Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is a very recent domaine created at the beginning of the year 2000 by Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, an agricultural engineer and oenologist, with those few parcels of vineyards remaining in family hands. In reality, the domaine is not at all recent ; Louis-Michel is renewing two hundred years of family tradition dedicated to the vines and wines of Burgundy in general, and to Vosne-Romanée in particular.
The Liger-Belair family settled in Vosne when Louis Liger-Belair, napoleonic general, acquired the Chateau of Vosne in 1815. The domaine grew considerably under the general’s direction and that of Louis-Charles, his adopted son who was the son of his sister. Louis-Charles married Ludovie Marey, a well-known family who owned vineyards and had been negoçiants since the eighteenth century.
When the Comte Louis-Charles died, the family’s holdings covered more than sixty hectares principally in the Côte de Nuits with ownership of some of France’s most prestigious appellations: the monopolies of La Romanée, La Tâche, La Grande Rue, a large portion of Malconsorts, parcels of Chaumes, Reignots, and Suchots in Vosne Romanée, Saint Georges and Vaucrains in Nuits St. Georges, Clos Vougeot and Cras in Vougeot, Chambolle, Morey, as well as Chambertin. In addition, a domaine of fifteen hectares at Fleurie in the Beaujolais.
The Comte Henri Liger-Belair, grandson of the Comte Louis-Charles, the eldest child of the family and great grandfather of Louis-Michel died in 1924. He left a wife and ten children in possession of twenty-four hectares of vines and the chateau. The domaine held together until the death of the Comtesse Liger-Belair in 1931. The ten children were still there but two were minors and the law of that era required that all children must be of age in order to distribute the inheiritance or the estate must be sold. Three of the family members did not want to wait until the younger children reached legal adulthood and insisted that the entirety of the domaine be put up for sale. A sad August 31st, 1933 at the town hall of Vosne Romanée when the vineyards were auctioned off. The children witnessed the departure from their patrimony of La Tache, the Malconsorts, the Brulée…..However, two of the children, Just, a priest, and his brother, the Comte Michel, Louis-Michel’s grandfather, banded together to buy back La Romanée, Reignots, and les Chaumes. The vineyards were entrusted to local vignerons, and sales to Burgundian negoçiants.
The Comte Michel died in 1941, during the war before he could redevelop the Domaine. His son, the Comte Henry, Louis Michel’s father, enlisted in the army in 1949, pursued a brilliant career and rose to the rank of general following in the footsteps of his ancestor six generations earlier. He managed the domaine leaving vineyard work to sharecroppers, and commercialization to various shippers.
When he was eight years old Louis-Michel informed his parents that he intended to live in Vosne-Romanée when he grew up. His father informed Louis-Michel that he could not take charge of the domaine unless he became an engineer. Therefore, Louis-Michel majored in science, is a qualified agricultural engineer, has a degree in commerce, and a diploma in oenology from the University of Dijon.
He created his domaine in 2000 by taking back 1.5 hectares of vineyards (Vosne-Romanée La Colombière, Clos du Château, 1er Cru Les Chaumes), and in 2002 he recovered another 1.6 hectares (Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Reignots, La Romanée). In 2006, he rent 5.5 hectares more, including a large parcel of Echezaux, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots, Les Petits Monts and Les Brûlées, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Cras, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-Saint.Georges.
With his wife, Constance, and their three children, Louis-Michel now manages 8.7 hectares of vines in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits St. Georges, and Flagey Echezeaux.