Articles from past issues – a great perk!

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While every review from ALL issues (and thousands more) are in the database and available to subscribers, the informative Progress Report narratives and individual articles are not available unless you have purchased single back issues or have been a subscriber since the beginning (and we do thank those of you who have taken the full journey with us!).

However, we have pulled all of the noteworthy articles and progress reports out of all issues and will post them on a rotating basis in the members’ area for our active subscribers to download and enjoy!

You’ll find great articles to enhance your ongoing Burgundy education such as in-depth Terroir Focus write-ups on Chablis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey St. Denis, Volnay, Marsannay and the Mâconnais. All of Allen’s articles on the topic of pre-mox will be available, and more. Of course we want to help you as together we all continue to navigate the wonderful and complex world of burgundy and we hope this perk will help you on your journey.

These formerly published articles are provided by as a courtesy for active subscribers only.   Subscribers must download these while or available or they are no longer available until they are returned in the rotation.

Examples of the recent PDF’s that have been rotated in for subscribers include:

Premature Oxidation Articles: (An archive of all articles on this topic from all issues).

Articles on Reduction and its Significance:  (An archive of all articles on this topic from all issues).

Progress Report 1:  1992 Corton-Charlemagne, 1988-1998 Musigny Vertical, 17 Vintages of Marquis d’Angerville’s Clos des Ducs, 16 Vintages of Clos des Lambrays, 16 Vintages of Clos des Lambrays, 1959-2000 Clos des Perrières Vertical, 16 Vintages of La Tâche, 1962-1998, 16 Vintages of La Tâche, 1962-1998, Head to Head – Chambertin vs. Clos de Bèze – 117 Wines from 1919 to 1999, Montrachet at Montrachet in NYC 35 Wines from 1939 to 2000

Progress Report 2: A Complete History of Joseph Drouhin’s Les Petits Monts 1985 to 2001; 36 Vintages of La Tâche from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, 1923-2000; A Complete History of Cros Parantoux, 70 Wines, 1970-2000 – Domaine Henri Jayer, Domaine Méo-Camuzet and Domaine Emmanuel Rouget; Ten Decades of La Romanée –31 Vintages, 1915-2002; 1997 Vintage Recap – Where are the Wines Today?; High End Domestic Pinot – Good, Bad or just Different?; Meursault “Perrières” from Domaines Coche-Dury, Comtes Lafon and Guy Roulot; Forty Wines of Henri-Jayer’s Richebourg – 19 Wines, 1957-1987; A 25 Wine Retrospective of the 1952 and 1953 Vintages; Ten Decades of Romanée St. Vivant – 37 Vintages, 135 Wines, 1911-2001; Domaine J.-F. Mugnier Musigny Vertical, 15 Wines – 1985-2001; Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg Echézeaux Vertical – 11 Wines, 1953-2000; Domaine Comte de Vogüé 65 Wine Retrospective; and Two Maison Louis Jadot Verticals: 10 Vintages of Chevalier des Demoiselles and Musigny

Progress Report 3:  A Series of Six Special Tastings from Maison Bouchard Père et Fils – 86 Wines from 1846-2003, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echézeaux Vertical – 20 Vintages, 1937-2002, On the Sixes – 115 Wine Retrospective, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996; and a Trek to La Tour d’Argent, A Richebourg Vertical from Domaines Jean and Louis Gros – 13 Wines, 1928-1993, 1966 Musigny Horizontal; and Domaine Georges Roumier Verticals of Bonnes Mares (33 Wines, 32 Vintages) and Musigny (14 Wines, 14 Vintages), A Small Tasting of Martinborough (NZ) Pinots; and Current Release Champagnes and Sparklers, On the Sevens…and a Half – an 86 Wine Retrospective from 1997, 1982, 1962, 1957, 1947, 1937 (plus a few more gems), A 36 Vintage Vertical of La Grand Rue, 1954-2006,

