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History

Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is a very recent domaine created at the beginning of the year 2000 by Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, agricultural engineer and oenologist, with those few parcels of vineyards remaining in family hands. In reality, the domaine is not at all recent ; Louis-Michel is renewing two hundred years of family tradition dedicated to the vines and wines of Burgundy in general, and to Vosne-Romanée in particular.

He created his domaine in 2000 by taking back 1.5 hectares of vineyards (Vosne-Romanée La Colombière, Clos du Château, 1er Cru Les Chaumes), and in 2002 je recovered another 1.6 hectares (Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Reignots, La Romanée).

In 2006, he rent 5.5 hectares more, including a large parcel of Echezaux, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots, Les Petits Monts and Les Brûlées, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Cras, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-Saint.Georges.
With his wife, Constance, and their three children – Henry (2002), Brune (2003), and Pia (2006), he now manages 8.7 hectares of vines in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits St. Georges, and Flagey Echezeaux.

The following ideas represent the basic principles that Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, vigneron, applies to the care of his vineyards, and the production of his wines;

The quality of the wine lies in the vineyard (95 percent of the work is in the vines, 5 percent in the winery);
All vines and all wines deserve the same care, from village appellation to grand cru. From a qualitative point of view, it is without doubt more important to reduce yields in the most modest appellations than in the more prestigious appellations;
The vine is a living entity. It should not be, nor should the grapes it carries be subjected to that which we ourselves would not tolerate ;
In the winery and in the cellar, the less one does, the better one does ;
One should not seek to overextract the grapes. All that does not come naturally (tannins, color) cannot be durably ‘ fixed’ in the wines and will therefore not be stable in the long term once in bottle.


 

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Vineyards

 

The Domaine currently applies the principles of ‘lutte raisonnée’ or sustainable agriculture, tending towards organic farming, notably for the end of year treatments. Since the Domaine was established in 2000, the question of organic farming has been considered.

The springtime and the beginning of summer constitute the period when treatments against the development of oidium and mildew take place. Louis-Michel wished to ponder the problem in its entirety. Organic farming requires at least ten treatments , whereas more conventional methods limits these treatments to six. The greater number of treatments, the more often the soils are compressed. It is essential to find a method of treatment that limits the compacting effect before moving on to organic farming.

This could have been solved by acquiring a prototype of a tractor (now produced in volume) designed by a company in the Saone et Loire weighing only 1100 kilos as opposed to the traditional three ton tractor. This lightweight ‘three wheeler’ can both treat and prune. The problems of the soil being partially resolved, there is another concern in organic viticulture: the amount of copper put into the vineyards. Effectively, the element, copper, has a toxic effect on the life of the soil and the amount needs to be limited. New formulas for biological products seem to offer smaller concentrations of copper, a development that would permit the Domaine to envisage organic farming, or even evolving to biodynamic farming.

Current treatments are limited as much as possible. Once the clusters are fully formed, usually during the second week of July, treatments are stopped. This avoids two supplementary treatments as some domaines continue treating until ripening occurs in mid-August.

No anti-rot treatments are applied for the following three reasons:

- On one hand, the necessity for such a treatment is proof that one did not know how to master the vigor of the vines

- On the other hand, it is an anti-fungicide that is used and not only does it destroy the fungi, but also the least resistant yeasts. By doing so, one is harming the total effect of a particular terroir as each terroir has its ‘panel’ of yeasts, and each yeast contributes its part to the construction of a wine

- The last of these treatments (further compacting of the soil) takes place just before the clusters are fully formed. The cluster could contain a chemical phytosanitary product that is not washed away but will be found albeit in minute quantities in the vats. This could influence vinification.

Finally, concerning the devastating enemy of vines called ‘the cluster worm’, Eudemis and Cochylis, insects who lay their eggs in the grape bunches encouraging the development of rot: the biological method is applied in the village of Vosne-Romanée by placing pheromone capsules in the vineyards that prevent the males and females of the species from meeting and mating. This is called ‘sexual confusion’.

 

It is essential to plough the vineyards and not to weed them chemically in order to let the terroirs express their characteristics. This method protects the microbiological life of the soil essential in providing harmony to the different elements that constitute the soil.


In 2002 the Domaine decided to use a horse for ploughing and hired a company that provided this service. After three years it became necessary to find a better solution, and the Domaine purchased a horse in order to continue ‘in house’ instead of outsourcing. 2005 was a time of transition between the tractor and the horse. Certain modifications needed to be done, notably removing large blocks of stone on the surface of certain rows of vines, not at all a problem for a tractor but definite obstacles for a plough drawn by a horse.
The decision to use a horse has no relationship whatsoever with publicity. If this were the case, the Domaine would not have invested in the purchase of a horse, but simply ‘rented’ a horse for its most prestigious and visible vineyards.
 

