays appears in history, named as “Cloux des Lambrey” in February 1365 in a property certificate by Cîteaux Abbey. It is the very first reference to the Clos in the archives’ fund. The role of the Abbey is designing the Bourgogne terroirs is key. The Abbey used to own wide vineyards around the villages of Gilly and Vougeot as well as in the rest of the “Côtes”. It used to be the heart of Bourgogne’s influence and radiance. Along the Middle-Age, the Clos was under the alliegance of Cîteaux. The Domaine des Lambrays owns the most ancient sign of oldness among all LVMH Maisons.
Bouchots, Larrey (aka Larrets) and other Meix-Rentiers
These names are given to three lieux-dits or places composing the whole Clos des Lambrays Climat. The word “Larrey” is the easiest to find out. On old maps and land registers of the XIXth century, we find this name on some plots of vines within the Clos. Larrey means slope, flank, the side of the hill on which the vine rows are planted. The Bouchots are located at the North and at the border of the Clos and the Meix-Rentier at the foothill. Those three “lieux-dits” testify from the topographical diversity of the Clos, giving birth to one and single wine.
After the vine, the cellar is the most important place of the estate. There is a little and a big cellar, also know as the young and the old ones. A stairway leads first the “big” cellar where and wines sleep in a handful of barrels. This one is more recent than the small cellar as it dates back to the XVIIth century. In the background, beyond the gate, lies the estate’s memory, its wine library. A century of vintages is stored here. A narrow porch gives way to the oldest cellar from the XVIth century. During World War II, it was bricked up to protect the wines from the occupying forces and re-opened much later. Wines are aged in those underground vaulted/arched cellars. Sometime you may be invited within to taste new wines by the barrel… Some happy few can be offered an old bottle, without any label.
Côte de Nuits
Bourgogne is worldwide famous for its succession of slopes. They build and shape the landscape from Dijon to Mâcon. People from Nuits-Saint-Georges cherish their slope, a narrow piece of land bordered by the national road #74. It is planted with vines on 20 km in length and is 500 to 600 m wide. This slope is a pilgrimage destination for Bourgogne wine lovers who wander from village to village among plots of vines called Climats and bearing poetic and famous names. In Morey the slope is nicknamed the “mountain” because it culminates at 472 m. Indeed, it is more a series of hills topped by thin woods and split by a protecting valley. In cold days, this valley protects the vines from frost attacks. Clos des Lambrays, de Tart, de la Roche, Saint-Denis… Morey-St-Denis is definitely a land of clos.
We must confess we don’t know much about the origins and the meaning of the name Lambrays. Some say that archivists have found evidence of the existence of a family named Lambreys as early as the XIIIth century. Above all, Lambrays is the name of the eponymous plot of vine, located at the heart of the current Clos. The unique name of Lambrays is early used for the whole of the property. On a 1879 map, the plot is mentioned as the “Pièce des Lambrays”. The very first labels with the name Lambrays dates back to the end of the XIXth century. Since 1938 at least, the expression “Clos des Lambrays” was used permanently. On specific label glorifies the name: a drawing by artist Hansi, inspired by the heraldic style he cherished.
Three old barrel, that have acquired a patina of time, are located in the rear of the XVIIIth century cellar. Within ages for a few years the spirit of the Domaine, the so-called fine. During this period, the eau-de-vie takes its colour from the oak, its aromas become more refined and complex. The special guests of the Domaine are invited to taste it by the end of a meal where the Lambrays wines were drunk one after the other. We are proud to perpetuate a typical almost vanished Bourgogne tradition.
For a long time, there was no use giving an official status to Clos des Lambrays to refer to its quality and greatness. Its name was self-sufficient. Nevertheless are its past and current fame proclaimed when Clos des Lambrays becomes the last but not least of the 33 Grands Crus of Bourgogne. It definitely part of the elite. During the last two centuries, many mentions to Clos des Lambrays as de facto, if not de jure, grand cru have been accumulated. For example in the list by Dr Lavalle as early as 1855. In the book by Camille Rodier, the Clos received the qualification of tête de cuvée in line with its neighbours Clos de Tart and Bonnes Mares. Of course Rodier was the owner of the Clos at that time, but his legitimacy is undeniable. In a more prosaïc way, the Treasury gives equivalent status to “all the other growths from the K category, among which Clos de Tart and Richebourg.”
