2012s from Georges Lignier

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One of the curious things about Burgundy is how one can manage to have a famous name and a bounty of fine vineyards and remain off the radar. One such grower is Domaine Georges Lignier, who despite having 16 Hectares across 17 appellations (including substantial parcels in multiple grand crus), manages to be only the third most famous Lignier of Morey St. Denis. Blessed with vines averaging 50 years of age, Georges Lignier has had the material to be in the premier league in Morey St. Denis and, with a new energy brought in by nephew Benoit Stehly, who has taken over in the cellar and the vineyard, it seems, may have finally arrived.

For those familiar with the wines in the past, there is a noticeable refinement to the wines in more recent vintages. There’s a greater sense of harmony and precision to the wines. They are now imbued with an aromatic fineness and purity which is quite striking. With 80% of  the vines over 50 years of age and a diverse vinestock in the vineyards: (“No clones: diverse like New York,” says Benoit), the raw materials are there. Good work in the vineyards and low yields from old vines help bring concentration, while care is taken in the cellar to maximize aromatics. The grapes are mostly destemmed, native yeasts start the fermentation, and a cold cellar delays malolactic fermentation. Gentler vinification and less extraction are preferred, as the priority is finesse over power.

As with elsewhere in 2012 yields were down and quantities are a fraction of a typical year, but the wines all have great purity, detail, and fruit. The aromatics are lovely and the wines have the balance to age beautifully.  –John McIlwain

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Lignier, Georges 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin

From 2.2 hectares of 50 year old vines across three parcels (Les Murats, Le Fourneau, and En Vosne) in Gevrey. For those familiar with older vintages of Georges Lignier, there is a noticeable difference in energy and refinement to the wines which dates to Georges Lignier's nephew Benoit Stehly taking over the winemaking. Yields are lower, farming is improved, and the winemaking shows a pursuit of both fineness of aromas and terroir delineation. Aromatically, the 2012 Gevrey villages shows confited plum, spicebox, and a touch of iron. There is a rush of black raspberry and cherry fruit on the mid-weight palate, followed by a sense of savory earthiness. The finish is long and expansive. While fairly open now, the structure bodes well for mid-term aging (5-10 years). This is quite good for village level. -John McIlwain

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Lignier, Georges 2012 Morey St. Denis 1er Cru 'Clos des Ormes'

Georges Lignier owns the lion's share (2 of 4 Ha) Morey St. Denis Clos des Ormes premier cru located beneath Clos de la Roche on the Gevrey side of the village. In the past the wines have been a tad blocky, but with substantial improvement in both farming and vinification Lignier is producing wine which now lives up to the site's potential. The 2012 is red-fruited and fine on the nose with aromas of super-ripe raspberry, cocoa, licorice, and cool-toned herbs. More fresh berry, and hedge fruit notes follow on the medium-bodied, moderately tannic palate. There is fresh acidity which buoys the structure gives a sense of nerviness to the wine. While this drinks nicely at present, a few years in the cellar should allow the structure to integrate revealing the earthiness within. -John McIlwain

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Lignier, Georges 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes

At the beginning of the 2015 I was lucky enough to taste the 2012s from Domaine Georges Lignier and then visit the domaine and taste with winemaker Benoit Stehly, nephew of Georges Lignier, who after working alongside his uncle has recently taken over the estate. The Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Aux Combottes is a wine wine whose beauty makes me dream of tasting it at its apogee. A lovely blend of perfume, spice, and minerality. Beguiling in its youth, this cries out for a slumber in the cave for 12-15 years. Maybe I'll open it for a Christmas or New Year's years from now and look back fondly on when I first tasted it. So if you're going to insist upon a stocking stuffer, this is a darned pretty option.

Only in Gevrey-Chambertin (or perhaps Vosne-Romanée), can you be surrounded by grand crus and be considered the runt of the litter. Les Combottes is only a premier cru due to a dip in the ground rendering it somewhat cooler than its neighbors. George Lignier's parcel measures .41 hectare and is made up of 50 to 60 year old vines.  Both darker toned on the robe and aromatically than the village. Floral and black-fruited giving way to wood smoke, black tea, and game on the nose. This is ripe, savory, concentrated, poised, and mineral without giving the impression of heaviness. The finish is succulent, complex and very long. I like the energy here; the purity of fruit is framed by serious—though not severe—structure. -John McIlwain

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