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Jasper Morris MW's informative Burgundy website can be found here:

Jasper Morris MW
explores the history, terroir and style of two of Burgundy’s finest wines, highlighting the unique nature of the strikingly mineral Cros Parantoux, ‘a wine that does not resemble any other wine of Vosne-Romanée’, and the ‘intricate network of detailed flavours’ that constitute the regal La Romanée, the jewel in the crown of the Liger-Belair stable.



La Romanée, Grand Cru, Monopole of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair

The Liger-Belair family has a glorious history combining the church, the army and the wine trade. The first General Liger-Belair acquired the Château de Vosne-Romanée in 1815, as well as various vineyards; then, when his nephew and adopted heir married a Marey heiress, the empire grew rapidly: at one point the Liger-Belairs owned La Tâche, La Romanée, La Grande Rue and significant holdings of Clos de Vougeot and Chambertin, along with an array of Vosne-Romanée premiers crus including vines in Malconsorts, Chaumes, Reignots, Suchots and Brûlées. Unfortunately, complicated succession issues meant that much of the domaine was sold at auction in August 1933. Canon Just Liger-Belair and Comte Michel Liger-Belair between them managed to save La Romanée. Comte Michel’s son Henry became a general in the army like his forebear, so the vines were looked after by sharecroppers and the wines sold through négociants.

Vicomte – now Comte - Louis-Michel Liger-Belair decided to recreate the family domaine in 2000, beginning with two plots of Vosne-Romanée and premier cru Les Chaumes. Two years later he took back control of Aux Reignots and La Romanée, although a commercial contract with Bouchard Père & Fils to distribute a proportion of the latter continued until 2006.

The vineyards are ploughed (by horse) and, since 2008, farmed biodynamically with Ecocert certification from 2012. Chickens amble around the courtyard of the Château de Vosne-Romanée as well, but there is nothing casual or rustic about the vineyard work that forms the backbone of the revived domaine’s  success.

Louis-Michel’s aim is to pick quickly once the grapes are ripe, sort them thoroughly on a table de tri, remove the stalks and then cool the grapes to below 15°C for a week of pre-maceration. Originally all the wines were destemmed, though since 2010 those vineyards with a higher proportion of clay in the soil retain a proportion (15-20%) of whole clusters. After fermentation, the wines are aged in new wood.

These are extremely fine and stylish wines, more than justifying Louis-Michel’s decision to re-establish the Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. He favours the school of delicacy and finesse rather than deep-coloured power, it should be noted. His wines have a seamless grace to them which will provide joy in years to come.

The jewel in the crown is of course La Romanée, Grand Cru, and Monopole of the domaine. At this level individual flavour descriptors are largely inadequate. La Romanée was put together piecemeal by General Louis Liger-Belair and his adopted son Louis-Charles Bocquillon Liger-Belair in the early 19th century. Six parcels shown as separate on a plan of 1760 were bought by the Liger-Belairs between 1815 and 1826 to make a holding of 0.8154 hectares, increased to 0.8452 by the 1930s, when the Liger-Belair family had to sell up. La Romanée remains the smallest grand cru in Burgundy.

From 2005 La Romanée has been entirely farmed, vinified, matured, bottled and sold by the Domaine du Comte Liger- Belair in the person of Comte Louis-Michel, who has been looking after the vineyard since 2002.

The near rectangle of La Romanée is on a healthy 12 per cent slope directly above La Romanée-Conti. In fact to make the shape properly rectangular, a small slice would need to be transferred from la Romanée-Conti, which is not going to happen! La Romanée has less clay than the latter, with a friable topsoil mixed in with plenty of stones and fragments of rock. The vines are planted north-south, across the slope rather than up and down. A small proportion of the vines date back to 1915, while half were replanted just after the last World war. Such old vines contribute significantly to fulfilling the potential of La Romanée.

La Romanée the wine is made up of such an intricate network of detailed flavours, set against a background of majestic scale, that only the passage of years in bottle allows the glory to be fully revealed. Expect an aristocratic bearing with precision and exceptional intensity, the flavours tiptoeing across the palate with complete mastery.

