Tasted in Vosne-Romanée, 12 June 2015.
The invitation arrived in the post:
“It started with my ancestor, General Louis Liger-Belair who was with Napoleon and settled in Burgundy in 1815 when he acquired the Domaine in Vosne Romanée. Liger is actually a Latin derivative of Loire which is where we were from originally. I am now the seventh generation owner since I took the Domaine on in 2000.
“For the anniversary itself, we have two days of events. The first a La Romanée vertical tasting with a small group on 11 June. The tasting will span 65 vintages with the earliest being 1911 up to 2014. It’s a funny range! Importantly, we’ll also have a double tasting of 2002-2005 of La Romanée when Bouchard Père et Fils made half the wines and me, the other half.
“Friday, 12 June is our actual anniversary. An all-day vertical tasting of La Romanée and all the flagships of the estate. We’ll also host a concert with French violinist Nicolas Dautricourt and a dinner with Pascal Barbot of a three Michlen starred restaurant L’Astrance in Paris who is closing for two days just for us.”
To the right, Louis Liger-Belair, General to Napoléon.
Okay, I didn’t get the gig for the first, Thursday evening, tasting, but Friday more than made up for it. I have been visiting every year, almost without fail, and buying, almost without fail, the wines of this domaine since the 2003 vintage – I guess you could say that I’ve a very good collection now that spans the 2003-2012 vintages – in 2011 I chose to miss my mixed case (judging by my notes, a good choice for my palate) but 2013 waits for me at the domaine. Overall, I rate these wines very, very highly and, indeed, I treasure each bottle that I have.
And the beauty of such a tasting? I know what’s drinking great, today so I can attack my cellar directly!
Part 1 – A range of 2013s…
Taking the 2013s as a whole – i.e. including the 13s from the other verticals – they are showing brilliantly, indeed flamboyantly. The 2012s which I have always assumed will better the 13s are more mineral but a little more pinched by comparison today.
2013 Nuits St.Georges Les Lavières
The domaine holds, via Domain Lamadon (since 2006), 0.1366 hectares of vines, from a parcel towards the bottom of the vineyard. The soil and clay is brown-ish and 40-60cm deep, over Ladoix or Dijon-Corton limestone. In 2015 the vines averaged 86 years-old. The annual production is around 450 bottles.
Deep and perfumed. Fresh, mineral, wide, vibrant, a little oak coming through, brilliant villages with a great finish.
The domaine holds, via Domain Lamadon (since 2006), 0.7260 hectares of vines, from 5 separate parcels around the village – two high on the hill and three below the village. The soils naturally vary! In 2015 30% of the vines were 90 years-old, 30% 70 years-old and the remaining 40% were 50 years old. The annual production is around 3,300 bottles.
More Vosne aroma, though with less impact. More sucrosity, equally vibrant and vivant, more structured. Beautiful mouth-watering flavour in the finish. Super.
2013 Vosne-Romanée La Colombière
The domaine holds 0.7826 hectares of vines, from a parcel adjoining, and behind the Clos du Château. The soils are rich in silt and clay. In 2015 30% of the vines were 90 years-old, another 30% were 70 years-old and 40% were 30 years-old. The annual production is around 3,600 bottles.
A much tighter nose but beautifully floral. More direct flavour, a little narrower and less obviously sweet, again structured. Much more mineral finishing – and again, beautifully mouth-watering.
2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumes
The domaine holds 0.1175 hectares of vines, just across the road from the original (much smaller!) lieu-dit of La Tâche. The soil has an Ostrea Acuminata marl base. In 2015 the vines averaged 76 years-old. The annual production is around 600 bottles.
More floral with a whole cluster aromatic. Beautiful texture – a wine that simply melts across the palate. A wine that’s both big and mineral in the mid-palate – much more so than the early vintages. Complex and brilliant Chaumes. Probably the best producer of Chaumes.
2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots
The domaine holds, via Domain Lamadon (since 2006), 0.2192 hectares of vines, about 1/3rd of the way up the slope from the village. The soil is red-ish-brown, over a base made up of salmon coloured limestone and clay. In 2015 the vines averaged 60 years-old. The annual production is around 750 bottles.