Progress Report 4:  An archive of special reports from issues 31-41). A 52 Wine Retrospective of Domaine Méo-Camuzet; A 35 Vintage Vertical of Clos des Epeneaux, 1864-2002; The Fabulous 1985 Vintage (Two 1985 Tastings – Richebourg plus 21 other Grands Crus); Current Release Champagne; Clos de Tart, An Historic Tasting of 56 Vintages from 1887-2005; 20 Vintages of Clos de Vougeot Vertical from Dr. Georges Mugneret; A mini-Vertical of Maison Bouchard Père et Fils, Chevalier-Montrachet “La Cabotte”; and Domaine Pousse d’Or Vertical Tasting, Ten Vintages for Five Wines, 1999-2008

Progress Report 5:  An archive of special reports form issues 43-49).  A Mini-Horizontal of  Top Wines from the 1971 Vintage; Progress Report 1:  Domaine Faiveley, 10 Vintages of Les Cazetiers and Progress Report 2:  La Tâche Vertical, 20 Vintages from 1979-2006; A Vertical of Marquis d’Angerville Volnay “Clos des Ducs” – 21 Vintages; Verticals of Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne & Meursault “Perrières” and a Mini-Vertical of Meursault “Genevrières”; and Domaine Méo-Caumzet Richebourg – A Complete Retrospective 1985-2006

For a more specific example, here is one of the articles on premox written by Allen in issue 43 in 2011:

A Brief Update on Premature Oxidation

In some ways, it saddens me to think that in the ten and one-half years that has existed, I have been writing about this subject for fully nine of them.  I fervently wish that I could report that a solution to this most vexing of wine problems had been found or even that a potential breakthrough was near.  Unfortunately, I cannot do this.

This is not to say that there is no progress being made, just that it is limited and no one yet knows how definitive it may prove to be.  Worse, the failure rate from vintages already known to be strongly affected such as 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004 has, in my experience, only gone up.  Worse still, I have recently tasted some bad magnums and some distinctly advanced bottles of Coche-Dury, neither of which had I previously encountered.

In terms of what is happening on the ground in Burgundy (and in various wine universities around the world), there are many avenues of research.  While not new in the realm of possibilities, more and more attention is being focused on an anti-oxidant sulfur containing tripeptide occurring in both grape must and wine called glutathione.  It appears that certain farming methods may decrease the natural abundance of glutathione and several of the cutting edge domaines in Burgundy (Lafon and Roulot for example) are working with specialists to see how this problem may be addressed.  Burgundy’s primary trade group, known informally as the B.I.V.B., continues to devote much time and effort to the study and rectification of the problem.

Though I have mentioned it multiple times in these pages, more and more credence is being paid to the possible beneficial effects of different pressing methods as well as the different presses themselves.  Those of you that read the extended premox article that I wrote in Issue 39 may remember that the older presses released a much higher amount of gross lees into the musts and these lees are thought to have significant anti-oxidant qualities.  As such, a few producers are now making wines with both kinds of presses to see what differences might be seen as these wines age.  Patrick Javillier (see herein), who has spent a great deal of time analyzing the premox problem opines that:  “With a Vaselin press [a basket or cage style press that gives relatively thick and heavy lees], the wines are less approachable in their youth while the pneumatic press [which gives much finer lees] gives wines that possess much purer aromatics.”

While both avenues of research may ultimately yield important benefits, the hard fact of the matter remains that buying white burgundy is as risky as it ever was.  Yes, the ameliorative steps taken to date are undoubtedly beneficial on the margin so that the failure rate from 2005 forward will probably be less than the 1995 to 2004 period.  But less bad does not mean good and anyone who is being honest must acknowledge that there is still the risk of encountering corked wines on top of the premox problem.

As I have observed before, there is only one almost foolproof way around the premox problem and that is to drink the wines young, which generally means before their fifth birthdays.  Note that this is not a guarantee as I have had some premox-affected bottles that were less than two years old but thankfully, such examples are rare.  In this sense, the very forward and approachable nature of the 2009 vintage renders it user-friendly as less long-term development potential is being left on the table.

As always, there will be more updates until the premox problem is definitively resolved.

And here is a more specific example – this article is part of Progress Report 1 – 16 Vintages of Clos des Lambrays from issue 4 written in 2001.  In addition to the reviews, is Allen’s informative narrative:

Progress Report:  16 Vintages of Clos des Lambrays – “Is it Truly Back?”

