2017 Chambolle-Musigny, Les Gruenchers, 1er Cru, Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs, Burgundy
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Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair
Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair is part of our Spotlight on sustainability series. You can view the full range here.Thibault Liger-Belair is cousin to Vicomte Liger Belair of Vosne Romanée. In 2001 he took over an old family property in Nuits St Georges, taking back the vines which had been contracted out to various share croppers, and leased a cuverie just down the road. The family jewels (his branch) consist of Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot and Nuits St Georges Les St Georges, to which he has added further vineyards and a few additional cuvées made from purchased grapes.
The vines are now certified organic and farmed biodynamically, with horses used to plough the vineyards where possible. The grapes are rigorously sorted on a table de tri, then destalked and fermented without much punching down or pumping over. They will be racked once during the elevage, but Thibault is not afraid of reductive flavours at this stage which, he feels, adds to the eventual substance and complexity of the wine. The oak regime is not to exceed 50% new barrels but also not to use any barrels more than three years old. The natural style of Thibault’s wines is plump and full-bodied, though the benefits of his farming methods seem to be bringing a more mineral aspect to the fruit as well.
The natural style of Thibault’s wines is plump and full-bodied, though the benefits of his farming methods seem to be bringing a more mineral aspect to the fruit as well.
Chambolle produces the most elegant wines in the Côte de Nuits, having more active chalk and less clay in the soil than the other villages. The wines may be a little lighter in colour and less tannic than Gevrey-Chambertin but they have a sublime concentration of fruit. Village Chambolle-Musigny usually provides excellent value.
Le Musigny is one of the top half-dozen vineyards in Burgundy, producing wines of extraordinary intensity and yet with a magical velvety character. Les Amoureuses is immediately appealing, a wonderfully sensual wine which deserves Grand Cru status. Bonnes Mares tends to have a firmer structure and ages very well
- 94 hectares of village Chambolle-Musigny.
- 61 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (24 in all). The finest vineyards include Les Amoureuses, Les Charmes, Les Fuées, Les Baudes and Sentiers.
- 24 hectares of Grand Cru vineyard - Bonnes Mares and Le Musigny.
- Recommended producers: de Vogüé, Mugnier, Roumier, Barthod.
- Recommended restaurant: Le Chambolle
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.
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Sadly, this is the final vintage of this cuvée for Thibault, as the vineyard owner (from whom Thibault was renting) has decided to take the parcel back. Six barrels were made. The wine has a smoky note of reduction, along with lovely purity of fruit. The palate is rich and sweet, with juicy freshness and cleansing minerality. There are broad shoulders, but the wine remains elegantly Chambolle in profile. Drink 2022-2028.
Thibault continues to keep himself busy, having bought more vineyards in Moulinà-Vent. In the Côte d’Or he waited until 13th September to pick, feeling that the skins were not ripe until that point. He describes the vintage as transparent, where each vineyard’s identity is clearly visible, and one where those with large yields will not be able to hide. In the Beaujolais, hail was again a significant factor, reducing the average yield for those wines he made to an eye-watering 8hl/ha. The damage was so bad that it cost more to pick the grapes than he will make on the wines, but he felt a duty to harvest and vinify the fruit. With careful use of the vibrating sorting table, he was able to carefully select only the clean fruit and has made exceptional wines.
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