This is magic. Representing almost a quarter of Lamy’s production, La Princée is a blend of ten small village parcels totalling just under three hectares. One-third of these vines are now over 60 years old, with the remainder planted in 1985 and 2000. All the parcels are sited in the cooler, east-facing Saint-Aubin combe (or valley), on chalky, mineral soils. It is therefore no surprise that this is a racy, crunchy white Burgundy of enormous, limestone-rich personality and energy. For lovers of mineral white Burgundies, this will offer more pleasure than many wines at twice the price.
“A cool, pure and restrained nose grudgingly offers up notes of citrus, pear and soft floral scents. The highly energetic flavors are also quite precise and chiseled on the equally bone dry finale.” 87-89 Points, Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 71
Lamy has 0.7-hectares of vines in this tiny parcel, situated at the western fringe of the village and planted between 1985-1995. Clos du Meix’s sheltered location, (just below Les Castets on a south facing slope), its heavier clays and the fact that it is fully enclosed by a wall (and therefore protected from the cold, northern winds), always gives this wine excellent texture to go with its intense minerality. Contributing to the wine’s character is the boney soil in this vineyard, there’s only 30cm top soil before the vine’s roots hit the hard limestone. It’s a type of mother rock that roots struggle to penetrate, so this is a less mineral cuvée than, for example, the nearby Derrière chez Edouard. That said, Clos du Meix gifts a Lamy classic in 2015, both refreshing and mouth-filling and weighing in at 12.8% natural alcohol.
“A distinctly smoky nose displays notes of various citrus and floral elements that add breadth to the mostly white orchard fruit scents. The highly energetic, intense and overtly stony middle weight flavors possess good mid-palate richness while retaining good focus on the relatively linear, dry and solidly persistent finale.” 89-91 points, Allen Meadows, Burghound, Issue 67
One of Burgundy’s best kept secrets is barely a secret any more. Olivier Lamy is making some of the purest and most mineral white Burgundies of the Côte (and some pretty damn handy reds) and demand now officially exceeds supply. On our last visit when we began tasting the ‘15s from cask we had to double check with Olivier Lamy to be sure that he had not served us 2014s by mistake – such was the freshness and mineral intensity of the wines splashing around our glasses! No, Lamy assured us, these were indeed 2015s — a reminder that you should always leave your vintage preconceptions at the door when tasting at great domaines. Oliver Lamy started harvest on the 25th August in 2015, a date that would traditionally be considered extremely early by most on the Côte. Yet, Lamy’s precise practice in the vineyards, his revolutionary pruning style, high density planting and low yields means that his fruit ripens earlier, in simple terms, something that can be an advantage in a northern climate like Burgundy. It also offers him a broader window to harvest a perfect ripeness, as shown in 2015, when, for example, the vineyards for Les Frionnes were harvested over three stages, depending on the vines age.
Unlike last year’s two-tranche setup, this year we offer all the wines in one glorious fell swoop. There are a lot of wines to get through, so for time’s sake I’ve left Bibendum’s tasting notes to one side. There are great Burghound reviews for those interested and besides, I think we all know what we’re looking at here. Regarding the reds – this year they were cropped at around 20-30 hl/ha and fermented with 80% whole bunches, give or take. Lamy used no new oak and no sulphur during the vinifications. Due to the low yields our allocation of these beautiful, supple reds is down by half. Whatever you get your hands on, you are in for a treat.
The better news is that the white harvest was slightly less frugal and our allocation is in a similar ballpark as last year (which we doubt will be the case for 2016 or 2017!). Again, no new oak at all was used and there was no sulphur added until bottling; Lamy did not have to arrest his malos this year (as many did) as his fruit was so vibrant and the pHs very low. The whites spent one year ageing in 350–600 litre oak barrels before staying up to a year, on lees, in tank, depending on the power of the terroir. Lamy decided to rest all the whites in cuve for 8-12 months this year, as he felt it helped to underscore the wines’ vivacity and precision. At the villages and premiers cru level many of the wines, from tank anyway, shared the high-octane freshness and intensity of their 2014 counterparts. It was only when you moved to the top premier crus and the Haute Densité wines that you started to notice, in the best possible way, the extra power of this vintage. Regardless, all of the whites share a spellbinding sense of crystalline purity, sublime balance and lightness of touch. Buy what you can. Not only is this a Domaine at the apex of Burgundy quality but, in the scheme of things, the value on offer is spectacular as well.