A wider, less intense aromatic, but with the impression of silkiness. Bigger in the mid-palate. Perhaps a hint more CO2 as it’s a different texture. Good weight of finishing flavour. Very good.
2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Petits Monts
The domaine holds, via Domain Lamadon (since 2006), 0.1297 hectares of vines, contigious with their planting of Les Reignots. The soil is rich in active limestone and has a Comblanchien limestone base. In 2015 the vines averaged 56 years-old. The annual production is around 600 bottles.
A really a fine, high-toned aromatic complexity, though much tighter in the base today. Lush, lusciousness in the mouth. Complex and enveloping – really quite something. The finish is easily grand cru level, even with a little barrel note still showing. Memorable! Like the Chaumes, Liger-Belair is probably the best producer of Petits Monts.
2013 Nuits St.Georges 1er Le Cras
The domaine holds, via Domain Lamadon (since 2006), 0.3745 hectares of vines sited between the 1ers of La Richemone and Aux Boudots. The soil, sometimes very thin, is rich with pink-beige Premeaux limestone and clay. In 2015 the vines averaged 86 years-old. The annual production is around 900 bottles.
Beautiful florality on the nose. Good structure – more obviously so than the Vosnes. Wide, good weight, super! A lovely burst of flavour from the mid-palate into the finish – again perhaps with a little gas to modify the texture. Super potential.
2013 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Grandes Vignes
The most recent acquisitiion of the domaine, the 2-1953 hectare monopoly of this 1er Cru in Premeaux. The soil is brown, becoming deeper as you head down the slope, over the limestone base. In 2015 70% of the vines averaged 60 years-old and 30% 2 years-old. The annual production is around 7,200 bottles of red and 1,050 bottles of white.
The only wine in this flight with some reductive aromas. Extra mineral, quite direct flavour, despite a fine width. Ouf! A big hit of mid- palate flavour. Wow and yum!
Part 2 – A range of 2012s…
After the flamboyance of the 13s, here was a more direct, more mineral impression:
2012 Nuits St.Georges Les Lavières
A deeper aromatic, with hints to reduction – good floral notes too. Direct and mineral – much stricter than the 2013.
A weight of pretty Vosne fruit. Again, direct, strict, with a slowly growing weight of flavour. Spicy and a little mineral with a fine and subtle finish. Yum.
2012 Vosne-Romanée La Colombière
High toned spice, tighter below. Great texture, just faintly drying at the limits. A delicious extra dimension of flavour in what is otherwise a stricter wine – fine ying and yang…
2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumes
A prettier, more floral nose. Muscular and intense, but with plenty of flavour dimension. Excellent stuff. A hint of tannin in the finish.
2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots
Pretty, if rather modest floral notes. Again a melting texture on the palate, less dynamic today than many though – more mellow.
2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Monts
Much more modest aroma than the 13, but a similar baby Richebourg texture. Gorgeous, length and complexity – again bravo!
2012 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Cras
An aromatic impression of whole clusters, a little salinity too. Also saline in the mouth, narrow, mineral and slowly mouth-watering. A slow-burner of a wine, but I’m glad I already have some!
2012 Nuits St.Georges 1er Les Grandes Vignes
Modest floral aromatic, clean and interesting. Really super texture with a hint of cushioning, growing sucrosity and mouth-watering flavour. Structured but really excellent. Lovely slowly fading length.
Part 3 – A Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château Vertical…
The domaine holds 0.8304 hectares of vines, the monopoly of this lieu-dit, sited directly behind their Château de Vosne-Romanée. The soil and clay is orange, salmon, sometimes red marl. In 2015 the vines averaged 45 years-old. The annual production is around 3,900 bottles.
A nice little cameo from two wine-writers: One had a chair but walked away to stand/taste at another table (for some time) second wine-writer says ‘I’ll take your chair if that’s okay.’ First wine-writer doesn’t acknowledge, but two minutes later ostentatiously takes another chair…
A nice diversion, now back to the wines…
2013 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
A little reduced. Fuller-textured and rounder than the 12s – plenty of weight here yet still transparently flavoured. Lovely lingering flavours that leave any structure far behind – super!
2012 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
A little fresher nose, complex and clearly of Vosne. Lithe, cool fruit, very silky – more so than 13. A tighter but fresher flavour profile with beautiful fruit in the finish – wow here!
