La Romanée's tiny 0.84ha, under half the size of its neighbour La Romanée-Conti, make it the smallest Appellation Controlée in France. A monopoly of the Liger Belair family since the 1830s, La Romanée is just above La Romanée-Conti and therefore has a slightly steeper slope and shallower soil. Since 2002 the wine has been made by Vicomte Louis Michel Liger-Belair who heads up the Domaine du Comte Liger Belair estate, turning La Romanée into one of the truely great Burgundies it always had the potential to be. Though closed and reserved in its youth, the wine habitually displays an elegance and haunting brilliance, and after a minimum of 7-10 year's bottle age blossoms into one of the very best red wines in Burgundy, if not the world. Approximately 300 cases are made each year.
Louis-Michel Liger-Belair’s wines keep getting better. The improvement is less a reflection of the underlying vintages and more the result of the work the estate has done to convert their vineyards to biodynamic farming. These are some of the most unique and compelling wines being made anywhere in Burgundy. The house style emphasizes the weightless transparency, finesse and sweetness that only Pinot Noir (and perhaps Nebbiolo) is capable of. As good as the 2010s are, the 2009s have also turned out beautifully. I will report on those wines in the April issue. Readers may also want to check out my video interview with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair posted on www.erobertparker.com for more historical perspective on the domaine.
BURGUNDY 2017 - In 2017, everything came good for the Bourgogne winegrowing region in terms of both quality and quantity. And after several years of harvests that suffered the whims of the weather, 2017 has provided volumes set to satisfy the market, with wines that are already promising great things to come from this elegant vintage.
After spending the winter building up their strength, the vines profited fully from a very warm spring, with budburst in early April ensuring a head start in terms of the growth cycle that was maintained right up to the harvest. The plants progressed from stage to stage free from hindrance, and by mid - June, were flowerin g before rapid fruit set. An early vintage was confirmed.
During the summer, a few spells of heatwave alternated with more mixed weather. However, ripening continued at a good pace and by the end of August, the first grapes were being picked, two weeks a head of average . Harvesting continued until mid - September as each plot reached peak maturity . The grapes were in exceptional health and required virtually no sorting. Everyone was very enthu siastic about this fabulous fruit, its peak ripeness, and the volumes produced. The only downside were a few areas hit by spring frosts , where yields were below norms .
Vinification went without a hitch and the mood was one of serenity for this vintage wh en the Bourgogne winegrowing region returned to more habitual levels of quality and quantity.
From the north to the south of the Bourgogne winegrowing region, opinion is unanimous: The 2017 vintage is one of the most elegant expressions of the Chardonnay grape, with perfectly balanced wines and a wonderful aromatic profile. They are crisp , with notes of citrus and white - fleshed fruit. Aeration triggers the release of h ints of peach and apricot, while in the mouth, minerality and tension balance out this rich, fruit - filled palette. A very fine vintage indeed!
Intense, dazzling colors ranging from ruby to garnet. From first glance, these wines simply invite one to taste them. Notes of red and black berries in these extremely expressive wines are another sign of indulgence, while perfect balance in the mouth comb ined with silky tannins results in a very harmonious ensemble that is subtle and without opulence.