I was very happy to join my friend Ed’s tasting group recently to drink some fine bottles from Morey St. Denis with dinner at their usual restaurant haunt. It was a great line-up and really had me wishing I owned some of these. All of the wines were served blind and arranged in order by the restaurant staff.
2002 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays. This is a gloriously-scented wine that features seductive aromas of dried red flowers, pure cherries and red berries, little undertones of funky porcini mushroom and a distant hint of softly sweet mocha. It’s just lovely stuff to sniff. In the mouth, it comes across as younger and a bit less evolved, but still extremely nice. Over time, it turns prettier and prettier, fanning out with red berry and cherry fruit flavors and floral tones that stay grippy, honed and directed, yet giving at just the right times. Little touches of gaminess and spice accent the precise finish quite pleasingly, leaving a great impression. This will probably just get better and better, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend drinking it now, either.
1985 Domaine Dujac Bonnes Mares. This wine shows the most faded color in the line-up, with a bit of orange at the rim and a fair dose of sediment in the bottle. It delivers delightful autumnal aromas of crunchy leaf pile, smoke, fine earth, dried cherries, cranberries, pretty spices and subtle savory tones. It’s effortlessly pretty in the mouth, with an expressive personality of tangy red fruit, toasted orange peel and savory umami impressions that are lighter-bodied but show sneaky concentration. It fills the mouth with fine flavors and never seems to break a sweat, despite showing great staying power on the finely-balanced finish. I went back and forth on this or the ’02 Lambrays as my wine of the night.
1985 Pierre Bourée Fils Clos de la Roche. This wine is a bit more blunt on the nose, but shows solid concentration of cherry, raspberry, gravel stone, tomato vine and bacon fat aromas. It’s pretty smooth in the mouth, with a lush sort of texture to the red fruit flavors. A little twang of acidity keeps it fresh on the easy finish. It’s less nuanced and characterful than most of the wines on the table, but it displays good richness of flavor and a soft mouthfeel that makes it pretty easy to drink.
1999 Michel Magnien Clos St. Denis. This may be the darkest and most opaque-colored wine on the table, but it’s finely-perfumed with scents of lilacs, candles, face powder, black cherries and soft oak to go along with quiet background notes of birch and forest floor. It grows more intriguing and overt as the night goes on, too. In the mouth, it is utterly seamless, with a slippery-smooth texture and fine drive. It just slides across the palate with its dark cherry and mixed berry fruit and fine earth flavors. It shows power without weight and it allies excellent concentration and richness with a regal texture and pure, beautiful fruit. This was my #3 wine of the night.
2002 Hubert Lignier Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Vielles Vignes. This is a very different kind of nose, with much more of a sense of stem inclusion to the aromas of stripped evergreen branch, sassafras, peppermint dust, menthol, dark berries and subtle but persistent oak. It’s comes across as a bit more robust and manly than the rest of the line-up, a characterization that continues on to the palate, where it is the most dense, tightly-knit and powerful wine in the line-up—with a tingly, zesty and prickly character that provides a lot of zip to the flavors of blueberries, huckleberries, oak spices and faint background stem notes. It’s a big mouthful of pinot, with a lot more bravado than seductiveness at this stage of the game. My advice is to give it another 5 years or so.
1988 Pierre Bourée Fils Clos de la Roche. Like the ’85 version of this, it doesn’t show nearly as much on the nose as you want it to, focusing fairly narrowly on tightly-coiled aromas of cherry fruit to go along with limestone, chalk, white smoke, fireplace ash and birch scents. In the mouth, it revolves around flavors of sour cherry and tart cranberry combined with acidity that makes the mouth pucker a bit. That super-tangy impression combines with a texture that seems to need more time to unfold and lengthen out. There are some elements to like here, but it just doesn’t feel nuanced or elegant, at least not right now.
1990 Georges Lignier et Fils Bonnes Mares. This bouquet builds and builds throughout the evening, showing plush and luxuriant aromas of baked cherries, sweet creosote, fireplace ash, hickory smoke and bacon fat that have nice plumpness and concentration to them. In the mouth, it is absolutely loaded and packed with expressive flavor. The plush fruit is gorgeously warm and velvety, with great cohesion and fine-knit texture. It goes on and on, and would seem to have a good long life ahead of it. This was just outside my top 3 wines on the night, but it could easily have been ranked higher.
2002 Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Cuvee Auguste. This is dark and smoky, but also plenty classy on the nose—featuring muscular aromas of dark cherries and raspberries, granite stone and mossy undergrowth. It has a nice peppery, earthy and leafy character to it on the palate, to go along with loads of impressively-concentrated yet refined blue and black berry fruit. It has a fine sweetness to it, with good tension and finely-rounded tannins. I like this a lot, but as the tannins grow more prominent on the finish as the evening goes on, I’m inclined to suggest a few more years in the cellar for it.