2011 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Vosne aromas but more of a fruit conserve. A more relaxed texture – wide and with just a little tannic texture below. Sweet and rather tasty if also rather ‘easy’ versus the last two, yet with a super finish.
2010 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Floral with a hint of whole-cluster perfume. Wide, indeed much wider in the mouth than the 2011, nicer if tighter texture and flavour after 2011. A really good finish – super.
2009 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
More mature colour. A heavier, headier scent. Rounder but with super-fine texture – excellent mouth-watering riper flavour. I’m a sucker for a well-made riper vintage, it’s the inner Barossa in me 😉 Brilliant.
2008 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
The first wine with some aromatic development. A saline attack, really wonderful meltingly complex flavours – modest intensity but not modest delivery. A beauty.
2007 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
More jam, less aromatic complexity. Sweet fruit but also with very good structure – this, the goto vintage for drinking in the last years. Just a gorgeous finish – regardless of vintage – bravo!
2006 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Rather tighter nose. More structure, faint grain but a weight of flavour too. Brilliant dimension of flavour in the finish – really – simply brilliant for a villages. That said, I prefer the shape of the younger wines…
2005 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Relatively tight nose. Wow width and plenty of energy. A really intense peak of flavour before fading but this is still a tight baby – but with great potential!
2004 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Yes, pyrazine, it starts modest then envelops the nose. In the mouth it doesn’t matter so much despite being ever-present, because this wine offers a lovely complexity. I might not want to buy it, but I’d drink it any day!
2003 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Deeper colour. Weight, fine texture and concentration. 2003 is what it is, and there are certainly some prune notes here, but also brilliant flavour complexity too. Brilliant 03… With a great finish again.
2002 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
A mix of faint herb and sweetness. Wide, complex, still with some ripe tannic structure. Fresh and with a fine peak of mid-palate flavour. Excellent.
2001 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
A more up and down nose with more limited width. Also narrow this has fine floral flavour notes but is much narrower today in presentation.
2000 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Warm conserve notes with more width and interest than the 2001. Lovely padded texture here and a fine complex, open and ripe flavour profile – super drinkable today. Very yum!
Part 4 – A Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées Vertical…
The only cameos this time came from the wines. All were presented in magnum, and this was to be expected because, from the very beginning, Louis-Michel chose not to commercialise this wine as he had only the equivalent of one barrel. This cuvée essentially is a test-bed for ideas like the incorporation of whole-clusters etcetera, and save for some samples in halves, is bottled in large formats for promotional dinners and tastings. 2006 was the first vintage and I remember being captivated by it – the best baby Brûlées I’d ever tasted from barrel at that time.
The domaine holds 0.1157 hectares of vines. Comblanchien limestone to the east ond Premeaux to the west with a reddish-brown chalky-soil covering. In 2015 the vines averaged 58 years-old and the annual production is around 300 bottles.
2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Much deeper colour than the last Clos du Châteaux. Modest aromas. Pinched, slightly narrow flavour profile. It’s mainly very tight today but what flavour complexity from the mid-palate and onwards – really wow!
2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Deeper, fuller, faintly reduced but a wide aromatic too. Good sweetness of fruit here, still with some reductive flavour. Good complexity, indeed really, really good in the mid palate to the finish. Ouf yum!
2011 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Wow, wow, wow aromas – Just brilliant. The palate is complex and composed, but somewhat modest versus the aromatics, yet with a super finish. Quite something for the vintage!
2010 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
A wide and confidently complex nose – really fine! Great silky texture, super dimension and intensity. No discussion – great wine!
2009 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
A complex nose, still with some oak accents. Brilliant complexity across the palate, ripe and still oaky but also still great!
2008 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Fine, indeed beautiful aromas. Here’s a little more saline impression, and wood too. Still a beautifully complex wine that finishes brightly.
2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Warm, fruit conserve on the nose. Mouth-filling. Complex, again with conserve fruit. Modest versus some, certainly less intellectual but fine.
2006 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brûlées
Fine, high tones. Wide and subtly complex. Big and sweet in the mouth with grand cru intensity. This remains a firm favourite!
