2015 Burgundy: Domaine Hubert Lignier

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Laurent Lignier reflects on the 2015 vintage

I began visiting Domaine Hubert Lignier as a graduate student, and Laurent Lignier has always been phenomenally generous with his time (and wine) ever since. So it was personally as well as professionally gratifying to discover that the Ligniers have produced some of the finest wines to be found in the Côte de Nuits in the 2015 vintage; a range exhibiting beautiful purity, depth and terroir expression.

Laurent has expanded the Domaine’s holdings since taking the helm, so he can now present an extensive range of appellations. I especially enjoyed his Chambolle-Musigny Premier Crus. He has also made some modifications to practice in the cuverie and cellar: the wines now undergo a pre-fermentation maceration and are handled by gravity without any pumping.

Whether it’s the banishment of pumps or a gentler hand with extraction, the wines are rather more elegant and transparent than the structured wines fashioned by his father Hubert, though they haven’t lost any concentration or intensity. There are parallels here with what’s happened in the last decade at Domaine Gouges in Nuits-Saint-Georges. If I were to express a reservation amidst all this praise—and this is really splitting hairs—then it’s that I’d like to see a touch less Taransaud in the cellar: even with Lignier’s moderate percentages of new oak these barrels have a very strong signature (spice, blood orange, cedar) which I’m not sure is always entirely synergistic with the wines.

Tasting notes:

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis “Triologie”: The Trilogie hails from the lieu-dits of Chenevery, Clos Solon and Porroux, giving a nice composite picture of Morey, and hails from old Pinot Fin vines which yielded 26 hl/ha in 2015. Beautiful notes of plums, black cherry and spice introduce a full-bodied, richly structured wine with great depth and persistence and an underpinning of fresh acids. You really sense the creamy concentration from the old vines here. 92/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Chambolle-Muginy Les Bussières: Laurent Lignier’s Bussières is a very pretty rendition of Chambolle, bursting with aromas of creamy raspberry, spice and a subtle framing of cedary new oak which lead into a sappy, intense wine with fine, enrobed tannins and great purity through the long finish. 92/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Seuvrées: From old vines planted in a lieu-dit just below Mazoyères-Chambertin, this is a very attractive village Gevrey, with a projected bouquet of cassis, rich soil tones, graphite and cedar. On the palate the wine reveals attractively crunchy, juicy fruit, framed by sterner tannins than the two wines which preceded it; a more austere wine, without quite as much fruit to enrobe its structural bones, but one which will be very pretty in the fullness of time. 90/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Poisets: Purchased in 2010, this parcel of vines planted in 1947 sit just below the Premier Cru Les Cailles. Notes of dark berries, blood orange, spice and dark chocolate lead into a sappy, full-bodied wine with great drive and cut, and a firm chassis of classically Nuits tannins that clamp down on the finish: this is one wine which really needs a bit more élevage and then some age in bottle, but what serious raw materials. 91/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Chabiots: This cuvée hails from purchased grapes and comparatively young vines, planted in 1997: the lieu-dit lies just above Les Amoureues and next to Musigny. This is an expressive wine with an exuberant bouquet of blood orange, strawberry, rose petal and vanilla. Supple and elegant on the palate with almost saline minerality, juicy acids and no hard edges. A very pretty bottling which I would not hesitate to attack in its youth. 92/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Baudes: Whereas the Chabiots sits above the quintessentially feminine Les Amoureuses, Les Baudes lies just below Bonnes Mares, one of the firmest and most masculine Grand Crus in the Côte de Nuits. The difference in terroir is clarion, as the Baudes is much more brooding and reserved, with a pure bouquet of red and black cherry, incipient soil tones and violets. On the palate the wine is deeper and more layered, with crystalline fruit, fine but firm tannins and lovely sap and energy. In addition to the different terroir, the Lignier’s parcel of Les Baudes was planted in 1960 and is owned and cultivated by the domaine, so I assume that this is what gives it an extra dimension. 94/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru La Riotte: Laurent Lignier describes La Riotte as typically the most open, a wine which reveals ‘une gourmandise de fruit’. The lieu-dit lies just below the Clos Saint-Denis and was planted in 1959. Beautiful aromas of cherry, strawberry, blood orange, cinnamon lead into a rich, full-bodied and supple wine without quite such silkily elegant tannins as the Chambolle Premier Crus but with some of their spirit. 92/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru Les Chaffots: Whereas the Chabiots sits below Clos Saint-Denis, Les Chaffots lies above it, and the combination of good exposition with higher altitude makes for a grapes which retain a low pH even at full maturity. Laurent Lignier describes it as a ‘vin de garde’ which is always more closed than La Riotte in its youth. Notes of wild plum, cassis, cocoa, spice and rich soil tones introduce a tensile, full-bodied wine with great length and seriousness and a firm chassis of savoury tannins and crunchy fruit. 93/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru “Vielles Vignes”: From old vines in Faconnières and Chenevery which produce very small, shot berries. The Ligniers call this their baby Clos de la Roche and it’s easy to see why. A bouquet of red-black fruits, dark soil tones, cocoa and graphite are followed by a full-bodied, ample wine with beautifully enrobed tannins, a deep, spherical core and great sap and cut through the long finish. Fantastic stuff. 95/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Aux Combottes: The Ligner’s parcel in Aux Combottes is on the Morey side of this Premier Cru, neighbouring Domaine Dujac’s, and in 2015 it has produced a very pretty wine, bursting with notes of red plums, griotte cherry, peony and a framing of cedary new oak. On the palate the wine is supple but powerful, with an expansive palate impression, elegant tannins and lovely intensity and length. 94/100

2015 Hospices de Nuits (Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier) Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Didiers: The Ligniers have been purchasing wine from this monopole of the Hospices de Nuits (which lies next to Les Saint Georges in the northern part of Prémeaux-Prissey) every year since 2005, and Laurent racks the wine into used barrels as soon as it arrives in the cellar. A bouquet of wild berries, sweet earth, incense and espresso leads into a supple, rich wine with great cut and drive and beautifully enrobed, elegant tannins—especially for a Nuits Premier Cru! 93/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru: The Griotte-Chambertin is very pretty, with a pure, fruit-driven bouquet of red cherry and strawberry accented by notes of liquorice. On the palate the wine is pure and supple, with an expansive, refined palate impression and a nicely reserved core. This is quite a pliant, elegant rendition of Griottes which I don’t think has ultimately quite as much depth or dimension as the Morey Premier Cru Vielles Vignes bottling. From purchased grapes from fifty year old vines. 94/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru: From vines planted in 1948 in Mazoyères-Chambertin (but labelled, as the law permits, as Charmes-Chambertin), this is a more brooding and reserved wine after the extrovert fruit of the Griottes. The deep-pitched bouquet of black cherry, soil and woodsmoke is followed by a full-bodied, rich and supple wine with more volume and density too. On the finish, firm tannins assert themselves, but this wine seemed just a touch reduced when I tasted it, so it is likely a bit more high-toned and giving than this note would suggest. 94/100

2015 Domaine Hubert et Laurent Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru: Laurent Lignier’s Clos de la Roche is one of the wines of the vintage in 2015. Notes of red-black fruits, graphite, cinnamon, cedar, blood orange, dark chocolate and violets introduce an amazingly sappy and complete wine with beautifully enrobed tannins, a bottomless core, mouth-filling amplitude and a magical alliance of richness and energy. It’s hard to communicate what makes a wine like this so special in a tasting note, but this Clos de la Roche has the extra dimension that distinguishes the very best bottles. Ten-and-a-half barrels made. 98/100

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