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Ric visits Domaine Philippe Livera

November 18, 2018

Many domaines in Burgundy are witnessing succession changes where the winemaking is being taken over by a younger generation, just as the incumbent had done so from its predecessor. The key difference is that the current generation of younger winemakers, thanks to a connected world nowadays, are better exposed to new ideas and exchange of knowledge that are likely to lead to better quality. Domaine Philippe Livera, which we visited in the afternoon of 29 October 2018 in the old part of Gevrey, is a classic example. Established in 1920 and known formerly as Domaine des Tilleuls where most of its wines were sold off as bulk, the reins were passed from Philippe Livera to his son Damien (the fourth generation) in 2005, who promptly effected necessary changes that have resulted in a quantum leap in quality. The domaine began bottling under its own name. Yields are low, organic viticulture and plowing are in place, harvesting by hand with 100% de-stemming, grapes are very lightly pressed with minimal lees contact while racking is carried out according to the moon phases. New oak is used a bit more liberally, up to 40% for the village wines while its Chapelle-Chambertin receives even more. Working with his sister Helene, the last four vintages have been made entirely by them without the influence of Philippe. Working on 8 hectares of family-owned vines in Gevrey-Chambertin and the northern Cote-de-Nuits, Damien brings out real quality in his Marsannay and Fixin that would have been quite unimaginable a decade earlier. I was especially struck by its Fixin and Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village, both beautifully made and gorgeous, the latter planted just right in front of the estate and essentially a quasi-monopole of the domaine as nobody else bottles a Clos Village. Its Chapelle-Chambertin vines are located just below Clos de Beze. This is a really promising domaine, offering great quality for value. One wishes the talented Damien and his sister have access to other prime parcels in Gevrey.

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Helene & Damien Livera

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Bourgogne Blanc. From Gevrey. Very pale, closed on the nose though the palate is quite attractive. Very fresh, clean and lively, imbued with supple light green fruits melons laced with excellent acidity, finishing with a glowing minty floral flourish. Quite lovely.

2016 Domaine Philippe Livera Bourgogne Rouge. Deep in colour but shut. Quite pleasant on the palate where dark fruits dominate with some earthiness, showing good acidity supported by a minerally base, just a tad short. No new wood.

2016 Domaine Philippe Livera Fixin. Good colour, exuding aromatic dark fruits with cedary tones. Well extracted, displaying good density and concentration with very fine acidity, structured with very finely-grained tannins, carrying good weight, freshness and intensity, imparting very good mouthfeel.  40% new wood. Very fine.

2016 Domaine Philippe Livera Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village. From 1.3 ha of rocky terroir. Deep colour. Attractive bouquet of ripe dark plums. Good extraction, producing fine concentration and acidity with a delicious gentle depth of ripe dark berries. Quite seamless. Lovely spicy finish. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Bourgogne. Good colour. Lovely nose of warm ripe fruit and bright cherries with a firm ferrous minerally tone that carried well onto the medium-full palate. Supple and fleshy with good acidity, showing very fine bourgogne character.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Cote de Nuits-Village. Sourced from Brochon, between Fixin and Gevrey. Deep purple. Somewhat shut and awkward on the nose while a stern minerally tone with woody elements dominate on the palate, threatening to overwhelm the fruit, though there is good power, intensity and acidity. Needs time to sort itself out.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Marsannay. Dark red plums dominate with some degree of earthiness that lend an overall darkish tone, well-extracted with raw power and intensity underscored by clean focused acidity that tapered to an assertive finish.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Fixin. Deep colour. Bright fleshy and supple, showing good concentration of fruit with good integration of minerals and acidity, finishing with a lovely gentle glow. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Gevrey Chambertin En Champs. Good colour. Attractive sultry bouquet of red fruits and dark cherries with a bright lifted tone on the palate, quite excellent in presence and acidity, structured with highly supple tannins. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles. Deep crimson. Good concentration of bright red fruits structured with firm acidity within tight assertive tannins, showing good linearity but lacking in dimension.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village. Deep crimson. Lovely deep bouquet of ripe red plums, dark cherries and currants. Good attack and concentration, displaying seamless fine acidity, finishing with dry intensity. Very successful.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Deep crimson. Good concentration of dark plums and currants, very lively with exciting acidity that conferred great suppleness and tone, rounded and fleshy, structured with very finely grained tannins supported by understated earthy minerality. Only 4 barrels.

2009 Domaine Philippe Livera Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru. Made then by Philippe. Popped and poured ex-cellars. Very dark. Good lift of light herbal medicinal tones amidst dark cherries and black currants. Medium-full. Rather ripe and well-extracted, displaying lively acidity and vigour with early secondary nuances on a cedary floor, structured with detailed ferrous minerals. A darker than usual Chapelle-Chambertin. Excellent.

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