Tasted in Vosne-Romanée with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, 26 November 2019.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
1 Rue du Château
Tel: +33 3 80 62 13 70
Louis-Michel on 2019:
“Super! We had 50% less in 2019; first, the cold at bud-break, then heat causing dried berries, then the heat again causing lost juice. But we had great grapes for those that remained. Everything was small in 19 – except the quality!”
Louis-Michel on 2018:
“For the 2018s, some were assembled into tanks in early September and I’m waiting to bottle those in 2 weeks. The rest are in barrel.
“Harvesting for us was 02-08 September. It was key to pick early, the pH is quite high but we still kept the freshness. Most of the malos went before pressing. You need to taste without exception what you want to buy in 2018 – its an oenologist’s vintage – lots of tricks were used. We are 12.5°-14°, the latter wine was Nuits Cras, though it’s actually our highest every year.”
Work is practically finished in Louis-Michel’s new cuverie, and the news is that he bought the house and garden of a neighbour so has recovered some extra place for more vines…
Striking wines from Louis-Michel – much greatness and always delivered with an uncommon freshness. A great address for 2018s.
A fine depth of aroma. Supple, fine-textured, melting, long, deliciously wide and persistent. Great Nuits blanc.
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.
Hmm, thats a big, aromatic nose; for its level, there’s super complexity – faintly whole-cluster spiced is the impression yet this is all destemmed – but vibrantly fruited too. Mouth-filling, a little barrel texture that will fade over the next months. Lip-smacking and slowly mouth-watering, extra long. Excellent villages.
Vines 65-95 years-old. Massale selection with multiple plantings – ‘great material’
More aromatic, spiced and perfumed. This is fresher, brighter, more driving, more energetic, great finishing too. Proper fresh, great 2018 burgundy.
‘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…’
Vibrantly perfumed again – a bigger nose this time. So fresh again, wide, energetic – a different shape to the last which I slightly prefer. But qualitatively they are equal. More perfumed finishing, perhaps.
2018 Nuits St.Georges Les Lavières
Directly a more fruited, less spiced width of aroma. Hmm. Driving, direct – I must be careful not to recommend every single wine for its drive, but this is such a great 2018! Faintly tannic finishing, but that’s partly barrel tannin so will be much less in 6+ months. Excellent.
2018 Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumes
A little added wc in this – about 20%
The same spiced peony florals as the previous Vosnes – aromatically I don’t see the wc. Actually a nice rigour to the structure here – rare in Chaumes. Very wide, very long. Super
2018 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.
Less volume of aroma, but finer, more beautifully elegant aroma. Wide, fresh, beautifully shaped – a little less rigour to the structure. Slowly fading on the finish. A gorgeously elegant wine in 2018…
All the remaining wines tasted from barrel:
2018 Vosne-Romanée 1er 1er Brulees
More complex – the spiced peony padded out with an extra mineral dimension. A touch more tannin here – still on a very low level. Super focus to the flavour. Narrower but longer finishing – more vibrantly finishing too. You are always lucky to taste this non-commercial cuvée…
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.
Like the finish of the last, here is a more vibrant nose – open, fabulously pure focused – yes! Fuller, more depth of flavour than all the previous wines. A little extra tannic texture – but probably from the barrel.
2018 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.’
Almost a creamy chalkiness to this nose – a subtle vibration of reduction too. Wide, ultra-mouth-watering, melting, mobile, half direct but with width too, the most mineral finishing. I don’t see the 14°!
2018 Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Grands Vignes
There are now 2 ouvrées planted at a density of 24k. There’s also a young vine Clos des Grands Vignes that is bottled just for restaurants. I keep the reduction as there’s no need to change anything as the ageing isn’t complete, but it will be gone after assembling into tank.
Heres the touch of reduction that LM notes; modest but firework style. Supple, more depth of richer flavour – wide, tasty quite sweet but the acidity/energy keep it mainly in check. The finish is nicely mineral though – in fact, it’s my favourite part…
Hmm, a touch of the barrel to this one, but also a fuller rather complex nose too. A touch of gas too. Vibrant wine, barrel flavour here too. Extra-long. Should be great wine – as usual!
Fourth vintage. This was once a Liger-Belair holding in the 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. ‘We don’t do the pruning which obviously I’d prefer to do.’ This is why it’s still served before the Echézeaux…
A little more compact this nose, but with a nice floral top-line. Nice in the mouth – open, structural, gorgeous in the middle – melting with flavour. Long, open, really a top CV – even with the caveats of LM!
Softer, rounder, faint barrel too. Ooh, thats a beauty, wide, cool fruit, a little grain – growing in mid-palate complexity. A large block of finishing flavour. Excellent wine…
Ooh – that’s wide, ultra silky-textured is the impression, more faintly but über-elegantly floral. Crystalline, mineral, fresh – open – a wine of clarity, easy over the palate yet properly structured. Layered, mouth-watering, complex. Very long. As close to perfect as you’re likely to find in 2018.