Burgundy's Fresh Prince: Liger-Belair

Posted by CrushWine

The Newest Member of Burgundy's Pantheon
2007 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
La Romanée - Echézeaux - Aux Reignots
Petits Monts - Clos du Château

For the serious Burgundy collector - those of you who seek DRC, Leroy, Rousseau, Roumier - add this name to your list: Liger-Belair.

Since its creation in 2000, this estate has forced its way into the very top echelon of Burgundy.

This is a domaine with a mere ten-year official track record, and yet whispered rumors have it that the 2007 Liger-Belairs are on the short list of the best in all of Burgundy.

Today we are proud to have available the only tranche of these wines in the nation: Grand crus La Romanée and Echézeaux, 1er crus Aux Reignots and Petits Monts, and village monopole Clos du Château.

To be sure, storied vineyards like these don’t sound like those of a Burgundy newcomer. On the surface, this is a story of a new domaine acquiring phenomenal vineyard holdings and bursting onto the scene with a willed greatness and undeniably extraordinary results. The story is only more impressive set in the tightly-knit world of Burgundy.

In reality, the Liger-Belair domaine is not at all a recent creation; owner/winemaker Louis-Michel is renewing a two-hundred-year-old family tradition that began when Napoleonic general Louis Liger-Belair acquired the Chateau of Vosne in 1815. Under his and his son’s direction, the family’s holdings grew to cover over 60 hectares of land including the monopolies of La Romanée, La Tâche and La Grande Rue. Due to an unfortunate inheritance law, the domaine had to be sold in 1933 before two of the brothers were able to buy back some of the vineyards. These were tended by sharecroppers until Louis-Michel returned to the scene a decade ago.

Confident in the thoroughbred terroir and armed with an enology degree from the University of Dijon, the young and ambitious Louis-Michel took charge with a mindset that “all vines and all wines deserve the same care, from village appellation to grand cru.”

The most relevant comparison I can think of is Lalou-Bize Leroy, who created a whirlwind beginning in the 80s when she bought up a bunch of old sites and turned out pure royalty. The difference here is that Liger-Belair has acquired only the choicest plots - those that are blue blood through and through. The resultant wines are deep, endlessly curving and remarkably nuanced monuments of terroir.

And like Leroy's, Liger-Belair’s wines trump their quality designation: The village wines drink like real premier crus; the premier crus like grand crus… and the grand crus are superstars of site. They sit verily among the giants.

When I tasted the 2007s with Louis-Michel, Tim Kopec of Veritas, Michel Couvreux of Per Se and MS Laura Maniec, I was floored by their quality. Yes, these wines are commanding substantial price tags, and without the long history of vintages, it’s fair to ask: Are they worth it? My answer is an unequivocal yes. The quality is so obviously there - a clear pedigree allowed to speak in its most eloquent form: ultimate freshness matched with serious weight and backed by enchanting finesse and the purest sense of place.

In just ten years, Liger-Belair has secured a place on the shortlist of the greatest domains in Burgundy. This is the perfect vintage to get on our very limited list of Liger-Belair allocations. With 08 and 09 on the horizon, the window might be closed sooner than you think.

While La Romanée and Echézeaux are the obvious aces in today's offering, for me it's all about the 1er crus of Aux Reignots, Petits Monts, and the village monopole Clos du Château, which is not to be missed. Louis-Michel gives as much attention to his village wines as he does his grand crus, and it clearly shows. These are strong examples for 1ers that drink more like grand crus and a village wine that easily outshines plenty of 1ers I've tasted from elsewhere. The Burghound flies into a frenzy trying to describe the awesome experience - see his full tasting notes below. 

For those interested, we encourage you to respond as soon as possible. Though we have what must be the U.S.'s largest parcel of the 2007s, this amounts to little more than a few cases. Please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463 with your maximum request; we will confirm all orders at the end of today.

Robert Schagrin
Managing Partner
Crush Wine & Spirits


2007 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair

La Romanée
Please inquire for price
Burghound: "As it usually is, the nose is positively kaleidoscopic with a wonderful breadth of red and black fruit aromas, violets and Asian spice nuances that continues onto the rich, full and very stylish medium full flavors blessed with impressive amounts of supporting mid-palate sap that relegate the firm tannic spine to the background for the moment before exploding into a youthfully austere and mouth coating finish that seems to go on and on. This is not an especially big La Romanée but like several of its brethren, it's tightly focused, balanced and carries enormous flavor authority.

Special Email Bottle Price: $299.95
Burghound: This is the first wine to have shown any appreciable reduction though the sappy, dense and powerful flavors are actually quite fresh and energetic as they display both power and precision on the muscled, focused and driving finish. This is completely different from the Reignots and does not have the same delicacy or refinement though it does have more obvious power. A qualitative choice but the reader should note that these are two very different wines.

1er Aux Reignots
Special Email Bottle Price: $239.95
Liger-Belair's 2007 gives this 1er a strong argument for being elevated to grand cru status; adjacent to La Romanee on the map, it comes with unbelievable structure for a premier cru.

Burghound: As it was from barrel, this remains the coolest and most reserved nose in the range with ultra elegant, pure and airy aromas of primarily blue and black fruits that exude background notes of a fine spiciness and violets that lead to austere, minerally and linear flavors that possess ample mid-palate sap that coats and stains the palate before finishing with a flourish. This is a classic Reignots that is focused like a laser and while the flavors are not especially big, they carry a disproportionate impact. Terrific.

1er Petits Monts
Special Email Bottle Price: $229.95
This is the definition of balance with pitch-perfect freshness married to impressive depth and underlying power.

Burghound: A much cooler and more restrained nose of red and blue pinot fruit with stone, crushed fennel, soy and clove notes that are also reflected back by the tight, pure, detailed and tension-filled flavors that culminate in a focused and very precise finish that delivers admirable length. This is an intensely mineral infused middle weight wine whose strength is intense flavor authority without undue weight. In a word, a lovely wine offering that rare combination of power and finesse.

Clos du Château
Special Email Bottle Price: $94.95
A monopole of Liger-Belair that used to be home to the Chateau of Vosne-Romanee’s park, this offers especially fine class and grace in a village wine. Its commanding structure and refined aromatics easily outshining plenty of premier crus I’ve tasted from elsewhere.

Burghound: Here the nose offers yet another step up in aromatic refinement with a more deeply pitched nose of red and black pinot fruit, plum, herb and floral notes that dissolve into spicy, pure, detailed and energetic flavors that evince a lovely sense of underlying tension on the subtly mineral suffused finish. This too is on the understated side with class and grace. Also worth a look.