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Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair

December 31, 2010

I’d been introduced to this estate through Caveau and Vinum’s annual sale, and the wines I’ve had had acquited themselves very well in terms of both quality and pricing. A 4-course tasting dinner, organised by Bistro du Vin on 29 Nov 2010 for SGD98++ with Monsieur Thibault Liger-Belair the young winemaker himself in attendance, proved to be an irresistible draw and I found myself in the company of like-minded usual suspects. The estate itself has been around for the past 250 years, founded in 1720, and is predominantly sited in Nuits Saint-Georges, with holdings in Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanee and Clos Vougeot as well, embracing biodynamic practices from 2005 onwards.

We began with a 2007 Thibault Liger-Belair Hautes Cotes de Nuits “Clos du Prieure” to go along with the selection of canapes. Dull ruby red with a bouquet of dark red fruits and glycerin imparting some sweetness. Rather undifferentiated on palate. Somewhat hollow at the finish, but gained weight with time, fleshing out. The next wine that followed was presented as a mystery wine, but there was something vaguely familiar about the fruit, which tended towards the sweet end, not unlike cordial. Of course, it was the Beaujolais character, the unique taste of gamay which is dominant in this region. But this wine, being pressed from vines with an average age of 60 years, was significantly darker, deeper and richer in color and flavour, showing good concentration, gaining in intensity over time. Still primal but harmonious, transparent, with a long minty finish. This was the 2009 Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin a Vent VV Grand Cru, aged 8 months in old barrels 2-3 years of age. I found it very agreeable, even though one tends to be put off by the mere mention of gamay.

We moved to Nuits Saint-Georges. The first was a 2007 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits St-Georges “La Charmotte“, a village, paired with pan-seared foie gras. Classic pinot hue. Subdued on the nose, although it was quite open on the palate, revealing good body and concentration of red fruits with a glycerin coating, becoming more complex over time. The 2007 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits St-Georges “Les Saint Georges” 1er Cru that followed, from a plot that some regard as being deserving of Grand Cru status, was more complex right off the blocks, showing a lovely clear pinot tint, very open on the nose with loads of red currants, revealing excellent depth, richness and concentration on the palate, supported by forest floor and minerally notes, opening up even further with time. Excellent with the roasted guinea fowl.

The final pair, drunk with pork belly confit, was noticeably a couple of notches higher in quality. The 2007 Thibault Liger-Belair Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, a huge plot that may often disappoint because of its great variability in quality, held up well. A lovely pinot tint led to an open, voluptuous nose that’s predominantly rose-scented, undoubtedly charming. Layered on the palate and peppered with a bit of spice, a big wine that’s still somewhat unresolved towards the finish. The best was, rightly, left to the end: a 2007 Successeurs Thibault Liger-Belair Corton les Renardes Grand Cru. Deeply complex on the nose. Still tightly coiled and fairly intense on the palate, quite concentrated, ending in a long smoky sexy finish. An intellectual wine, a property that excellent burgundies are fully capable of. The winemaker may be young, but he sure knows his stuff.

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