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Liger-Belair & the case of the Lamadon Echézeaux

Main Profile: Domaine Comte Liger-Belair Here.

the belair construction crane pic credit david lester

the belair craneThe first ‘herald’ that you are arriving in Vosne-Romanée, at least for the last weeks, has been the long-distance sighting of a large yellow construction crane – sprouting from somewhere in the centre of the village.

Like following a rainbow to it’s end, this was one of those rare times that treasure was actually found at the source; the crane was sprouting from the garden of the Château de Vosne-Romanée where Louis-Michel Liger-Belair is now extending his cuverie and cellars – treasure indeed! With Louis-Michel now exploiting over 8 hectares of vines, 3 times more than in 2005, the extension was a necessity. The construction will also allow better truck access to the cuverie – it saves them from parking by his front door!.

As an aside, while chatting with Louis-Michel, I asked him what he thought of the prices for 2005’s; although I was talking in general, he started a little nonplussed and defensive; “it’s not me” he said as he bemoaned the situation, and I can confirm that private clients are paying no more than they did in 2003 or 2004 for the Liger-Belair wines.

The new vintage and the new cuvées

L-M summarised the 2006 vintage simply as being all about hard work in the vineyard. In terms of his list of cuvées, first up was a new Vosne-Romanée, a blend of 11 parcels from both north and south of the village – indeed it is the only blend from the estate, but each of the parcels were harvested on the same day.

There are no wines here that I would not buy, and more than I can count on the fingers of one hand that I will be chasing. A really excellent result and very close to the quality of his 2005’s. These wines also serve to confirm a that some producers have really excelled in the Nuits/Vosne area in 2006.

2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanéetry to find this wine...
The nose is deep and wide with some dark spice. In the mouth it has decent concentration, just a little petillance and nice acidity. Surprisingly long with understated tannin that clings to your mouth helping cement the flavour of the finish.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée La Colombièretry to find this wine...
The nose starts with a little struck match but below is a fine black-fruited impression against some dark oak. Fresh, again a little petillance though still showing a nice texture. There is an extra intensity through the mid-palate here and overall shows a little more power.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée Clos du Châteautry to find this wine...
A higher-toned nose, more floral – rose petals – and redcurrant. The palate is more elegant and apparently longer – very pretty, and the last drops in the glass smell lovely.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Nuits St.Georges Lavièrestry to find this wine...
From vines just below Aux Réas. The nose is interesting and very fruit-driven. More tannin on display here, but it is concentrated and shows real personality. Sometimes Lavières can be ‘hard’, but not this one.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Chaumestry to find this wine...
The nose is somehow understated yet at the same time densely packed with fruit. The palate is silken yet reflects the nose in showing an understated density. Quite a tight showing today.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Montstry to find this wine...
A fine, wide, dense and predominantly red fruited nose – lovely complexity. The palate is wide and fresh and unlike the Chaumes shows lots of energy and personality. Understated length – just slowly fades – this is very lovely.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Brûlées
Only one barrel so this will not be released – so I won’t add my note, it will only make you mad that you can’t have any!
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Nuits St.Georges 1er Aux Crastry to find this wine...
From old (1920’s) mid-slope vines situated between Boudots and Richemone – Louis-Michel says that the soil is similar to that in his Vosne Reignots. The nose is faintly reductive but impresses with old-viney impression and concentration, despite its relative understatement. The palate is really very concentrated – wow! Bright, very fresh finishing. Demonstrative, powerful and impressive.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchotstry to find this wine...
This is also a little reductive, but it’s a finer and softer nose than the Nuits Aux Cras, floral notes too. It’s more linear in shape thatn the Nuits but clearly a wine to ‘chill’ to. Nicely fresh, with linear but evident length. Quite understated after the Nuits.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignotstry to find this wine...
Reductive nose – it always is from barrel – but the nose is densely packed and rather round. Lots of wines get the description, but this really is the iron fist in the velvet glove; great texture that really cushions the obvious power. Then there’s a burst of higher-again power in the mid-palate. Very convincing wine.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, Echézeauxtry to find this wine...
The nose is wide, with flashes of black fruit, faint cream mixes with savoury notes – really excellent. The palate is mouthfilling, showing some grainy, but well-behaved tannin and a real extra dimension from the mid-palate and into the finish – a long, fresh and fruit-driven finish. An Echézeaux to search for.
2006 Comte Liger-Belair, La Romanéetry to find this wine...
The barrels are still two thirds from François Freres and one third from Berthomeau. The nose is a dense core, very silky and faintly spiced. Consistently from barrel the most compelling thing about La Romanée is it’s length – 2006 is quite up-to-scratch – it just goes on and on, wider and wider. That this is is it’s most obvious attribute is is due to the impeccable balance of what comes before, just understated ‘tight’ concentration – but that finish is unmistakeable.

The following wines were bottled during the first week of February:

2005 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée La Colombièretry to find this wine...
The nose is a mix of cream and floral notes. The palate is silky and soft and shows super balance. The impression is that the wine didens as it approaches the mid-palate then slow narrows into a good finish. Showing rather well today.
2005 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée Clos du Châteautry to find this wine...
It stikes at you with a very forward red fuited and floral nose. In the mouth, lots of personality and freshness and also packs more of a punch than the Columbière. An effervescent personality that also shows just a little more length – great fun here.
2005 Comte Liger-Belair, Vosne-Romanée 1er Aux Reignotstry to find this wine...
Understated, but there are faint gunflint aromas against pure red berry. Super texture and concentration, real understated power. The acidity slowly fades into a lovely finish. Bravo
2005 Comte Liger-Belair, La Romanéetry to find this wine...
Again starts quite understated. Slowly a perfectly pure red berry note is released, eventually complemented with higher tones and flashes of cream. Less overt power than the Reignots – a little CO2 is spoiling play, and no time to wait – very sad!
Now for a little Lamadon fun

lamadon echezeauxLast year when L-M told me about the extension of his portfolio through the Lamadon holdings I mentioned that I actually had a bottle of the Lamadon Echézeaux from 1996. We joked about whether it could be any good, so I said that I’d bring it along next time – when we had something to compare it to! My bottle took a (probably) non-standard route from Lamadon, via a négociant to a French supermarket shelf. To compliment it, L-M also found a bottle of the Lamadon bottled 2003 – this had the domaine label, rather than my négoce bottle (pictured right) – so, after the 2006 what were they like?
1996 Lamadon Echézeauxtry to find this wine...
Good colour. Baked red fruit on the nose – forward but rather ungainly. The palate is actually not bad from a structure perspective – good acidity and some tannic bite – but the flavour profile was not so nice. Not one to keep in your mouth for very long.
2003 Lamadon Echézeauxtry to find this wine...
The nose is a little bizzare – almost excessively floral. The palate? Almost impossible to keep in your mouth because of a sharpness to the acidity and full-on, barely ripe tannin. Ouch.

Fortunately, and despite the title of this piece, I don’t have a ‘case’ of this wine, though I would take a case of Louis-Michel’s any day! If I remember correctly we found a little more 2005 La Romanée to take the taste away – so the Lamadon came in useful after-all!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?