Cousin to Vicomte Liger-Belair of La Romanée fame, in 2001 Thibault Liger-Belair took over storied family property in Nuits-Saint-Georges, reclaiming vineyards which had been contracted out to various sharecroppers and creating a new domaine under his own name. The properties include some of the most hallowed vineyards in Burgundy: The Grands Crus of Richebourg and Clos de Vougeot, as well as the Premier Cru of Les Saint-Georges that is one of the few vineyards in modern-era Burgundy to be considered for promotion to Grand Cru.
In 2008, Thibault decided to deploy his talent and knowledge in the Cru Beaujolais appellation of Moulin-à-Vent. He did a portion of his education a few miles south in the village of Belleville and was always fascinated by the beauty of the region, its landscapes, and the quality and diversity of its granite soils. The vineyards of Moulin-à-Vent reminded him of the Burgundian terroirs and he purchased several different parcels with the goal of producing wines that reflect their individual climat.
The methods Thibault uses in Beaujolais were adapted from his experience in the Côte de Nuits. The vines are cultivated using biodynamic practices. He claims that the work in the vineyards is done to awaken the soil and its terroir by encouraging the roots to go deeper in search of nourishment. He seeks to produce his Beaujolais wines without carbonic maceration because he considers that style of vinification to result in too many indistinguished wines.
All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix and match)
~$29 “Les Jeunes Pousses” (Beaujolais-Villages)
“Les Jeunes Pousses” is Thibault’s basic cuvée, made with fruit from the granite soils of the northern part of the region. It begins powerfully fragrant with violets and dark cherries. Although easy to drink, as Beaujolais-Villages ought to be, there is a vein of iron-metallic energy at the wine’s core leading all the way to a finish of crunchy ripe tannins. This is a Beaujolais-Villages with the gravitas of the Côte de Nuits.
~$30 “Deux Terres” (Bourgogne Gamay)
Bourgogne Gamay became a new regional appellation as of the 2011 vintage. The Gamay grapes must come exclusively from the Beaujolais Crus but can also include Pinot Noir from regional appellations. The blend of cuvée “Deux Terres” (the two lands) changes each year depending on the quality of the vintage. The 2016 vintage is produced from roughly two-thirds gamay and one-third Pinot Noir. The result is a wine of joyful fruit expression that never comes across as simple. It has fresh, ripe red fruit in abundance and all the purity you’d expect of a Thibault Liger-Belair offering.
~$41 “Les Vieilles Vignes” (Moulin à Vent)
Thibault’s flagship Moulin à Vent is a blend of nine parcels across 17 acres planted between 1910 and 1955. The vines are situated like a belt around the hill of Moulin à Vent in shallow, white and pink sandy soil over granite and quartz. The grapes are harvested by hand and vinified with 40% whole clusters. Aging takes place in oak casks. The strawberries and cinnamon aromas of most Cru Beaujolais are non-existent here. They are replaced with a more profound floral and cherry-earth vibe reminiscent of the Côte-d’Or. This wine has the concentration of fruit and structure to develop over the course of years.
~$53 “La Roche” (Moulin à Vent)
Thibault considers the 5.5 acre plot “La Roche,” planted between 1920 and 1945, the most beautiful parcel of his domain. It is located at the top of the hill near the appellation’s namesake windmill. The site is remarkable for its pink granite outcrops and a healthy wind from the north that dries the vines and helps to provide more freshness in the finished wines. The grapes are harvested by hand and vinified with 30% whole clusters. Aging takes place in oak casks (20% new).
~$53 “Champ de Cour” (Moulin à Vent)
The “Champ de Cour” parcel is located in the southern part of the appellation below the windmill and adjacent to Fleurie. It is a superb terroir with an eastern exposure and granite surface rocks that force the roots to dig deep to seek their nutrients. Thibault’s vines are over 80 years old and create a beautifully concentrated wine with tannins that are both firm and refined. This is a bottle that goes in the cellar right next to the Premier Cru Burgundy.