Comte Liger-Belair – 2016


Tasted in Vosne-Romanée with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, 20 November 2017.

Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
1 Rue du Château
21700 Vosne-Romanée
Tel: +33 3 80 62 13 70

Louis-Michel on 2017:
​2017 – it’s a good vintage. We had no frost, lots of straw burning around the village probably helped. So far I think that the quantity is good, not great. Essentially the quality looks fine and it was one of the easiest growing seasons for a while – no complaints.

Louis-Michel on 2016:
Well, there’s no white. The frost affected all the limits of the commune, so I Lost 95% of the regional reds and whites – and that was down to some mildew too. Overall, the domaine was maybe 50% down. ​Harvesting began September 24, but from the early growth it would have been the 1st September – the frost really retarded growth by 3-4 weeks…

​Louis-Michel has just started the building work for a new winery and bottling area in the corner of his Clos du Château vineyard, directly behind the Château – the first job was to remove part of the of the high wall for access, and, unfortunately, he will lose 200 vines in the Clos.

We discussed the approachability of Louis-Michel’s wines and here is a short aide-memoire from the man himself on how he sees his own cellar:

2005 – still closed, they need 5 years
2006 – more up and down in approachability
2007 – I really like now, more an appetizer style
2008 – open for a year already and showing very nicely
2009 – the acidity is coming back
2010 – is great
2011 – is also drinking great
2012 – is shut down

The wines…

It would have been a surprise if this wasn’t one of the best cellars in Burgundy in 2016 – I found no surprises here!

2016 Vosne-Romanée
11 different vines in Vosne – 80% bottom slope. 40% north – pretty much all the soil types of Vosne all blended, and the only blend of the domain. Racking in December, bottling in February.
Lots of spice, both Vosne and oak – ​the whole cellar is new oak here, but some larger barrels, more and more Seguin-Moreau being used. Supple and fresh with a fine drive for a ‘base wine.’ Lingering and interesting…

2016 Vosne-Romanée Colombière
Vines 65-95 years-old.
More depth and more width – this is really much more interesting and finer. Ooh – beautiful texture, nice volume, beautiful flavour. Just long, long-lasting on the palate.

2016 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Will be bottled anytime now – Louis-Michel has done an earlier bottling with this wine since 2010, he says that it’s done earlier to keep the freshness.
Ooh fresher, redder fruited, more complex – a lighter nose – but super attractive. More intense, faint reduction but saline notes. Complex, more airy gorgeous wine. Very impressive the chalk and cheese difference between this and the previous wine. Great as the last wine was, if I could have only one, it would be this!
2016 Vosne-Romanée 1er Chaumes
It’s becoming more common to see some use of whole-clusters ‘to give a lift to this lime-stone 1er Cru.’ Top one-third of Chaumes is on limestone, below it has deeper clay – this wine is on the limestone – ‘That’s why he has more drive and line.’
More depth, almost a silk to the nose, hyper attractive Vosne spice – yes! Supple, silky, great concentration, a wine of line. Long and the the finish broadening, with a granular finishing complexity – you wont find finer Chaumes – this may be the best I ever tasted here – so that could mean the best I tasted anywhere!

2016 Vosne-Romanée 1er Suchots
A little whole cluster here too. The biggest 1er cru with 12 hectares of vines and multiple soil types. “It was not my beloved wine but I’ve tried to straighten it and make it more vibrant” says Louis-Michel.
Pliable width of hyper-fine spiced fruit. Fresh, an accent of reduction to this beautiful flavour – a little more structure to the form but with super purity of fruit.

2016 Vosne-Romanée 1er Petits Monts
Just on the hill above Richebourg – “never whole cluster as there’s already the brightness that I’m looking for” – two barrels (almost) per year. “This has taken a long time to show itself this year, probably I will age it a little linger before bottling.”
Wow – what a volume of aroma – there’s an accent of reduction highlighting it. Becoming a little more caramel as the reduction fades. Width, energy, vibrance of flavour. Simply a ‘bravo’ wine…

2016 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Brulées
Ooh – super wide, super complex, much more oak today. Great, complex, brilliant energetic wine. If you are ever fortunate enough, don’t hesitate…

2016 Nuits St.Georges 1er Le Cras
Late malo here, will be a late bottling like last year when they waited until May
Very wide, a Vosne style of spiced width. More line and direction, melting at the end, haunting transparency. Grand vin

2016 Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Grands Vignes
There are now 2 ouvrées planted at a density of 24k., but this year only 4.5 barrels for 4.5 hectares!
Plush, a very deep nose. More concentration, more richness of flavour but still a fresh wine, with line, not a fat wine. A hint of barrel today – From richness alone I understand its positioning in the tasting, but my taste runs more to the Cras.

2016 Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignots
Gorgeous weight and depth of aroma. Complex and deep – bravo. Perfect, balance. A weight of ingraining flavour. I also swallowed this! Great wine – in the Clive Coates sense…

2016 Clos de Vougeot
This was once a Liger-Belair holding in 1930s.​ It’s only the second vintage here for this wine, so it’s too early to make assumptions, but as a great fan of Clos de Vougeot I have a slight pang of disappointment that this wine is shown before the (let’s be honest rather special) Echézeaux. Next year if it’s the same, I will pose the question…
Deep colour. Modest reduction, and very, very wide aromas. Fresh, very wide on the palate – just like the nose – growing intensity but an elegance of expression and transparency. Such a great finish!​

2016 Echézeaux
Fabulous, the first nose that explodes with a floral notes! Perfect, beautiful texture, only at the end an accent of tannin. More structure in the finish. Great long-finishing wine!
2016 La Romanée
More weight of aroma, more profound too – that’s probably a trace of reduction – deep spice – the nose to opening out further. Nice volume in the mouth, more presence all the way through to the finish. Lingering, lingering flavour. Much more about potential today than the precocious nature of the the Echézeaux – which I’d definitely take in preference today. But the Echézeaux has two personalities – the nose to the mid-palate but then finish has more rigour – this is more the whole package. The last drops in the glass, no reduction, and beautiful…

2006 La Romanée
Ooh – that’s wide. I’m surprised by the width of sous bois – dark spice, almost soy. So much complexity, so much width, so much length. Slowly the length seems to grow in volume and at the same time the palate with more dimension. I drank the whole glass…

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