Of course, as with any new star in Burgundy, flattering press and skyrocketing demand/prices are never far behind. The word is now out about this family and their wines are no longer as accessible or affordable as they once were. Fortunately, our history of supporting Lignier prior to the estate “hitting the big time” with critics and collectors means that we still receive a generous allocation of the family’s best wines, including the remarkable value that is today’s 2013 Morey-Saint-Denis. Outside of restaurants in New York and San Francisco, you probably won’t be able to purchase this vividly aromatic and expressive red anywhere in the US—and especially not at this price. There are less than 50 cases in the country and we’ve grabbed all made available to us, so get after it!
Most wine enthusiasts are aware (and perhaps a little tired) of the tidal wave of hype that seems to precede each year’s new Burgundy releases. Some vintages (2009 comes to mind) are generously warm and produce softer, ‘younger-drinking’ wines, but even in ideal circumstances, Burgundy’s top reds require some cellar aging before showing their true selves. Furthermore, it takes years before the wines develop the extra layers of depth and aromatic complexity necessary to justify their increasingly punishing price tags. So, I generally encourage a judicious approach when purchasing young, heavily hyped red Burgundy.
Still, I raise this point specifically because the wines of Domaine Lignier—and especially those from this newly arrived 2013 vintage—are an exception. Not only are they loaded with youthful charisma and energy, but they are peaking right now. Georges Lignier’s son-in-law, Benoit, has been toiling in the family’s vines and cellar for 15 years, and, in the late 2000s, he became the estate’s winemaker and manager. In the decade that the property has operated under his supervision, Benoit has made a few small but meaningful changes to the estate’s protocol that have resulted in a crop of young-drinking red Burgundies that deserve all the accolades they’ve gotten.
To start, Benoit carefully tends the vines so that each cluster spends slightly more time on the vine without over-ripening or increasing potential alcohol. He has slightly cut back on harvest yields to increase depth and complexity without dropping fruit to an extent that creates excessive concentration or alcohol. In the cellar, Benoit has adjusted the ratio of whole cluster to destemmed fruit (now 20% whole cluster) so that the wines are less ‘brittle’; they show much more vivid fruit than vintages from the 1990s and early 2000s. Benoit has found the magic formula for his various terroirs—across the board, these wines are full of life, and are incredibly alive aromatically. They are an absolute pleasure to drink today.
Today’s wine, Benoit’s 2013 Morey-Saint-Denis, originates from a small, 1.5-hectare assortment of parcels perched on an east-facing slope at 750-850 feet. The soil here is dominated by limestone at the top, with the concentration of clay increasing as elevation drops. Today’s bottling is vinified entirely in neutral oak and treated gently in the cellar so the local terroir’s gorgeous floral aromas take top billing. Benoit is raising the bar for his family’s domaine by bottling an impressive diversity of extremely limited and expensive Grand Crus. Still, I always appreciate how Benoit’s Morey-Saint-Denis bottling offers such impressive value—it’s a perfect introduction to the estate’s joyously accessible 2013 vintage.
In the glass, Lignier’s 2013 Morey-Saint-Denis displays a highly reflective ruby-red core with a touch of light garnet at the rim. The nose is beautifully perfumed, bursting with notes of fresh strawberry, wild raspberries, rose petals, white tea, wet leaves and the subtlest spice of french oak. The wine is medium in body, with fresh acidity and soft, silky tannins—this a “drink now” Burgundy. There is a beautiful core of vivid red fruit on the palate that mirrors the purity on the nose. I anticipate this bottle’s finest years will come over the next 3-4 years. If enjoying soon, I encourage you to pull the cork 60-90 minutes before serving just above cellar temp (~60F-65F) in Burgundy stems. It’s a life-affirming wine that will pair beautifully with roast duck over this