Following a visit to the cellar of Thibault Liger Belair last week, I have completely changed my view of the estate. I admit that I used to often associate it with Comte Liger Belair (Thibault is the cousin of Louis-Michel), which is among the finest estates in Burgundy. However during the visit, Thibault struck me as an incredibly talented winemaker in his own right.
We arrived at the beautiful old mansion of Thibault Liger Belair in Nuits St Georges, which was previously his office and winery, and it gave an astounding first impression of the domaine. Thibault explained that a completely new facility had been built across the road from the old address, focused on providing a location which would facilitate modernity and sustainable development, i.e. the solar panels at the entrance.
Thibault kicked off the tasting by showing us his series of Moulin a Vent 2016s. He founded his own domaine in Beaujolais which produces wines of serious density and depth, and noted that very often the wines are mistaken as top Burgundies in blind tastings, given their power and complexity- not common in normal Beaujolais wines, especially his “Les Champs du Cour”, which merits the smoothness of Gamay at its best and the complexity of many good 1er Crus of Burgundy. Of course, the tasting was then followed by many familiar names in Burgundy; Nuits St Georges, Aloxe Corton, Chambolle Musigny, Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg etc. The wines are very pure and silky, with a good reflection of terroir. Despite referring to himself as a “lazy winemaker”, it is clear that he is hardworking in the vineyard and ensures that the wines have as little intervention as possible, given his belief that wine should be shaped by natural terroir and not human factors.
When being asked his favorite wines, Thibault immediately responded, “Les St Georges (1er Cru of Nuits St Georges)”, which explains why he expended so much effort in applying for the Grand Cru status of this vineyard with the French government. Unlike other winemakers, Thibault refused to discuss the percentage of new oak used in the winemaking, but instead focused on how he handled the different parcels and vintages. Rather than using the standard Burgundy oak, he makes every barrel within the domaine – as a result the wines are very fine, transparent and classic.
Thibault was very generous and hosted a lunch for, allowing the opportunity for us to try a few bottles of the Petits Monts 2009, Les St Georges 2008 and Le Richebourg 2006. Each of them exhibited very well integrated scents and notes of each particular vintage. Despite the fact that the wines are very classic and far from being opulent, they complemented very well with the home-made boeuf bourguignon, which is accelerated with a touch of crème de cassis in its sauce! Yumm….!
– Jessica Chan