Domaine Hubert Lignier

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The Domaine Hubert Lignier has long had a reputation for its fine wines known for their concentration, depth and structure. We have had the extraordinary good fortune of commencing our relationship as the US importer for this estate with the 1978 vintage. At that time, Hubert Lignier was bottling small amounts of two different cuvées of Morey St. Denis (the village bottling and the 1er Cru “Vieilles Vignes”) as well as the fabled Clos de la Roche. As our relationship progressed, more and more of the secrets of the cellar found their way into bottle rather than being sold off to negociants. All of the domaine’s holdings are now bottled under their own label. Hubert’s son, Laurent, is the next generation of this proud estate and is following his father’s traditional practices to ensure the treasures coming from the family’s impressive vineyard holdings continue to exhibit the best of their respective appellations.

The domaine owns 8.30 hectares principally in the villages of Morey Saint Denis (where their home and the cellars are located), Gevrey Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny. Recently, the Ligniers have expanded their holdings to include parcels in the appellations of Nuits Saint Georges and Pommard. The Ligniers follow the principles of “lutte raisonnée” (sensible combat) in their viticulture: for example, only organic compost is used when necessary and the vineyard is tilled so that no herbicides are used. Yields vary from 20 to 55 hectoliters per hectare depending on the conditions of the growing season and the appellation. The thin, clay and limestone soil on the slopes is not conducive to vigorous growth and limits the crop naturally. A “green harvest” is used when necessary to further manage production to ensure perfect maturity. Young vines are trained using the Cordon de Royat (spur training) system, which helps control the vigor and yields as well. Of critical importance, the “sélection massale” system (i.e. replacing missing vines with cuttings from the same vineyard) is the only method used to propagate vines, a tradition that gives an extra touch of complexity and character to the resulting wines. At harvest time, the pickers remove any unhealthy clusters in the field, to avoid contamination of the healthy grapes in the baskets, a practice that is supplemented with a “table de trie” at the cuverie.

Traditional vinification practices are the core of their work: grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in open-top cement tanks that allow manual pigéage. Only natural yeasts are used. Laurent uses an extended cold soak maceration period prior to fermentation to allow greater extraction (contrary to his father who believes that the best extraction takes place during the alcoholic fermentation). Fermentation is rather long and generally lasts 15 to 20 days following the cold soak of 5 days. The use of new oak for the élevage is carefully restrained; the norm being approximately 20% to ­ 30% on the village wines and up to 50% for the Premier and Grand Crus. The wines of the village appellations usually spend 18 months in barrel while the Premier and Grand Crus remain in cask for 20 to 24 months before being bottled, all without fining or filtration. All work in the cellar that requires movement of the wine is done by gravity; the wines are never pumped.