The principal interest of using a horse is to limit compacting the soil. Whatever the critics of using a horse say, a horse compacts the soil far less than a tractor. Effectively, the step of a horse is random and never occurs in exactly the same place. Perhaps the compression is heavy under the weight of the horse’s shoe but it always occurs in a different place. In the case of a tractor, the pressure and weight are homogenous on the entire length and width of a row. The soil tilled by the tractor’s front wheels, is immediately pressed down by the tractor’s back wheel. One could consider that it is possible to weed mechanically using a tractor but never to plough.

Finally, it is noticeable that compacting is more evident in predominantly clay-ey rather than limestone soils. Clay soils are found principally at the base of the Côte d’Or slopes and in the plain of the Saône in village appellations. Therefore it appears to be important to plough in the village appellations rather than in the grands and premiers crus…

 

Domaine Liger-Belair is presently composed of twelve appellations, comprising 5.53 hectares,  situated in the communes of Vosne-Romanée, Flagey-Echézeaux, and Nuits-St-Georges. These include the monopole Grand Cru La Romanée (.84 ha.), and a parcel of Grand Cru Echézeaux (.6 ha.); a most impressive lineup of Vosne-Romanée, Premiers Crus — Aux Reignots (.75 ha), Les Suchots (.22 ha) ,  Aux Brûlees (.12 ha) ,  Les Petits Monts (.13 ha), Les Chaumes (.12 ha); 3 parcels of village-level Vosne-Romanée, totaling 2.26 hectares, including the monopole lieu-dit Clos du Château  (.83 ha.) , the lieu-dit La Colombière (.78 ha.), and a third village-leval parcel of .65 hectares ; together with two parcels of Nuits-St-Georges, the one a parcel of Premier Cru Les Cras  (.37 ha.) and the other a parcel of the lieu-dit Les Lavières (.13 ha.).     

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Winemaking

Louis-Michel believes that once the grapes are put on the sorting table at the entry to the winery, 95 percent of the work has been done. The remaining five percent is not a recipe but the application of certain basic principles, a dose of intuition, and an understanding of each vintage.

The Domaine hopes to bring in the grapes, once ripe, as quickly as possible and to avoid harvesting a single parcel over a two day period.

The grapes are brought to the winery in small perforated cases that hold fourteen kilos of grapes, the small size used in order to avoid crushing the bunches. Sorting is done by a team of eight on a sorting table, the grapes are entirely destemmed and arrive in the vats by means of a conveyor belt without being pumped or crushed.

As soon as the grapes are in the vat, they are lightly sulphured and cooled down to a temperature below fifteen degrees C°; this temperature is maintained for around a week. This enhances the aromatics , essential element of the Domaine wines. After a week, the fermentations begin naturally within a few days without the use of non-indigenous yeasts.

 

The fermentation is done in about ten days and concluded, if necessary, with a delicate chaptalization added over two or three days depending on the vintage. During the fermentation, pumping over and ‘pigéage’ are regularly carried out. When the fermentations are finished, the wines are devatted based on tasting them three times a day, and according to the characteristics of the vintage.

 

The grapes are then pressed.

The free run wine and the press wine are then blended and left in vats to settle the lees, a process that takes close to ten days, before transferring the wines into barrel when they are as clear as possible, since the wines are rarely racked during the aging process. Clarification enzymes are used to hasten the process should the vintage require this step. The wines are put into barrel by gravity in the cellar.

The wines are aged in new oak: two different cooperages and three different forests. Malolactic fermentations begin naturally either before or after the first winter succeeding the harvest. The wines stay in barrel with the least number of rackings possible and with no additional sulphur until the racking preceding bottling.

This racking is done without pumping, the wines being pushed by air and blended (by appellation) in bottling vats, usually 13 to 15 months after harvest. The wines are then sulphured and left to rest for two to three months in tank. There is neither fining nor filtration before bottling.

Bottling is done by gravity with the help of a small bottling unit at the bottom of the tank. The bottles are corked with a corking machine enabling the air to be evacuated in the compression chamber. The corks are not placed in a large funnel but one by one in a column so that each cork can be verified so that the best end of the cork will come into contact with the wine.

The wines are then stocked in pallets and are shipped after at least two months of rest. Most of the wines leave the Domaine in wooden cases. Each bottle is wrapped in tissue paper and straw protectors (when authorized).

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Inside information

HISTORY

The Liger-Belair family settled in Vosne when Louis Liger-Belair, napoleonic general, acquired the Chateau of Vosne in 1815. The domaine grew considerably under the general’s direction and that of Louis-Charles, his adopted son who was the son of his sister. Louis-Charles married Ludovie Marey, a well-known family who owned vineyards and had been negoçiants since the eighteenth century.

