I recently attended a tasting of Clos des Lambrays with a selection of vintages spanning 1990 to 2010. Thierry Brouin, longtime oenologist at Domaine des Lambrays, was a charming (though jetlagged) host and humbly provided a view of the domaine’s history and its evolution under his stewardship. This was my first time tasting Clos des Lambrays and I can’t think of a better crash course.
Clos des Lambrays 1990
Defiantly tertiary with a range of old red wine aromas: mushroom, leather, spice. Despite this development, it retains a vibrancy of aroma and is certainly not past it. In the mouth, light bodied with a seamless line, this tastes saucy in the brown sense. A light dusting of tannin arches over an elegant finish. There is still lively acid and freshness. Charming.
Clos des Lambrays 1993
Noticeably more full than the 1990, this wine’s stylings are more masculine and chunky. The flavour profile is quite developed but with an underlying fruit weight missing from the older wine and a sense of minerality that underlines the fruit. Structurally, a bigger, more prominent wine, with more tannins and less exposed acid. At first this dipped through the after palate but some swirling saw that right.
Clos des Lambrays 1995
A really distinctive aroma that shows a pine needle (Thierry suggested camphor) note missing from the other vintages tasted. Light, fresh, with bit more primary fruit, this also came across slightly closed. In the mouth, more masculine than expected with dark berries and a litheness of line, perhaps a bit simple but hugely drinkable and attractive.
Clos des Lambrays 1999
This has a heavy brow, much more inclined to brood than any of its older siblings in this tasting. Dark fruit notes dominate an aroma that is the first of the tasting to seem mostly primary in character. In the mouth, very structured, tannins still prominent and drying, great concentration of dark berry fruit. Oak is also a noticeable influence.
Clos des Lambrays 2006
Very primary, this shows a lighter shade of fruit, spiced oak, heaps of minerality and a slightly raw vibe. The aroma is heady, oak-influenced and quite intoxicating. Exciting. The palate unfolds with cherry essence, vanilla, luxurious richness and chewy density in a framework of powdery tannins. This is fresh, structured and was quite my favourite wine of the tasting. I wish I had some in my cellar.
Clos des Lambrays 2008
There was quite a bit of burned rubber on opening that never quite blew off, though it did become less prominent after about fifteen minutes of swirling. Once past this, there’s a light, red fruited aroma profile that is pretty and delicate. On the palate, fleet of foot, fruit seeming sweeter here and red rather than black in character. Not sure if this is typical.
Clos des Lambrays 2009
This seemed a favourite amongst the group and I can understand why. Very dense and dark on the nose, but expressive too, and almost a little rustic in its lilt. In the mouth, prickly mineral acid, coffee spiced oak and dark fruit. Also a meaty, umami-esque edge. Quite tannic in a surprisingly loose-knit way, and with very juicy acid, this is screaming for more time, though it’s already reasonably generous. Thierry suggested this vintage clearly expresses the Clos des Lambrays terroir.
Clos des Lambrays 2010
Very tight for now. Even so, there’s great purity of fruit on the nose, along with nougat oak and a dose of adolescent brooding. In the mouth, structure is predictably raw, acid sizzling away and tannin equally firm, flavours tending as much towards coffee oak as dark fruit. Quite hard to assess but, despite its youth, seems of beautiful form and line to me, perhaps more refined, if less obviously characterful, than the 2009. I liked this very much.