Bourgogne Aligoté: This charming white is sourced from a .60 hectare parcel in Gevrey. The vines were planted in 1943. There are a few (15%) interplanted Chardonnay vines in the mix that contribute roundness and depth. The age of the vines produces a wine of surprising concentration.
Saint Romain Blanc Sous le Chateau: The Lignier family went out of their way and all the way south to the village of Saint Romain to source a vineyard in this village in the southwestern corner of the Cote de Beaune in homage to their late son, Romain. The parcel is .30 hectare in size and the vines are 25 years of age. This lieu-dit is one of the best placed sites in Saint Romain with the vines planted at a steep angle and facing southeast. This white is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged.
Fixin Blanc: This rather full-bodied white is produced from one of the rare plantings of Chardonnay in the Cote de Nuits, a small parcel of less than a quarter hectare in the village of Fixin, just north of Gevrey Chambertin. The soil is a mix of marl and limestone, very rocky in texture, and is more famous for producing rustic red wine. Thus, it is surprising to encounter a certain elegance in this wine which displays a pleasant acidity that elevates this wine in status. A rare and interesting wine: 120 bottles or so of this miniscule production comes to the USA through our good offices.
Bourgogne Passetoutgrain“Aux Poirelots”: Lignier’s Passetoutgrain is benchmark of its category, offering the finesse of far loftier appellations and embodying the authoritative depth of the house style in miniature form. The wine comprises 0.4 hectares worth of vines: 60% Gamay (from 1960) and 40% Pinot Noir (from 1998), planted within the confines of Morey-Saint-Denis proper in a site called Aux Poirelots. Aged entirely in used barrels, this cuvée is bottled without fining or filtration just before the next harvest.
Bourgogne Rouge: We always consider the Bourgogne Rouge from the Ligniers as “outside of category” for its depth and complexity that rivals wines from more elite appellations. The vineyard in Chambolle is 1.5 hectares in size and the vines are 35 years of age (as of 2012). The Ligniers handle this wine in the same manner as the village wines of the domaine except for a brief elevage.
Bourgogne Rouge “Grand Chaliot”: The “Grand Chaliot” lieu-dit is situated just south of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Ligniers work 1.25 hectares of vines there planted in 1987. Given its proximity to Nuits-Saint-Georges, this wine possesses a seriousness and mineral depth rare for a Bourgogne, particularly impressive in its amplitude and intensity. A mere 10% new oak allows the energetic and spice-tinged flavors to shine through unimpeded.
Pommard Les Chanlins: In 2009, the Ligniers purchased this vineyard in Pommard which, although classified as on the village level, actually sits just south of the Pommard 1er Cru “Rugiens”, the most prestigious of all the Pommard 1er Crus. The parcel is .41 hectares and the vines therein are 80+ years old (planted in 1932). The first vintage to be produced by the domaine is from the 2009 harvest.
Pommard “En Brescul”: Although the Lignier domaine is historically associated with the Côte de Nuits, their firmly classical house style melds beautifully with the mineral rigor of Pommard. Hubert and Laurent ventured into this zone during the period of uncertainty following Romain’s death, and this “En Brescul” comes from a 0.4-hectare parcel of 20-year-old vines on which the family has a 25-year lease. Effusively stony, this 2018 presents mouthwatering red fruits on a firmly mineral frame, with impressive concentration for its level. It was de-stemmed entirely and raised in 25% new wood.
Nuits Saint Georges Les Poisets: This, too, is a recent acquisition by the domaine. This small parcel is planted to vines that are fifty-five years of age (as of 2012). The site is in a superb location sitting just beneath the great 1er Cru “Les Cailles”. The first vintage produced by the Ligniers is 2010.
Chambolle-Musigny “Les Bussieres”: “Les Bussieres” sits just below the premier cru “Les Sentiers” (and just down-slope from grand cru Bonnes-Mares), hard on the border of Morey-Saint-Denis. The Ligniers exploit just under a half-hectare of vines here—a total of four parcels, planted between 1948 and 1988. This wine combines classic Chambolle elegance and mineral precision with the savory guts of Morey, with loads of spice and floral accents to the nose and a focused, linear palate that should soften and expand with a few years of cellaring.
Morey-Saint-Denis “Tres Girard”: Since 2009, the Lignier family has purchased grapes from a half-hectare parcel in this well-situated cru that lies just below premier cru “Clos Sorbe” on the slope in southern Morey-Saint-Denis. The nose is sexy and open, with vivid notes of freshly turned earth and an almost Chambolle-like sense of grace. It is vibrant and delicious in the mouth, with a supple texture and generous red-spectrum fruit that fully enrobes its present but gentle tannins.
Morey-Saint-Denis “Trilogie”: “Trilogie” is produced from small holdings of very old plantings in three different Morey-Saint-Denis lieux-dits: “Chenevery,” “Clos Solon,” and “Porroux,” with vines planted between 1936 and 1972. This impressive villages-level wine is denser and more concentrated than the “Tres Girard” above, showing a more classically savory Morey character and a highly attractive sappiness of fruit, as well as a expressive nose. Although it is relatively generous and open-knit, it should reward a few years of cellaring as well.