Yes the garden is classified as terroir not as heritage… this peaceful, gorgeous 5,000m2 wide garden, hidden by a heavy gate, may have become a premier cru. It could have become a vineyard producing a few more barrels of wine.
The wolves of Morey
The wolves that haunt the Côte-de-Nuits are the inhabitants of Morey-Saint-Denis, also named the Morétains. You will find them of the village’s as well as on the Estate’s blazon. It is also the name of our premier cru. Morey-Saint-Denis gives red wines from Pinot noir, with very few exceptions. In this Village-appellation there are five grands crus and four clos. From North to South, Clos de la Roche, bordering the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, then Clos Saint-Denis; in the heart of the village are Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart, side-by-side and a small part of Bonnes Mares, shared with the village of Chambolle-Musigny.
Land : ups and downs
From Middle-Age unity to progressive unification, the Clos des Lambrays has passed through periods of break down and consolidation.The ideal of a whole unit has been shared by the different owners. The Clos des Lambrays is indeed a unique example in Bourgogne’s history.
Following the French Revolution, the Clos des Lambrays as we know it today, starts to be divided. In the mid-XIXth century, there are more than 70 different owners ! Extremely atomized, the Clos is in the same situation as most of Bourgogne vineyards. And this diminishes the identity and the fame of its wines. Within the Domaine, some maps help understand how the vineyards evolved in time. 1879 is the year of a first consolidation of plots of vines. The new owner, Albert Rodier, has acquired a surface of 8ha 15a 81ca as a whole. Nevertheless this vineyard is not the same delimited area as the current Clos des Lambrays as it expanded through both « lieux-dits », « Les Larrets» and « Les Bouchots » but excluded « Le Mieux Rentier ».
The narrow piece of land that extends from Dijon to Beaune is a wine country since the Dukes of Bourgogne. In July 2015, it joined the list of World Heritage UNESCO classified sites, as a recognition of its exceptional and universal value. Indeed you are in an estate that belong to this World Heritage.
« Object of an exclusive, passionate, excessive devotion, this vine has long been out of time. » This is the Clos des Lambrays is introduced in a historical book by Charles Quintanson dating back to the 1980s. The different owners have all shown a deep attachment to the Clos.
In 1836 we encounter the track of a Nuits-St-Georges wine merchant who purchased the Clos because he admired its wines. In 1866 Albert and Camille Rodier, also wine merchants, acquired the jewel. The Rodiers are a family of influence in Bourgogne at the beginning of the XXth century. Camille co-founded the Brotherhood of Chevaliers du Tastevin. He wrote a few important books on Bourgogne great wines. Albert Rodier transmitted the estate to Renée Cosson.
In 1979 the brothers Fabien and Louis Saier purchased the Lambrays in cooperation with Roland Pelletier de Chambure, a Bourgogne native racehorse breeder. Those three men shared their admiration for the Lambrays terroir and wines. They were committed to improve the fame of the estate. Their mission consisted in replacing the missing vines, in respecting the old vines, in maintaining the dried-stones walls around the vines and in renewing the garden as well as the house. The failure of the Saiers’ business leads the Clos des Lambrays close to bankruptcy in 1992. Thanks to the manager’s resoluteness and its clients’s and supplier’s loyalty, the worst scenario is avoided.
Touched by the beauty of the place as well as the quality of the wines, a couple of German entrepreneurs, the Freunds, acquired the estate. Every year they spent a few months in the house to take part to the key moments of the vine lifecycle. When Günter Freund died, LVMH showed interest in the Domaine. The group cultivates excellency in vine growing and wine making in France and in the world. When it acquired the Domaine des Lambrays in 2014, LVMH settled in Bourgogne for the first time.