La Romanée from Domaine du Comte Liger has it all: an extraordinarily evocative name, a great historical pedigree, and now the care and attention in the vines and the recently renovated cellar which it deserves. It is one of Burgundy’s finest jewels, and happily is in excellent hands.


Cros P

Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Cros Parantoux, Domaine Rouget

The fame of Cros Parantoux is inextricably linked to the legendary Henri Jayer (1922-2006), who replanted the land in the early 1950s after it had been abandoned since phylloxera and subsequently lain fallow. ‘It is a thankless vineyard. You have to use explosives to blast a hole to use for a replacement vine’, reported Henri Jayer to Jacky Rigaux. He also noted that Etienne Camuzet had grown Jerusalem artichokes here during the war. Henri had had quite enough of them to last a lifetime, by the time hostilities ended.

Historically, Cros Parantoux did not have the pedigree which it has today. Neither Dr Lavalle (1855) nor Camille Rodier (1920) placed the vineyard in the top category of their rankings, and initially the vineyard was not classified as 1er Cru. However soon after planting began in 1953 Henri Jayer applied for an upgrade which was rapidly delivered.

In the early years the grapes were from Cros Parantoux where blended into a cuvée of Vosne-Romanée. The first vintage bottled by Henri Jayer himself was 1978 and his last 2001. There are Méo-Camuzet bottlings since 1985 and Emmanuel Rouget since 1989. All the wines being offered (2005-2019) would be entirely Emmanuel Rouget’s work, though Henri Jayer himself lived to see the 2005 harvest.

The Cros part of the name comes either from a corruption of crais, ‘chalky’ (according to Jean-Nicolas Méo) or of creux, a dip in the ground (according to Emmanuel Rouget), though oddly enough each of their explanations refers more accurately to the holdings of the plot belonging to the other vigneron. Parantoux was probably the name of a previous owner of the site. Domaine Rouget’s plot is exposed partly to the east and partly to the north, on light friable soil with few stones. Their holding covers 0.7177 ha, represented by blocks 50 and 51 on the map, out of 1.01ha in total, and represents the part of the vineyard previously owned and planted up by Henri Jayer.

Most of the rows of vines, except the southern half of plot 51, run north-south, as do the vines in the part of Richebourg known as Les Verroilles, which is separated from Cros Parantoux just by a murger, a pile of stones which will have been formed from what was cleared out of the vineyard when it was planted.

Emmanuel Rouget is the nephew of the late Marcelle Jayer, née Rouget and wife of Henri Jayer. Emmanuel, now based in Flagey-Echézeaux, currently farms the vineyards which formerly belonged to the three Jayer brothers, Henri, Georges and Lucien. Rouget’s sons Nicolas and Guillaume have joined their father, at which point the name of the domaine changed to just Domaine Rouget.

The wines continue to be made broadly in the same style as those of Henri Jayer. The grapes are sorted both in the vineyard and again in the cuvérie, before being destalked and fermented after a cool pre-maceration. Emmanuel Rouget favours pumping over ahead of punching down. The wine is matured in barrels from François Frères for half the cellar, along with Taransaud and Cavin. Cros Parantoux, indeed all the Rouget crus, are matured in 100% new oak.

Cros Parantoux makes a wine of striking minerality, more so than any of its neighbours. Though severe in youth, it ages beautifully over a long period. This is a site which may be enjoying global warming, at least to the extent that it has so far reached. Certainly the 2018 from, both domaines were absolutely compelling wines, the best I have tasted out of barrel.

Those expecting a hyper-succulent wine from Rouget’s Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux have missed the point. Their holding of Cros Parantoux is a cool, hillside vineyard and the first sensation is one of almost pure minerals on the palate. Then all the different fruits begin to appear: some red, some black, each in its place and generating a sense of precision. The longer the wine is in the mouth, the more there is to taste. With bottle-age the wine will become richer and more rounded.

Cros Parantoux does not resemble any other wine of Vosne-Romanée. It stands alone as one of a kind.

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