Much has been made of the “return” of Clos des Lambrays in the last few years.  As such, I thought it would be interesting to share with readers my impressions of a retrospective tasting that was held earlier this summer to evaluate how the more recent vintages of Clos des Lambrays stack up against some of the legendary vintages of the past.  I include here, as background information, an essay I prepared previously that eventually will become part of a book I am writing about the wines of Burgundy; all rights are, of course, reserved.

The Clos des Lambrays has existed at least since 1365 and perhaps even before that.  It originally belonged to the Abbey de Citeaux but like many ecclesiastical properties, it was nationalized and auctioned off after the Revolution of 1789 in small parcels to 74 different owners. In 1836, one of the owners, a M. Nicolas Joly, undertook to reunite all the separate parcels and remarkably enough, he nearly succeeded in doing so.  In 1868, Albert Rodier bought the Clos des Lambrays and continued the work of uniting it under one ownership until he had reduced the number of owners to only four, and the other three were barely of consequence.  The Clos remained in the Rodier family’s care until pressing financial concerns prompted the sale of the Clos to the Cosson family in 1938.

Though the vineyard has been celebrated for centuries, Clos des Lambrays did not officially make it to the big leagues of Burgundy until April 1981, when it was finally elevated to grand cru status.  The unfortunate irony is that the vineyard itself had long merited elevation to grand cru status yet when it finally was so recognized, the wines no longer were worthy of that status, and hadn’t been for almost two decades.  The vineyard had gradually fallen into chaos with many sick and dying vines, the cuverie was in considerable disrepair and in general, the years of neglect had finally caught up to an otherwise superb property.  But, help was on the way as two members of the prominent Saier family, Fabien and Louis who ran a successful grocery chain, and a financial partner named Roland de Chambure, finally bought the run-down Domaine in 1979 from the Cosson family.

The Cosson stewardship had unfortunately been less than pragmatic in many respects, which included permitting some vintages to remain in cask much longer than they should have.  More insidious to the long-term quality though, was the failure to replace dead and dying vines, many of which were from the pre-phylloxera era.  Thus when the Saier group finally took control, they discovered that money alone would be insufficient to resurrect the once magnificent property to its former glory.  That such a restoration project would require money, and a lot of it, was a given. What surprised the partnership was just how long it would take to restore the vineyard itself, the true source of the Clos des Lambrays once storied reputation established by the magnificent wines of the 1940s and 1950s.

As had befallen the two previous owners, the Saier’s reportedly suffered severe financial setbacks in the early 1990s, which ultimately required them to put the Domaine up for sale in 1994.  The sale did not attract much interest but in the end, a German businessman, Gunter Freund and his son Hans-Joachim purchased Clos des Lambrays in late 1996 for approximately $9 million.  The Freund’s claim in their promotional material, supported by comments from longtime régisseur Thierry Brouin (the resident manager who began at the Domaine in 1980) that their purchase of the Clos des Lambrays was neither a short-term financial investment nor a rich dilettante’s play toy.  Indeed, they have already made significant financial investments, expanding the cuverie considerably among several other improvements to the grounds, including private apartments and a new reception hall and dining room.

In fact, during one visit in the summer of 1999, it was difficult to even converse with M. Brouin for all the construction noise until we descended to the older sections of the cellar to taste.  At the risk of reading more into the physical improvements than may be warranted, the new Domaine now seems more alive somehow, perhaps more serious and purposeful.  By contrast, prior to this time the Domaine had always seemed more or less asleep and completely indifferent to the world at large as it were.  And coincidence or not, up to 1992 the wines were largely indifferent as well.

The Clos des Lambrays itself consists of three sub climats:  Meix Rentier, which is the smallest segment at 1.1 ha and the least elevated portion of the vineyard – given its position at the bottom of the slope, it’s no surprise that it has more clay in its soil composition; Les Larrets (also called Clos des Lambrays) is the largest at 5.7 ha and comprises the large, central portion of the vineyard itself and has more sand in its soil composition; the third parcel, the 2 ha Les Bouchots abuts Clos St.-Denis and opens out to the Combe de Morey above and according to M. Brouin, in difficult years the vines in Les Bouchots take the longest to ripen properly because of the cool air which flows down through the Combe.