Part 5 – A Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots Vertical…
The domaine holds 0.7319 hectares of vines. The soil has a high percentage of active limestone based on Comblanchien limestone. In 2015 30% of the vines were 90 years-old, 40% were 60 years-old, and 30% were 30 years-old. The annual production is around 2,100 bottles.
2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
A modest nose, but with sweet and inviting high tones. Mouth-filling, some gas here I think, given the texture, but also, complexity and energy. The finish is insinuating, rather than powerful. A pretty baby.
2012 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Prettier, more defined aromas, narrow and deep rather than wide. More supple structure – less gas – yet still a wine of structure. A lovely lift of mouth-watering flavour and freshness in the mid-palate and finish. Really much more together than the 2013 this morning.
2011 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Quite a strong pyrazine note, plus a faint width of aromatic texture. Fine sweetness and scale – again some pyrazine in the flavour. Not my favourite.
2010 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
More cushioned, a softer aromatic, with occasional flashes of flowers. Some sweetness and plenty of weight to the flavour. This is lovely, but discreet for a 10, though very insinuatingly long…
2009 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Darker, textured fruit, flashes of fine flowers too. For a 2009 this is direct and sleek, not from an obviously warm vintage there’s a hint of structure then beautifully mouth-watering flavour. Yum!
2008 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Reignots
Here is a depth of fruit, dark, perhaps with a faint accent of reduction, but certainly more roasted. Wide then round, really lovely in the mouth – really, this is much more interesting than the nose. Long in a roast fruit note. Yummy!
2007 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Ouf – that’s pretty! Wide, complex, floral with very accessible fruit. Sweet, if not the sweetest, lots of complexity – maybe not the focus and clarity of some, but really a wine to drink today – I’m tempted to prise open the case 😉 Faint tannin in the finish
2006 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Round, sweet and floral with a very silky impression. Wide, cushioned, and rather intense. A lovely width of flavour here. Beautifully floral finishing…
2005 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Tighter but with beautiful clarity. Really only half-power aromatics here but they are beautiful all the same. Wow, what shape (?) it melds to your mouth. Lithe and supple with no edges, really quite something now, but it will become greater-still…
2004 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Ouf – pyrazine. Not my thing at all… Lovely shape and texture in the mouth but really the flavour is equally corrupted for my palate.
2003 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Faintly spiced fruit tart with a slowly growing higher toned note of herb that hints to mint. Sweet, wide. Powerful but with excellently balancing acidity. A lovely lifted finish.
2002 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Here is a little more age and development – modest above but with more weight for the bass notes. Lovely width, weight and intensity – this is super! Really fine in the mid-palate. Lingering, lingering – lovely…
Part 6 – An Echézeaux Vertical…
Like the Brûlées before, a wine that began here in 2006 following the long-term acquisition of the Domaine Lamadon vines. The domaine holds 3 separate parcels that total 0.6157 hectares of grand cru vines. The parcels are 0.3299 ha in Cruots (alternatively named Vignes Blanches), 0.2546 ha in Champs Traversins and 0.0312 ha in Clos St.Denis. In 2015 40% of the vines were 80 years-old, 50% were 60 years-old, and 10% between 20 and 40 years-old. The annual production is around 1,950 bottles.
A width of fine dark fruit. A wine of line, rather than ultimate weight. It’s still not showing its full complexity – only in the finish which has a magnificent panorama. Still,really super….
Reduction. Quite some weight of flavour here, but finely packaged. This is a wine of line and length today, tons of potential but like the 2013, only really resplendent in the finish this morning.
A faint pyrazine note which grows in the glass. Not noticeable on the complex, mid-weight palate of very good complexity – a comfortable Echézeaux, but rather drinkable too.
Not so wide on the nose but with lovely weight and complexity of aroma – fine ripe fruit. Wide, lush, complex and enveloping – what more to say ? Only a little oak in the finish to distract.
Modest weight, more of a width than depth of aroma. Less sweet than the 2010, quite some weight and shape in the mouth though. Really a lot of potential here.
A different aromatic, with some development – less joyful for me. Wide, some complexity, and lots of mouth-watering flavour. Strong and interestingly finishing. A gorgeous finish actually!