Gevrey-Chambertin: The Ligniers purchased the fruit for this wine, but they oversee the vineyard work from July onward, as well as the harvest itself. Produced from parcels in two lieu-dits—15-year-old vines in “Epointures” and 60-year-old vines in “Reniard”—this is pitch-perfect Gevrey-Chambertin: meaty and succulent, with classic Lignier poise and a long, mineral-drenched, driving finish.
Gevrey-Chambertin, “Regnard”: Regnard is a south-facing site in the southern sector of Gevrey-Chambertin, and the Ligniers are in contract to access a parcel of Pinot Noir here between 40 and 70 years of age. 2017 marks the first vintage it was bottled separately, and Laurent decided to de-stem it entirely to preserve its purity of fruit. Indeed, this is a fresh, silken wine with intense minerality and marked tension—a wonderful counterpoint to the more somber “Les Seuvrées” below. Its modest 20% new oak is all but invisible even now.
Gevrey Chambertin Les Seuvrées: The parcel in “Les Seuvrées” is in the southern tier of Gevrey and sits immediately beneath the Grand Cru “Mazoyeres Chambertin”. This wine, one of the most important of the domaine in terms of size, is a bit more sturdy than the Morey Saint Denis and is a real show-stopper, displaying its classic Gevrey meatiness. The vines are old: planted between 1938 and 1966.
Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Didiers – Hospices de Nuits – Cuvée Fagon: In this instance the Ligniers have developed a habit of purchasing on an annual basis this very special cuvée that belongs to the Hospices of Nuits Saint Georges. The 1er Cru “Les Didiers” is a 2.45 hectares monopole of the Hospices de Nuits that sits just below “Les Cailles.”. The “Cuvée Fagon” is from a parcel within Les Didiers that is planted to 65 year old vines (as of 2012). After the initial wine is made, the Ligniers take possession of the wine and do the elevage according to their style. The wine is one the most rich and masculine of all wines from Nuits.
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru “Les Chabiots”: “Les Chabiots” is a dreamily situated premier cru that lies just north of Musigny, perched just above the fabled “Les Amoureuses” on the slope in the southern sector of Chambolle. Hubert and Laurent began purchasing grapes from a parcel of 20-year-old vines here during their recent inheritance battle, and they have continued to produce wine from this great but tiny cru ever since. The wine is intoxicatingly ethereal on the nose—open, enveloping, and inviting. The palate is round but well structured, with generous, sappy fruit, and a hedonistically succulent finish.
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Baudes: One of the smallest holdings of the Lignier domaine but also one of the most precious. The parcel within “Les Baudes” sits just beneath the Grand Cru “Bonnes Mares”; the Ligniers own 0.17 hectare; and, the vines planted in 1960. Always an incendiary and majestic wine capable of long aging.
Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “La Riotte” : Among Lignier’s ever-impressive trio of Morey-Saint-Denis premier crus, “La Riotte” tends to be the most feminine, gentle, and lithe. Located on a gentle part of the slope at the foot of the grand cru Clos-Saint-Denis, the vineyard is full of small stones, and the wine boasts a firm, tightly woven minerality from which all of the other elements of the wine seem to flow. The wine is marked by a beautifully spice-inflected, floral nose, but the palate is chiseled and tensile at the moment, demanding a bit of patience. Firm but filigree tannins frame a very long, ringing finish, promising great things down the road.
Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Les Chaffots”: The Ligniers own just under half a hectare of vines planted in 1968 in this great premier cru, which sits just above Clos-Saint-Denis on the slope. “Les Chaffots” is the muscular, brooding counterpart to the more elegant “La Riotte” above, offering an immensity of structure and ruggedness of fruit that allows the wine to age effortlessly for decades. It is even more profoundly mineral-driven than “La Riotte,” with a deeper register to its spicy, meaty aromas, and an almost shocking intensity and concentration on the palate. This is rich and broad, but still amazingly graceful—beautifully “old-school” in its demeanor.
Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes: This special cuvée is perhaps the most consistently exceptional wine of this domaine, with a depth that is always generous and appealing. It has it all: presence, length, power and finesse. The grapes for this wine are sourced from a contiguous parcel of .53 hectares that traverses the two 1er Cru sites of “Les Faconnieres” and “Les Chenevery” which sit immediately beneath the Grand Cru “Clos de la Roche”, and possesses that ineffable Grand Cru stature. The vines were planted in 1947 and 1960.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes: We have always considered the Gevrey “Aux Combottes” to be quite special. In all the years we have been purchasing this wine, it has never failed to delight and satisfy. Of course, it is one of those rare 1er Crus that, geographically, is literally surrounded by Grand Cru vineyards. In this case, it is encircled by Latricieres Chambertin, Charmes Chambertin and Clos de la Roche. The Lignier parcel is 0.14 hectare and the vines therein were planted in 1957. Obviously, production is exceedingly limited.
Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru: In 2014, Hubert and Laurent sourced grapes from a 50-year-old plot in this hallowed grand cru—a total of only two barrels of wine. Of the three grand crus issuing forth from Lignier’s cellar, this is the most elegant, airy, and feminine, emphasizing higher-toned spices and floral elements in its aromatics, and with a mineral-drenched, vibrant palate full of lift and energy. Nonetheless, its tightly coiled structure and slightly inward-facing demeanor signal the need for some cellar time in order for the wine to fully blossom. For many years, we offered wines from this same parcel when representing the Domaine des Chezeaux!
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru: Frequently there is a mere barrel of wine produced per year from the tiny parcel of Charmes Chambertin owned by the Ligniers on the Mazoyeres-Haut climat. The surface is less than a tenth of a hectare. The vines were planted in 1948.. The Charmes Chambertin from Lignier is the feminine companion to the magnificent Clos de la Roche.
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru: This formidable Grand Cru has always been the standard bearer of the Lignier domaine. I frequently joke to Hubert Lignier that the only mistake I ever witnessed him commit was his decision to sell off his 1981 Clos de la Roche to negociants because he thought it wasn’t up to his standards. This is a complete wine marked by somber black fruits and firm yet subtle tannins; it has exceptional breed and fine aging potential. Our personal collection dates back to the first vintage we purchased from Hubert Lignier: 1978 … and it is still a marvel to behold. The Ligniers own one hectare in Clos de la Roche. The vines are between 50 and 60 years of age split between two holdings: 0.62 hectares in the climat of “Monts Luiants” and 0.28 hectares in ‘Les Fremieres”.
Clos de la Roche possesses an unusually broad variety of soil types, and Lignier’s rendering of this cru seems to capture this complexity in its endlessly layered mineral core. It is a wine of imposing power and density, massive in scale but also incredibly nuanced—in fact, it is almost paradoxical in its ability to express such size but also render such fine detail. Needless to say, the wine develops beautifully, regally, and glacially in bottle, as many older wines enjoyed over the past few decades have so emphatically illustrated.
Clos de la Roche ” MCMLV” Grand Cru: For the first time, Laurent Lignier produced a separate cuvée of Clos de la Roche in 2017 in honor of his grandfather Henri. The Clos de la Roche “MCMLV” comes entirely from Henri’s first planting in 1955: 27 rows of Pinot Noir in the Monts Luisants climat, which he used to propagate the rest of his holdings during the 1960s. This original parcel is highly susceptible to millerandage, which results in small berries of immense concentration, and Laurent harnessed the full power and intensity of such fruit in this stupendous bottling—of which he produced a mere two barrels. A wine such as this embodies Burgundy’s most profound essence: the continuous spirit and presence of a family whose members’ very hands have worked these same vines, this same parcel, since the vines were planted. How could Henri Lignier, when he was breaking earth in 1955, have ever imagined the course his home region would take over the ensuing decades, or the global acclaim that would be heaped on his son’s and his grandsons’ wines? Yet, despite the incredible changes those ensuing 65 years have witnessed, a Lignier has steadfastly worked each vine among these 27 rows of Clos de la Roche, vintage after vintage, gradually building its reputation as one of red Burgundy’s pinnacles. “MCMLV” is not just a great wine, then; it is an emblem of all that makes Burgundy special.

Domaine Hubert Lignier – Neal Martin (Vinous)

2018 Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos-de-la-Roche Grand Cru The 2018 Clos de la Roche Cuvée MCMLV comes from a 0.25-hectare parcel that Laurent’s grandmother said never frosted over. It has a crystalline bouquet of vibrant red cherry and wild strawberry fruit laced with crushed limestone. The palate is silky-smooth on the entry, with perfect acidity and

Domaine Hubert & Laurent Lignier’s 2017s:

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Saturday night’s lineup

This past Saturday night we entertained some friends for dinner and drew some precious wines from the cellar … as you can witness from the photo. Each of the five wines served was in splendid condition.

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We received a note from Laurent Lignier today, detailing the extent of the damage from a severe hailstorm last week. Both Morey and Gevrey were hit, with particular severity in Clos de la Roche, Charmes Chambertin and Gevrey 1er Cru “Aux Combottes”. The premier crus of Chaffots, Riotte and the Vieilles Vignes holdings were also

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Dinner with the Ligniers

Here we are at the Lignier’s table with Hubert and Francoise and Laurent and a few other family members having a simple dinner accompanied by: Chambolle Les Baudes 2002, Charmes Chambertin 2000 and Clos de la Roche 1988. Wish you were all here! NIR    

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