The exposition of the Clos has two different angles, one slightly north and the other more easterly.  Clos des Lambrays is the steepest of the Morey grands crus and there are distinct differences between the upper and lower portions of the vineyard in terms of the characteristics of the wines they yield.  The upper portion produces wines of greater finesse and less body whereas the lower portion, with its greater proportion of clay and iron, trades off finesse for body and richness.  In some quarters however, there is another view.  Some believe that the portion of the Clos nearest to Clos de Tart produces wine of true grand cru quality whereas the upper portion towards Clos St.-Denis produces wine that is really more like a top premier cru in terms of weight and depth.  I have heard this mentioned by several Morey insiders and Remington Norman mentions the theory as well in his book, The Great Domaines of Burgundy.

Most Burgundy connoisseurs believe that the Clos des Lambrays is a monopole, but in fact there are 3 other owners.  Two of them have gardens that are classified as part of Clos des Lambrays but unplanted to vines; talk about grand cru vegetables!  The third, M. Jean Taupenot of Domaine Taupenot-Merme, has one-tenth of an acre (.04 ha!) at the bottom of the Clos in the Meix Rentier climat.  Logic of course suggests that he would sell his tiny portion to the Freunds (I’m told the Saier brothers tried more than once to persuade M. Taupenot to sell) but this is Burgundy and logic doesn’t always work the way outsiders imagine it should.  The Taupenot grapes from this sliver of Clos des Lambrays produce barely enough for one barrel yet they proudly market it along with their other wines.  The Taupenot Clos des Lambrays can be quite lovely and I’ve had some very good bottles over the years, though it is difficult to come by.

The average age of the Domaine des Lambrays vines is now about 40 years and they are broken down into two sections from the standpoint of age.  There is the 2.45 ha section that was replanted in 1980 and has now reached 21 years of age.  Then there is the second and larger section of vines averaging approximately 47 years of age.  The 1980 replanting was done with a mix of clones, primarily 114, 115 and 272.  Because of the steepness of the vineyards, the vines are planted in a north south direction rather than the standard east-west planting format.  The sections between the vines are also regularly carpeted with straw as an additional aid against erosion.  Among other new developments, the Domaine is experimenting with lutte raisonée (a modification of all natural viticulture that only responds to a real threat, such as rot or insect infestations when they actually occur, rather than treating the vines in advance of such maladies), confusion sexuelle and no pesticides in an effort to produce even better quality fruit.

The winemaking for the grand cru is quite traditional with a stringent triage (sorting of the grapes), 10% to 30% destemming, no cold maceration, daily pigeage (punch downs of the cap) and fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.  After racking into 50% new oak barrels and a total élevage (the process of maturing the new wine) of approximately 17-18 months, the wine is not fined, but it is given a polishing filtration before the mise when necessary.  The Domaine produces several other wines including a Morey 1er from a parcel of La Riottes combined with declassified portions from the Clos des Lambrays itself.  In most vintages, the portion coming from La Riottes averages around 20% of the final blend.  There is also a Morey villages from a vineyard above the Clos des Lambrays plus two Puligny premiers crus, a Folatières and a Caillerets, the latter of which is particularly good.

The nagging question remains however as to whether Clos des Lambrays presently merits its status as a grand cru.  In trying to answer this question, it’s important to remember that the official classification of a given climat in Burgundy is in theory not based on the quality of the wine it produces, but rather upon the vineyard’s potential quality, as though this potential were readily determinable by some series of tests.  In this case, the Clos’ superb location between two other grands crus and the fact that it once did produce wines worthy of a grand cru (albeit 40 years ago) certainly were strong factors in its bid for grand cru status.

The application for the Clos’ elevation was also helped by the widespread supposition that if the original owners (the Rodier family) had bothered to apply for grand cru status when the initial classification process occurred in the 1930s, Clos des Lambrays would have almost surely joined the ranks of the other grands crus.  This is not simply idle speculation as much the same fact pattern also proved persuasive a few years ago when La Grande Rue (a monopole of the Lamarche family) in Vosne-Romanée was elevated to a grand cru in 1992.

