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Average critic rating : 88.0 points
The 2012 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Gruenchers comes from out-sourced grapes although Thibault does everything in the vineyard. It has a compact bouquet that does not quite own the vivacity of the Gruenchers from other growers. The palate is medium-bodied with a latte-tinged opening. The oak is still a little conspicuous here, but it is harmonious on the finish. Fine. ||Though I have met Thibault Liger-Belair several times in the melee of the London Burgundy tastings, this was actually the first time that I had visited his cellars, stationed on the busy RN74 artery as it swerves through the village of Nuits-Saint-Georges. He actually started on the communication side of the wine business, before relocating from Paris and establishing the domaine in 2001. In case you were wondering (as I was) he is distantly related to Louis-Michel Liger-Belair in Vosne: their great-grandfathers were brothers. The barrel cellars lie below the grand maison that on first appearances is spacious for a Burgundy domaine. That might be because of the depletion of yields in recent vintages, Thibault’s 2012 averaging only 16 hectoliters per hectare on average. Still, this is a vigneron that has expanded his holdings in recent years, most recently into Moulin-a-Vent in Beaujolais, whose notes I have included here for no lesser reason than they are too bloody good to just sit on. Thibault told me that he stumbled across a Beaujolais grower who was blissfully unaware of the currency of old vine material. “I was shocked when I asked him how old the vines were,” he recalled with glee. “He did not know their age exactly. But he was 80 years old, and he said that when he was a boy, they were referred to as ‘vieilles vignes’!” I have always found Thibault an easygoing person, candid with his views, one of the most garrulous winemakers in the region. Gregory Gouges forewarned that if I videoed Thibault, I would be unable to make him stop talking, which my interviewee admitted was true before commencing his oration. But that is no bad thing when you are a young, ambitious winemaker galvanized by what you are doing and the tenets you bring to your wines that are invariably top drawer. Burgundy and Nuits-Saint-Georges in particular, need people like Thibault. Overall, these were astutely crafted wines that expressed their terroir with panache. Sure, there is a couple that seemed a little “iffy”, for example the “crazy” Charmes-Chambertin, but otherwise the passion that Thibault shows as a winemaker is translated into the passion shown by his wines. N.B. Subscribers can watch a video I took of Thibault discussing the vintage, filmed in his cellars in Nuits-Saint-Georges. I begin with Thibault’s quartet of impressive Beaujolais wines. Having experienced a 1934 Fleurie, he is convinced that there is immense untapped potential in this region (to which I agree.) Moving to the Cote d’Or, Thibault showed me through his barrel samples from the negoce side of the business (labelled “Thibault Liger-Belair Successeurs”) and from his own vineyards (labelled “Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair”.) eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
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