When the Comte Louis-Charles died, the family’s holdings covered more than sixty hectares principally in the Côte de Nuits with ownership of some of France’s most prestigious appellations: the monopolies of La Romanée, La Tâche, La Grande Rue, a large portion of Malconsorts, parcels of Chaumes, Reignots, and Suchots in Vosne Romanée, Saint Georges and Vaucrains in Nuits St. Georges, Clos Vougeot and Cras in Vougeot, Chambolle, Morey, as well as Chambertin. In addition, a domaine of fifteen hectares at Fleurie in the Beaujolais.

The Comte Henri Liger-Belair, grandson of the Comte Louis-Charles, the eldest child of the family and great grandfather of Louis-Michel died in 1924. He left a wife and ten children in possession of twenty-four hectares of vines and the chateau. The domaine held together until the death of the Comtesse Liger-Belair in 1931. The ten children were still there but two were minors and the law of that era required that all children must be of age in order to distribute the inheiritance or the estate must be sold. Three of the family members did not want to wait until the younger children reached legal adulthood and insisted that the entirety of the domaine be put up for sale. A sad August 31st, 1933 at the town hall of Vosne Romanée when the vineyards were auctioned off. The children witnessed the departure from their patrimony of La Tache, the Malconsorts, the Brulée…..However, two of the children, Just, a priest, and his brother, the Comte Michel, Louis-Michel’s grandfather, banded together to buy back La Romanée, Reignots, and les Chaumes. The vineyards were entrusted to local vignerons, and sales to Burgundian negoçiants.

The Comte Michel died in 1941, during the war before he could redevelop the Domaine. His son, the Comte Henry, Louis Michel’s father, enlisted in the army in 1949, pursued a brilliant career and rose to the rank of general following in the footsteps of his ancestor six generations earlier. He managed the domaine leaving vineyard work to sharecroppers, and commercialization to various shippers.

When he was eight years old Louis-Michel informed his parents that he intended to live in Vosne-Romanée when he grew up. His father informed Louis-Michel that he could not take charge of the domaine unless he became an engineer. Therefore, Louis-Michel majored in science, is a qualified agricultural engineer, has a degree in commerce, and a diploma in oenology from the University of Dijon.

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15 different wines with 96 vintages

People

  • Louis-Michel Liger-Belair

    Vigneron
    I have tasted some 1923’s, the last vintage of my great-grandfather. I felt there was a family style, even if I have never met my great-grandfather. I feel we have the same winemaking approach. What he did then is similar to what I do now. It is there, in the wine.

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  46 wines 

2005 - A magnificent red wine vintage in Burgundy. This was a dry year, though never particularly hot, save for a heat-wave in May. A hail-storm on 17 July devastated the vines between the villages of Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet. After a mixed August, and much-needed rain on 6 September, the skies cleared and it became increasingly sunny and warm. The Côte d'Or harvest began in the middle of the month and was all but complete by the week-end of 1st. October.


Now ten years old, the red wines, though many are still rather closed, are well deserving of all the bally-hoo they engendered at the outset. The vintage is consistently good (except naturally in Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet) from Marsannay to Maranges, as well as proportionately so from grand cru to the humblest generic. Few past vintages come close. Perhaps the nearest is 1999, but that was a very much more generous harvest. The relative shortness of the 2005 crop can be seen in the concentration of the wines. They also have depth, finesse, harmony and the potential to last. But they are not monolithic. What more do you want? Don't start opening the best until 2020 or so.

9d 9h ago

 Michael Chan, Wine Blogger (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Krug Clos du Mesnil 2003 / Purchased by Krug over the phone in 1971, the Clos du Mesnil is a 4.5 acre walled plot planted only with Chardonnay grapes. This vintage is marked by extreme hot weathers which made different plots of land yield different maturation levels. As a result, the berry picking span over 2 months than the customary 2 weeks. Aged for 9 years before release, this champagne pours a light straw color, almost like that of a Sauvignon Blanc, with thick legs and very fine beads. A somewhat austere wine, this Blanc de Blanc yields notes of toast, white peaches, citrus oils, Comté, mint, chalk, tobacco smoke, slate and cream desserts on the nose. On the palate, the wine first caresses the tongue with robust masculinity, followed by a string of very fine bubbles and a mineral-forward backbone. Surprisingly for a vintage with very ripe berries, the champagne has vibrant acidity while maintaining an unctuous structure. On the palate, the champagne is dominated by notes of chalk, honeysuckle, leather, smoke, charred oak, brioche and smoked fish. With time, there are even notes of citrus oils. The finish is very long and spins with more smokiness. Although the wine is very young, as shown through the astringency towards the end, it surely shows the promise in years to come. 95p

5m 14d ago

 Clive Coates / MW, Wine Writer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  44 wines 

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2010 / 20.0 points.