Such seemingly curious considerations are not irrelevant (nor were the politics at the time of the original classification) in such applications to change levels – witness that the Gevrey 1er Les Combottes is surrounded on three sides by grands crus and thus its various owners could, in theory, make the same argument, as did the owners of Clos des Lambrays or La Grande Rue.  Yet it remains a premier cru (and to my mind rightfully so) even though it does sometimes produce wine of grand cru quality.   Thus, despite the occasional misstep, the I.N.A.O. classification process largely seems to get it “right,” even if there are a few egregious exceptions such as Clos St.-Jacques in Gevrey and the lower portion of Les Perrières in Meursault.

Classification peculiarities aside, are the wines themselves truly worthy of the name grand cru?  It should first be said that the wine itself, even the older vintages I have tasted, is almost never a blockbuster in structure or style.  It has neither the richness nor power of Clos de la Roche nor the finesse of Clos St.-Denis.  It tends to be a stylish middleweight, full of bright red fruits with a solid sense of gaminess and minerality plus remarkable complexity.  In this sense, I believe the wines of Clos des Lambrays are somewhat misunderstood as consumers often expect Clos de la Roche-like power and richness that the wines from the Clos des Lambrays rarely display.  But, to the extent longevity is a key characteristic in judging a wine’s worthiness for grand cru status, then it’s important to note that wines of Clos des Lambrays can age extraordinarily well despite their tendency to seem a bit light when young.

Why certain vintages should display this rather lightish flavor profile and lack the complexity they once routinely displayed is not immediately evident.  Much has been made of the replanting that was done in 1980 but even those vines are beginning to mature.  All the more mysterious is that the officially reported yields are lower than any of the other grands crus in Morey St.-Denis so overproduction is not the culprit.

More importantly in terms of quality, the Domaine has recently been quite rigorous about declassifying to Morey 1er status those casks of Clos des Lambrays that don’t meet their standards.  So, even if the younger vines fruit was the root of the problem, wine from this fruit could be selected out and declassified.  In short, it’s a mystery as to why the wines have gone through such a long dry spell.  Perhaps more mature vines will in fact be the final part of the solution because the dedication and money are clearly there.

Things are looking up as the recent wines clearly continue to progress in terms of quality.  The 1988 and 1989 are both good wines in the model of stylish middleweights.  The ‘93, ‘95 and ‘96 vintages show solid promise and it’s a good bet that the 1993 may ultimately prove to be the class of this group (I thought the 1993 and 1996 were both sufficiently good to buy and cellar).  However, the 1990 was an under-performer in the context of the vintage – lovely fruit, but delivers only premier cru quality.  In a move that is both laudable and rare among top wine estates anywhere in the world today, all of the 1991 Clos des Lambrays was declassified to Morey 1er because a serious hail storm had, in the view of the Domaine, irreparably compromised the quality of the harvest; that this was done despite the considerable financial impact is impressive.

My theory regarding the quality question is that the wines Clos des Lambrays may be especially dependent on old vine extract and intensity because of its naturally lighter character.  While it’s of course true that most vineyards produce their highest quality wine when old vines are present, I don’t believe it’s mere coincidence that when the Clos was routinely producing some of the finest wines in all of Burgundy, they also had gnarled and grizzled old vines and extremely low yields.  Thus I am optimistic we will eventually see a return of the Clos to its former eminence as the vines continue to mature.

In sum, quality is on the upswing and it is abundantly clear that the ‘98 and ‘99 vintages are good reasons for optimism about the future.  Let us hope that these are the first important steps in completing the return of Clos des Lambrays to its rightful place among Burgundy’s finest.

