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2010 Echezeaux, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
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Scores and Reviews
The Liger-Belair family has a glorious history combining the church, the army and the wine trade. The first General Liger-Belair acquired the Chateau de Vosne-Romanée in 1815, as well as various vineyards, and when his nephew and adopted heir married a Marey heiress, the empire grew rapidly: at one point the Liger-Belairs owned La Tâche, La Romanée, La Grande Rue and significant holdings of Clos de Vougeot and Chambertin, along with an array of Vosne-Romanée premiers crus including vines in Malconsorts, Chaumes, Reignots, Suchots and Brûlées.
Unfortunately, complicated succession issues meant that the whole domaine was sold at auction in August 1933. Canon Just Liger-Belair and Comte Michel Liger-Belair between them managed to save La Romanée and small holdings of Aux Reignots and Les Chaumes. Comte Michel’s son Comte Henri devoted his career to the army, reaching the rank of general like his forebear, so the vines were looked after by sharecroppers and the wines sold through négociants.
Vicomte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair decided to recreate the family wine domaine in 2000, beginning with two plots of Vosne-Romanée and premier cru Les Chaumes. Two years later he took back control of Aux Reignots and La Romanée, although a commercial contract with Bouchard Père & Fils to distribute a proportion of the latter continued until 2006. In that year also a further 5.5 hectares of vineyards, on a farming contract from the Lamadon family, brought the domaine up to its present size.
The aim is to pick quickly once the grapes are ripe, sort them thoroughly on a table de tri, remove all the stalks and then cool the grapes to below 15ºC/59ºF for a week of pre-maceration. After the fermentation, using more pumping over than punching down, Louis-Michel likes a significant settling off the lees so that the wines will not need racking. They are raised mostly in new wood from two different coopers and three forests, then assembled in tank after 13 to 15 months and bottled two to three months later without fining or filtration.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Originally known as Nuits, or even Nuits-sous-Beaune, the town was happy to add the name of its finest vineyard, Les St Georges, in the 19th century. There are no Grands Crus, but many fine Premier Cru vineyards, the mayor of the time – Henri Gouges – preferring not to single out any vineyard for the highest status.The wines of Nuits-St Georges vary according to their exact provenance. Those of the hamlet of Prémeaux, considered to be part of Nuits-St Georges for viticultural purposes, are often on the lighter side.
The richest and most sought-after are those just south of Nuits-St Georges such as Les Vaucrains, Les Cailles and Les St Georges itself. The third sector, including Les Murgers, Les Damodes and Les Boudots are at the Vosne-Romanée end of the village, and demonstrate some of the extra finesse associated with Vosne.
Several domaines (Gouges, Rion, Arlot) now produce a white Nuits-St Georges from Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay.
- 175 hectares of village Nuits-St Georges
- 143 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (20 in all). Best vineyards include Les St Georges, and Clos des Argillières and Clos de la Maréchale in Prémeaux
- Recommended producers: Gouges, Rion, Liger Belair, Potel
- Recommended restaurant : La Cabotte (small but stylish)