History of La Romanée Liger-Belairlundi, 4 juin 2012

I am going to attend a fantastic vertical tasting of La Romanée Comte Liger-Belair with 41 millesimes. Louis-Michel Liger-Belair will attend this event prepared by a friend of mine, a completely passionate wine lover.

Having received the history of this wine, I find interesting to communicate it as it is very interesting.

But the tasting will be interesting too !

LA ROMANÉE – History:

LA ROMANÉE Grand Cru is with 0.8452 ha the smallest Appellation controlee in France – monopole of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair.

The vineyard has been renowned at least since the 14th century. If it has ever been actually part of Romanée-Conti remains unsure, but both seemed to origin (at least partially) from a lot of small vineyard plots later called „Aux Echanges“ uphill from (=west of) Romanée-Saint-Vivant.

Between 1815 and 1826 the ancestor of the family, Comte Louis Liger-Belair, acquired all in all 9 parcels of “Aux Echanges”, “En La Romanée” and “Sentier au Prêtre”, first through marriage, then by purchase, and registered it in 1827 eventually under the name LA ROMANÉE. The vineyard then passed to Louis-Charles L-B – and has remained the property of the family ever since.

In 1924 Henri, the great-grandfather of Louis-Michel died, and in 1931 the widow passed away too. Because two of the ten children were still minors (French law forbid minors to take over ownership) all properties had been put up for public auction the 31st of August 1933 (including also the original La Tâche).

Although René Engel was interested in buying La Romanée, Just Liger-Belair, a priest, and his brother Michel (grandfather of Louis-Michel) fortunately were able to buy the vineyard back for the family – together with an important part of Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots.

Because the brothers were not winemakers the vineyards were rented out „en metayage“: first to the Michaudet family, from 1946 onwards to the Forey family. Responsible for the vineyard work and vinification was Jean Forey from 1961 to 1987, afterwards Regis Forey (1988-2001).

The wines have rarely been bottled by the owners or metayeurs, but sold to different negociants: Maison C.Marey & Comte Liger-Belair, Maison Thomas-Bassot, Maison Leroy (1950-1962), Maison Bichot (1963-1975) and Bouchard Pere & Fils (1976-2005), but often barrels have been sold to other negociants, too – so one can find also bottling by Regnier, Champy, Rigault, Lupé- Cholet, Belin, Giroud among others.

In 2000 Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, grand-son of Michel and son of Henry, started his domaine with Village- and 1er-Cru-Vosne-Romanee – and in 2002 he took over the vineyards and the vinification of La Romanée and VR Aux Reignots from Regis Forey. But he still had to transfer half of the wine to Bouchard Pere & Fils until 2005 – and so there are two different bottling of these four vintages in existence.

In 2006 he was able to rent a further 5,5 ha from Domaine Lamadon with Grand Cru Echezeaux and 1er Cru and Village Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-St-Georges.