Tasted in Vosne-Romanée with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, 03 December 2018.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
1 Rue du Château
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. We started harvesting on the 3rd September, only two days later than in 2018. We are at the time of year where the wines are moving into tank. I started to rack directly after the harvest this year, the new cuverie will be a luxury that means we will have no bottlenecks. I’m making a slightly shorter aging. How are the yields? Well, 2017 is the first vintage where we can make wine since 2009, all of the following vintages were 15-50% down in volume. The fruit is really what you can see in the glass and I think it’s important to catch that, I want to keep it before it fades – that said, the elevage is only 2 months less than usual.
In 2017 I made an average of 34 hl/ha, it was only 22 hl/ha for 2016.”
From 2017 there is a new cuvée at the domaine – but you are unlikely to see it for sale in a merchant: Nuits St.Georges, made from the young vines from Clos des Grands Vignes – it’s destined only for restaurants.
I note that Louis-Michel is now consulting for the Clos de la Commeraine in Pommard; they are moving to organic farming, this year they do an elevage with eight different cuvées from the 3.75 ha Clos. They have made 20 holes around the Clos to get a better idea of the terroirs within their walls and will maybe make even more cuvées in the future.
Likely the stage of elevage but I saw less directly brilliant wines than in 2016 – only excellent – but when they hit their stride in your glass – Reignots, Echézeaux, Romanée – then you know that you’re in a special cellar!
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 domaine.
Wide, fresh, with a faint reductive character, modest volume. Not modest volume in the mouth, round, red, a little grain at the periphery, wide and persistent with a little herb – really persistent.
2017 Vosne-Romanée Colombière
Vines 65-95 years-old. Massale selection with multiple plantings – ‘great material’
Ooh, more ready, pure, a more attractive nose. Vibrant, fuller, delicious with a touch of tannin but still a hint finer than the last. Growing bigger in the finish, long too.
2017 Vosne-Romanée Clos du Château
Less good selection of clones here versus the Colombiere, ‘It needed a lot of work to improve, more than I thought, I replant a small part each year, today it’s about 25% that has been replanted. I avoid the cooking recipe that brings more colour, I prefer to keep the best flavour…’
Clearly a little less colour. Deep, round, faintly truffly reductive. Extra silky, beautifully textured, pure really a modest intensity, but a great finish, with just a touch of oak.
2017 Vosne-Romanée 1er Suchots
The biggest 1er cru with 12 hectares of vines and multiple soil types – these vines are at the bottom, just above the cemetery, 0.2 ha. “It was not my beloved wine but I’ve tried to straighten it and make it more vibrant” says Louis-Michel.
Ooh – pure, delicate and pure – a touch of class. Fuller, more lithe muscle, a touch of tannin, depth of flavour, wide, complex, not quite opulent, but heading in that direction – super length and finely textured… easy and delicious but with some depth.
2017 Nuits St.Georges 1er Le Cras
‘Every year this starts as a very big wine and becomes more normal with elevage. You can also call Cras, Boudots, there were probably only 2-3 Cras before I started, now there are more.’
A deep and vibrant nose, lots of aromatic concentration. Fresh, sleek, concentrated, beautiful open flavour, almost architectural. Excellent…
2017 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!
Ooh, a nice nose, full, cushioned, a little oak showing. Fresh and mouth filling, less density than the nose suggests, but open and with melting freshness of flavour. Long. I prefer the different style of the Cras finish – like always – but here is wine!
2017 Vosne-Romanée 1er Petits Monts
Just on the hill above Richebourg – 0.12 hectares just two barrels most years from 60-70 yo vines. A cru that needed a leader for so long, but today there’s a great cadre of producers.
A vibrant but not quite ready nose. Ooh – direct, beautiful wine that attacks but doesn’t assault the palate. Only slowly filling at in the end, a little more depth of flavour.
The almost traditional here, a slight reduction. Fuller but also fresher, vibrant, complex, growing depth of flavour. So long too – a grand cru in many other cellars… the nose becoming fuller and redder as reduction fades.
2017 Clos de Vougeot
Third vintage. This was once a Liger-Belair holding in 1930s. Mid-slope, Vosne-side, involved in just about everything including the choice of compost, except the pruning, a négoce contract for the grapes. ‘I would say that it has the same father as the domaine wines, but a different mother!’ says Louis-Michel…
Ooh, that’s a great nose, depth, purity – not massive, but hyper attractive, the last drops are deliciously aromatic. Big, fresh, open, have to wait for more. Certainly not fully open or austere but mouth-filling tasty wine – really rather easy but long and impressive, in fact quite a mineral length…
Ooh – deeper, more resonant, a suppleness and depth of aroma. Yes! Wide, concentrated, fresh, alive – bravo! – simply great. Vibrant finishing, simply great.
Ooh – that’s another great nose – more width than the Echézeaux, it could certainly be bigger, but that’s churlish. Fuller, round, a touch of tannin, depth and more depth of flavour, a touch of florals, so much complexity. Bright, open, less vibrant but simply great finishing, at the end much more mineral too.
Ooh, there’s more than a touch of maturity here – complex, wide, fine dry leaves, growing further with florals. Very wide, very long and complex, so many facets are easy, so many are incredibly impressive. It’s quite a big finish and quite spiced here. Every sniff, every finish – different… bravo!