Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is a young domaine started in 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 young; Louis-Michel is renewing two hundred years of family tradition dedicated to Burgundy.
The Liger-Belair family settled in Vosne when Louis Liger-Belair, a 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. Louis-Charles married Ludovie Marey, who was from a well-known Burgundian family that 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. These sixty hectares included some of France’s most prestigious appellations: the monopoles 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, and Chambertin.
The Comte Henri Liger-Belair, grandson of the Comte Louis-Charles, the eldest child of the family and great grandfather of the current head, 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 remained intact until the death of the Comtesse Liger-Belair in 1931.
Of the ten children, two were minors and the law of that era required that all children must be of age in order to receive their inheritance. 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. August 31st, 1933 was a sad day when the vineyards were auctioned off at the town hall of Vosne Romanée. The children witnessed the sale of their patrimony of La Tache, the Malconsorts, the Brulée. However, not all was sold off. Two of the children, one of them 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 but the vineyard work was done by sharecroppers, and wines were sold to various negoçiants.
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 told Louis-Michel that he could not take charge of the domaine unless he became an engineer. Louis-Michel listened to his dad - he majored in science, became an agricultural engineer, and earned a diploma in oenology from the University of Dijon.
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.