Fine colour. Aromatic, minerally nose. Not as fat as La Tache or Richebourg. A bit more of the stems. Best on the follow through. Very, very lovely complex fruit. Marvelous long, lingering finish. Truly excellent.

5m 18d ago

 Sebastien Abric / Acker Merrall & Condit, Pro (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  10 wines 

MY TOP 10 WINES OF THE 2016


1. Hermitage La Chapelle 1961


2. Château Lafite 1959.....

8m 14d ago

 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  7 wines 

“Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1945 / This to me was a remarkable wine, a bit like many ‘45’s in its power and concentration. I described it as a sumptuous riot of fruit. And while those who are after some more of the La Chapelle structure may be disappointed (and I have sympathy with aspects of the assessment), this is such an effulgent expression of fruit and terroir, that I can really only cheer. Plums, orange zest, pepper and currants on the enticing nose. The palate is awash in luscious, sweet fruit, soy tinged, with melting tannins, round and soft, pure velvet past the mid palate, and it finishes with gusto, batons twirling, with layered exuberance and appealing length. 96 Points++”

1y 1m ago

 Rajiv Kehr, Pro (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  5 wines 

“Dinner at Le Millésime in Chambolle Musigny - I must have graduated from knowing the difference between white and red wine because Jean-Luc Pepin presented a wine blind. I dived into my memory bank for the most recent experience having drank the Les Amoureuses 2007 recently in London and projected back to the oldest that I have drank - a 1969 Bonnes Mares. The colour was aged with a nose to indicate maturity but the freshness was also there. It turned out to be a magical bottle of Musigny 2007. 99 points Thank you Jean-Luc

1y 4m ago

 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  37 wines 

“This year’s La Paulee was in San Francisco, and on the Friday night before the big gala, a few lucky gentlemen were invited to dinner at Quince, thanks to the efforts of Tom Terrific and Dapper Dave. Magnums were the theme, and Burgundy was the given. There weren’t too many wines to forgive, as almost everything showed spectacularly. Accordingly, this was an evening no one would forget.”

1y 5m ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  12 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  12 wines 

“12 vintage vertical of La Romanée”

1y 6m ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  8 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  8 wines 

“2006-2013Magnum vertical of Comte Liger-Belair ”

1y 7m ago

 Rajiv Kehr, Pro (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  3 wines 

“I recently had a chance to taste 3 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru – all situated in the upper reaches of Vosne. Aux Reignots from Liger-Belair side by side with Les Beaux Monts from Dujac and Domaine Leroy.

All 3 wines were in a similar phase, approachable and enjoyable but not yet at their apogee. All 3 exhibited the classic Vosne spice on the nose with the Aux Reignots exhibiting a cool restraint and pronounced refined elegant minerality. All 3 wines were silky and fresh.

The Domaine Leroy Les Beaux Monts had the Leroy hallmark of being so flamboyant, sexy almost in your face but with great balance and finesse. No chance to beat her wines for their exuberance and intensity yet never loosing their balance.

However it was the Dujac which for me in this line up just inched forward with a bit more concentration than the Aux Reignots and a touch more restraint than the Leroy allowing it to achieve the perfect balance of weight, power, minerality, finish and complexity even though the Leroy was all of that and more.”

1y 7m ago

 Thomas Alsgaard, Pro (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  15 wines 

“Good looking normal size bottle of Châteay d' Yquem 1975 in a excellent condition and has bottom neck level. Colour is gold, and looking bright and deep. On the nose it is intense, refined, fresh and seductive. The taste is fresh, elegant, fragrant, fat, refined, full-bodied, with perfectly balanced and complex structure. On the palate it is layered and has tropical fruits, honey, white fruits, licorice, perfumed and vanilla flavours. The finish is long, extensive, flavorful and vibrant. This wine is intelligent, sophisticated and outstanding. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 20-30 years and decant at least 2h before tasting.
99 points”

1y 7m ago

 Rajiv Kehr, Pro (India)  tasted  6 wines  from  Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair . In a tasting of  6 wines 

“Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Echezeaux 2014 Cask Sample - Outstanding 97 points / Production of 3000 bottles from 60 year old wines. His 2014 Echezeaux is by far the best Echezeaux I have tasted to date from any producer including Liger-Belair. It was downright sexy and compelling in its beauty. I can still taste the bottle. Exhibiting red fruit which is what I seek but with power making it the perfect profile for my taste. ”

1y 8m ago

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