Domaine Virgile Lignier-Michelot – Among the “Must-Haves” for 2010 ~ and beyond

The man behind many of 2010s most memorable wines!

Having heard much recently of the rise in popularity of this estate with multiple international wine critics as well as professional sommeliers, I made a point to elbow my way through the crowd surrounding Virgile’s booth at this year’s Grand Jours De Bourgogne. Tasting his wines revealed not only some of the highlights of the event, but likewise one of the wines of the vintage.

Based in Morey-Saint-Denis on the Rue des Jardins, just around the corner from Domaine Perrot Minot is one of the oldest properties in the village. Originally established at the end of the last century (circa 1900), today’s Domaine Lignier-Michelot – its stone walls modernly adorned with a strikingly red metal Domaine placard – reflects the dedication and determination of one man: Virgile Lignier. As the third generation of vignerons to tend the family’s holdings, he is the first – and only – Lignier insistent upon estate bottling – and so much more.

Virgile’s ancestral line before him witnessed the splitting of the family property throughout the 1900s, with his grandfather (Maurice Lignier) being the first to plant vineyards on their holdings, which spans some 21 acres across Morey, Chambolle and Gevrey. In the 1960s, Virgile’s father continued the vineyard work, taking over for Maurice, being content to sell the family’s production to local negociants. Joining his father in 1992, Virgile would begin instituting many of the improvements witnessed in his wines today – beginning with estate bottling.

By the 2000 vintage, Virgile was the sole director of the Domaine upon his father’s retirement. Advancements Chez Lignier-Michelot included Virgile’s move to a vineyard management philosophy known as lutte raisonnee, which further led him to experiments with biodynamic viticulture. This move to agriculture Biologique now complete – since the 2006 vintage – Lignier-Michelot is in the process of obtaining certification. Further advancements Chez Lignier-Michelot (some as recent as the 2008 vintage) include higher percentages of whole clusters during vinification; a move that no doubt resulted in a collection of the most elegant and transparent 2010s one is likely to experience.

As a leader amongst the finest estates in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis – all of whom seem to be annually meeting together towards further refining their wares – Virgile Lignier is producing wines of undeniable complexity, as well as purity and transparency that are simply stunning. These traits are no doubt thanks in part to the average age of his vines, which often exceed 50 years of age. Burghound has for the last several vintages characterized these as “among the most elegant in the Cote D’Or”; while particular 2010s from this Domaine were described by the Wine Advocate as “striking, impeccable, elegant, racy and absolutely irresistible.”

Indeed it is appropriate to conclude that today’s Lignier-Michelot is on that list of must-haves for those serious about Burgundy’s very best.

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