The Results of the Tasting

1999 Puligny-Montrachet “Caillerets” 1er 92
1999 Clos des Lambrays 91
1998 Clos des Lambrays 92
1997 Clos des Lambrays 86
1996 Clos des Lambrays 90
1995 Clos des Lambrays 88
1994 Clos des Lambrays 87
1993 Clos des Lambrays 80
1990 Clos des Lambrays 88
1989 Clos des Lambrays 86
1988 Clos des Lambrays 86
1985 Clos des Lambrays 88
1983 Clos des Lambrays 84
1966 Clos des Lambrays 85
1955 Clos des Lambrays 92
1949 Clos des Lambrays 95
1947 Clos des Lambrays 93

1999 Puligny-Montrachet “Caillerets” 1erElegant aromas of white flowers and the barest hint of oak toast merge seamlessly with gorgeous fruit and tight, slightly austere medium weight flavors offering outstanding fruit/acid balance and mouthwatering intensity.  There is superb delineation and flavor authority and the central defining element here is pure, crystalline minerality.  This has all the finesse and grace one could want in young white Burgundy and this is simply a lovely wine in every respect.  92/2007-10

1999 Clos des Lambrays:  (produced from yields of 45 hl/ha in two large parcels of differing vine ages – one that is approximately two-thirds of the blend at 45 years of age and a second, smaller group of vines that is approximately 20 years of age).  Bright pinot and black cherry notes followed by juicy, almost succulent medium weight flavors that offer bacon, smoke and sweet, sappy pinot extract all highlighted by an intense minerality and fine length.  The tannins are ripe and show a certain dusty quality to them.  As is often the case with Clos des Lambrays, this is not especially big or powerful but very stylish and classy with fine potential.  91/2007-12

1998 Clos des Lambrays:  (from yields of only 28 hl/ha).  Exquisite fruit that, in contrast to certain recent vintages here, positively shouts grand cru caliber fruit.  The flavor profile is one of a certain classy middleweight fighter’s grace and athleticism rather than a heavyweight’s power.  There is plenty of ripe, mouth coating tannins lurking beneath the pinot baby fat.  Much like the ‘99 in that it’s not especially big and certainly not highly extracted but it is very persistent on the finish with elegance and class to burn.  An unqualified success.  92/2008-15

1997 Clos des Lambrays:  Initially, this showed curious burnt rubber and slightly stewed aromas that finally blew off after an hour and were replaced by ripe, fresh pinot fruit.  Despite the awkward beginning, the ‘97 Lambrays displays a lovely and quite subtle complexity on the medium weight flavors and a rather short, clipped finish.  This is not at all overripe in the manner of many ‘97s and manages to retain its acid balance.  Good though somewhat disappointing.  86/2004-8

1996 Clos des Lambrays:  Sweet, beautifully nuanced aromas of red fruits, minerals and a touch of earth that give way to medium weight flavors that could have written the book on finesse and refinement.  There is fine length and nice richness all supported by moderate tannins and slightly elevated acidity.  The ‘96 displays outstanding focus and definition, all the while maintaining near perfect harmony between the various elements.  An understated, elegant, genuinely lovely wine that should age well for years.  90/2006-20

1995 Clos des Lambrays:  (from magnum).  Deep ruby red color with bright and beautifully pure raspberry and red pinot fruits all laced with a pronounced minerality and outstanding fruit/acid/tannin balance.  The flavors are light to medium weight and while complex and elegant, offer weight more in line with a top premier cru rather than a grand cru.  Still quite young, this should age well for a long time.  More than a few ‘95s show a tough astringency on the finish but the tannins here are structured, ripe and dense.  A solid showing.  88/2007-15

1994 Clos des Lambrays:  Already bricking with secondary aromatics of sous bois and leather followed by earth-inflected flavors displaying good complexity and a medium length finish showing a touch of astringency.  This is already drinking well and while this will never be great, it is a clear triumph in the context of a difficult vintage.  87/now to 2005

1993 Clos des Lambrays:  Barest touch of bricking with funky, decidedly off aromas, overly mature flavors and a short, clipped finish.  This bottle was clearly not representative, as I have had the wine numerous times and it is an excellent effort, both absolutely and in the context of the outstanding ‘93 vintage; good examples are particularly distinguished by impressive length.  For those who own it, patience will be required as the ‘93 Lambrays is nowhere near ready to drink.  80 for this bottle/90 for prior bottles/2005-12

