Tasting of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair 2002 – 2009

Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is one of the rising stars of Burgundy, and after 10 years of production one of the very top domaines in Vosne Romanee.

Louis-Michel Liger-Belair took over in 2000 and has gradually expanded the domaine and the portfolio of wines during the past 10 years. I have followed the wines since some of the first vintages and tasted quite a lot of the wines produced over the years.

The quality has gradually improved over the years, and while the wines produced during the first years are very fine, it seems quality has improved significantly especially during the recent vintages.

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To get a more clear picture of this development the Danish importer Vinrosen made a very fine tasting of different wines and vintages – with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair present to explain the vintages and the evolution of the domaine and the vinification.

The tasting at Sölleröd Kro

The tasting was held at the one star Michelin restaurant Söllerød Kro just outside of Copenhagen.

The wines tasted at the event on November 1st, 2012 was:

  • Vosne Romanee Clos du Chateau 2006, 2007 and 2009
  • Vosne Romanee Aux Reignots 2006, 2007 and 2009
  • Echezeaux 2006, 2007 and 2009
  • Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Cras 2007 – magnum
  • Vosne Romanee Aux Reignots 2004 – magnum
  • Vosne Romanee les Suchots 2006 – magnum
  • La Romanee 2002

The first nine wines were served in three flights, whereas the last four wines were served during the excellent lunch prepared by the talented team at Sölleröd Kro. Always a pleasure to enjoy the food and service at Sölleröd kro. The magnum bottles served at the lunch came from the domaine cellars.

Impressions from the tasting

The vintages served were quite different both in style and quality and it’s somewhat difficult to draw too firm conclusions based on this tasting alone. But paired with the experience from tasting other vintages of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, the picture is more complete and clear.

Firstly the quality from the beginning was very high – the 2002 La Romanee is truly great – it was really a treat to taste this lovely wine.

Moving forward the quality seems to take quite a leap forward from 2006. While 2009 is a significantly better vintage than 2006 and 2007, i’m pretty sure the improvements at the domaine also contributed to the very succesful wines in the 2009 vintage.

The recent vintages (2009, 2010 and 2011) show, in my view, a even higher level of purity in the fruit – the intensity and depth in the fruit seems higher. The wines are still approachable and very seductive, but the complexity and transparancy seems higher.

It’s not a dramatic change in style, but it’s adding up to be a significant improvement of quality, and taking the Domaine forward this is very promising. While the 2002 La Romanee is a great and very seductive wine, I’m pretty sure Louis-Michel would have made a even better wine today – given the conditions for the 2002 vintage.

Factors behind the quality improvement

I asked Louis-Michel to point out some of the main factores behind the improved quality, and he gave this answer: … “making a wine is a succession of 250 small decisions, but I think that we begin to have the result of a high quality viticulture for 10 years. The roots work well and since the 2008 vintage for some, 2009 for others, and later for some others, we have a real improvement of the density of the wines”.

He points out that it takes between 7 to 10 years to clean a soil, after the change to organic and biodynamic farming. Some of the vineyards – Clos du Chateau, Colombiere, Aux Reignots and La Romanee are more or less through this proces, while the new vineyards, on lease from Lamadon, just have started this journey.

Louis-Michel also mentions a new press (acquired for the 2009 vintage) and new facilities for bottling and storage as factors behind the improvement of quality in recent years.

Quality moving forward

I think it’s important to note that some of the vineyards still are quite new for this estate, and will most likely improve further due to the gradual effects of the organic and biodynamic farming. If this proces takes 10 years – then the Echezeaux, Les Petits Monts, Aux Cras, Les Suchots and Aux Brulee will continue to improve relative to the other wines during the next vintages.

The Echezeaux has really improved in the recent vintages, and is now claiming it’s Grand Cru status when compared with the Aux Reignots – it will be very exiting to follow this development in the next vintages.

Thanks for a great tasting

The quantities of the Domaine du Comte Liger-Belairs wines are very limited, and it was therefore a great treat to attend this tasting – sincere thanks to Vinrosen for giving me the possibility to taste these fine wines. Also special thanks to Louis-Michel for taking the time to explain the wines and details about the vinification.

- a lovely afternoon – the rest of the tasting notes will follow shortly!

Tasting Notes from the tasting at Sölleröd Kro

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