Full, high-toned, plenty of weight and certainly not too ripe. Big shape, very round, complex and joyful, critically this is less focused and defined than most – but ultra gourmand too!
Not so deep, but here is a lovely width of aroma. Weight and width, followed by complexity – there seems more extraction, certainly more weight versus some of the younger wines, but super all the same. Glad it’s in my cellar!
Part 7 – A Vertical of La Romanée Grand Cru…
The domaine holds the monopoly of this 0.8452 hectare grand cru – Burgundy’s smallest appellation contrôlée. The soil is reddish-brown over a bed of pink, Premeaux limestone to the west of the parcel, and deeper more clay soil to the east. In 2015 20% of the vines were over 100 years-old, 50% were 60 years-old, and 30% were aged between 20 and 40 years-old. The annual production is around 3,600 bottles.
2013 La Romanée
Perhaps the nose is pinched a little, but what an aromatic complexity! Wide, with brilliant mouth-watering complexity. Even more impressive in the finish. Currently a wine of parts, but what parts!
2012 La Romanée
A rounder aromatic style – the mythical ‘spherical.’ A round shape in the mouth too – really enveloping. Discreet in the finish, still a little primary, but really almost unending flavour – I have to take the next wine to terminate it! Über-wine!
2011 La Romanée
A little floral – a nose with fine width too. Unctuous texture, a wine that’s absolutely mouth-filling without any overt cushioning. Complex and brilliant in the finish!
2010 La Romanée
Wide, cushioned, complex, indeed panoramic – what a great start. Round and mouth-filling. Just a little more primary than the 11, with a more distinguished if more tannic finish – certainly you should drink the 11 in preference today!
2009 La Romanée
Modest, silky but oh-so inviting aromas. Super width, cushioning and moderate complexity. Texturally this is completely open, but the flavours remain nascent.
2008 La Romanée
Ouf – I’m already hooked! Not the aromatic or depth of some but simply put, this is discreetly gorgeous. Good dimension on the palate, more complex and more open from a flavour perspective than the 2009. A beautiful lift of flavour/aroma in the mid-palate and finish. Almost worth opening 😉
2007 La Romanée
There’s weight here, also a complexity with a growing intensity of floral notes. Big and round in the mouth – after the 2011, really the goto La Romanée at the moment. Complex and giving yet top- tier grand cru at the same time.
2006 La Romanée
Not so much weight below, but beautiful top notes and width of aromas. Sweetness of fruit is my first impression, super weight of flavour too. I love the mid-palate dimension here. Long, long with a modest accent of tannin. This will be great…
2005 La Romanée
Seemingly quite discreet aromas – tight if you like – just a faint herb and a faint fruit, but faint, faint. On the other hand, this dominates your attention on the palate; wide, silken and with unplumbable depth. What a baby but magnificent persistence in the finish. Such stuff as dreams are made on…
2004 La Romanée
The nose is strongly of the pyrazine vintage. Round, textured and with some power, but also too much pyrazine flavour…
2003 La Romanée
All the more fresher and inviting after the 2004. Round, very complex, indeed very, very complex. It’s clearly form 2003 but with an injection of freshness – definitely a wine to approach when its 25, plus, years-old, despite how easy it is to drink today.
2002 La Romanée
A modest but wide and interesting aromatic that becomes ever fresher and inviting. Big, faintly tannic, plenty of floral flavour – really one of the most complex here, but with less finesse of structure – yet superb wine!
Part 7 – Only just a vertical of Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Grandes Vignes – Blanc!
For me, these two wines were the greatest revelation of the tasting. I’ve normally tasted this 3-6 months before bottling, and Louis-michel does everything he can to oxidise all that’s ‘oxidisable’ – so it tastes borderline oxidised/rather savoury at this stage in it’s elevage. Really it’s not my thing, but at the end of elevage:
2013 Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Grandes Vignes – Blanc
Fresh and pretty – very different to the barrel. Wide, a little lush but with very fine acidity. The flavour is wide and lingering – this is very good, and I’m surprised. I’ll have to start tasting this only after its bottled! Yum!
2012 Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Grandes Vignes – Blanc
Even more high-toned. With some faint flowers too. Some padding but with fine mouth-watering flavour and balance. Even nicer than the 2013 I think – really super wine!