1990 Clos des Lambrays:  Aged burg nose of leather, smoke, dried fruit and earth notes followed by medium weight, rich, somewhat tannic flavors offering better than average length.  While this is hardly a laser beam of terroir, it does manage to avoid the excessively tannic, overly ripe but fading fruit that some of the less successful ‘90s now show.  Cut from relatively refined cloth as 90s go, offering uncommon elegance and it is approaching peak drinkability.  88/2003-7

1989 Clos des Lambrays:  Expressive nose of mature fruit, touch of underbrush and a trace of volatile acidity though not enough to be overly intrusive. Decidedly lightweight in character and while it offers a beguiling complexity, it finishes on the lean side and I found myself wishing for more weight and richness to better buffer the tannic structure.  I would be inclined to drink this sooner than later before the fruit begins to dry out.  86/now to 2006

1988 Clos des Lambrays:  Advanced secondary aromatics displaying an interesting hint of fresh pinot fruit with beautifully layered, nicely complex flavors and a moderately tannic finish.  As most of the wines in this tasting showed, there is both elegance and a lovely balance to the ‘88 though it is handicapped by a hole in the mid-palate.  This is drinking well now and will not likely improve though I would expect the tannin on the finish to soften further.  86/now to 2006

1985 Clos des Lambrays:  Full, rich and wonderfully vivid nose of earth and dried fruit followed by equally rich if slightly soupy flavors and good if not exceptional length.  I particularly like the intensity of the finish, which adds a bit of additional punch to the medium weight flavors.  The tannic structure is now almost completely resolved though this should continue to hold for another 5 years or so.  Quite tasty in its own way.  88/now to 2006

1983 Clos des Lambrays:  Completely bricked through with an old burg nose tinged with traces of goût de grêle (taste of hail, a definite defect), saddle leather and sous bois.  The flavors are sweet and supple but the acidity is now showing through and there is a bit too much astringency on the finish.  While ‘83 clearly was a difficult vintage, this probably should not have been bottled under the name of Clos des Lambrays as prior bottles of the ‘83 have shown even more poorly.  84/now

1966 Clos des Lambrays:  Completely transparent with a sweet old burg nose of dried rose petals and spice rack nuances, especially clove and anise.  Elegant and light but still quite focused flavors that no longer show grand cru grip or weight.  There is lovely richness and length though this is now but a shadow of its former self even though the wine is still holding together.  While clearly in decline now, it’s at least a graceful one.  85/now

1955 Clos des Lambrays:  (from a magnum with a low fill).  Rich, sweet, smoky and very spicy aromas with a slightly roasted (though not stewed) quality to the nose.  The flavors are equally rich and completely supple with marvelous complexity and a velvety, mouth coating finish.  This is a classy old wine, still balanced, still together and while it was probably better a few years ago, it’s still in wonderful condition.  Clearly more advanced than either the ‘49 or ‘47 but a lovely drink all the same.  92/now

1949 Clos des Lambrays:  (from a pristine magnum with an exceptionally high fill).  For many, including me, this was the wine of the tasting.  Unbelievably complex nose of secondary aromas, leather, dried rose petals, dried berries and sweet earth; one could just smell this wine and be floored by it.  The ‘49 continues to enjoy near flawless harmony between the fruit, tannic structure and supporting acidity followed by mind boggling length.  While not as big or rich as the ‘47, it’s rare to encounter such faultless balance in 50-year-old wines; moreover, this is indisputably the finest older Clos des Lambrays I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.  This is holding well though there is no point in cellaring it for further improvement.  Out and out astonishing.  95/now to 2007 (perhaps longer)

1947 Clos des Lambrays:  (from an near-perfect magnum with a fill level equal to the vintage strip).  This was almost like a hypothetical blend of the flavor profile of the ‘49 with the lower acidity of the ‘55 and for some, this was the wine of the tasting.  Big and robust with aromas of mushrooms and damp earth followed by incredibly complex, wonderfully rich flavors and stunning length.  This could easily be mistaken for a 47 Pomerol as it has the sheer size, remarkable ripeness and uncommon richness to lead a blind taster to that conclusion.  The condition of the wine was perfect and at age 54, it still is cruising along as if the ravages of time were completely irrelevant.  The stuff of which legends are made and perpetuated.  93/now to 2005 (perhaps longer)

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