I don’t have much to add after last year’s write up, so I will let it stand. I will, however, confirm that after tasting the 2016s from bottle earlier this year, that this is an excellent, if not supremely good vintage chez Lignier-Michelot and perhaps his best to date. Do not miss these.
At this point I'd say Lignier-Michelot has reached cruising altitude. After the better part of a decade emerging on the scene, he seems to have found his voice - sexy, lush and yet honest wines that have an undeniable irresistibility. Prior to 2010, sometimes the wines could appear a little hard or brutish. Not so any more. Whatever coarseness was once present has become refined and polished, with a sweetness of fruit and opulence that remains scaled to appropriate size. Appropriate also is the critical gushing that has ensued.
"Virgile Lignier's take on the 2015 vintage was that ‘just like the 2015 vintage, I would sign up for this quality every year if that was possible!’ … I agree with Lignier that his 2016s are indeed excellent and they are notably better than the average quality I found in 2016." - Allen "Burghound" Meadows
"Virgile Lignier's winemaking has really come into its own in recent years. We caught up at his tasting room in Morey-Saint-Denis ... All in all, this was another sterling set of wines to follow the impressive 2015s and unlike many addresses, at least there should be enough wine to go round." - Neal Martin
Simply put: you should buy these wines.
Lignier-Michelot is among a handful of young winemakers on the Côte who represent the best of “modern” Burgundy: wines that offer profound intensity of rich, sweet fruit, yet lose none of their grace, terroir or elegance. It might be what separates the New from the Old Guard. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend drinking a great Village or 1er Cru and – heaven forefend! – a Grand Cru in extreme youth, many of these hot shots seem to pull off the trick with effortless grace. I am thinking here mostly of producers like Benjamin Leroux, David Croix, Bachelet and Pavelot. Virgile Lignier of Lignier-Michelot fits neatly into this camp and his terroir matches the style well.
With vines mostly in Morey and Gevrey, and a skosh of Chambolle, his powerful, rich style marries very well with the savory hedonism and showy fruit of Gevrey and Morey, in particular. Our visit last Fall was nothing short of stunning: the crystalline, sugary quality of the fruit on all the wines was impressive. Equally impressive was the sense of place, the structural integrity, and energy of all the wines. From Bourgogne to Clos de la Roche, the range was indeed impressive.
Virgile is not reinventing the wheel here. He just follows the path that all quality producers follow: … a third generation grower, Virgile Lignier began overseeing the Domaine with his father in 1992 and took full control of the estate in 2000. With his ascension, all the produce was estate bottled and viticulture at the Domaine transitioned to full biodynamism. … After that lavish attention to the vines (most of which are 50-75 years old), it’s all downhill sledding: more and more whole cluster fermentation, depending on the vintage, natural fermentations after a 4-5 day cold soak, and elevage in 30-50% new oak.
I really cannot recommend these wines highly enough. I only wish I had more to sell than I do. After Harmand-Geoffroy, the most popular re-request from all of you has been Lignier-Michelot’s Bourgogne, and Morey-St.-Denis “En Rue de la Vergey.” I would jump all over these: the wines are deeply satisfying and are profoundly delicious.
2016 Morey-St-Denis “En la Rue de Vergy”
Boy do I love this vineyard!!! From 45+ year old vines from the lieu-dit vineyard famously reclaimed by Bruno Clair and situated on the western border of Bonnes Mares and Clos de Tart. The vineyard is notable for its virtual absence of topsoil and its bedrock of limestone that consistently yields focused, mineral wines with the customary Morey sauvage. I tasted the 2016 from barrel and it delivered much of what I loved about the 2009, and 2010. This ALWAYS delivers.
"A perfumed, cool and airy array is composed of red raspberry along with ample amounts of both earth and floral elements. The medium-bodied flavors are sleeker and more mineral-driven as well while delivering sneaky good length on the saline finish. This isn't as dense but it's finer. A qualitative choice.” 89-91 pts. ♥ "Outstanding" – Burghound
"The 2016 Morey-Saint-Denis En La Rue de Vergy includes 50% whole-bunch fruit this year. It has a well-defined bouquet, darker berry fruit, earthier than say Bruno Clair’s own La Rue de Vergy, but it gains vigor in the glass. The palate is sharp and bright on the entry. I like the tannins here—very fine, slightly chalky with impressive mineralité and harmony on the black tea-tinged finish. It is not a deep or powerful Morey, but it feels long and terroir expressive." 90-92 pts. Neal Martin
2016 Morey-St.-Denis Vieilles Vignes
A selection of 50+ year old vines sourced from across the villages:
“A more restrained and somewhat less elegant nose offers up more deeply pitched aromas are comprised by notes of plum, black cherry and spice. There is both excellent power and mid-palate concentration to the sappy and mouth coating middle weight plus flavors that flash a taut muscularity on the clean, dry and wonderfully long finish. This offers excellent quality for a villages level Morey.” 89-92 pts. ♥ "Outstanding" – Burghound
2016 Morey-St-Denis 1er cru Faconnières
From 65+ year old vines!!! Faconnières (derived from the falconry activities popular here in the Middle Ages) is situated on well-drained and very stony soils directly below Clos de la Roche. This is arguably the finest and best placed of the Morey 1ers Crus. I tasted the 2016 from barrel and the 2011 from bottle with Virgile.
“A background application of wood frames notably ripe yet still very fresh aromas of plum liqueur, violet, lavender and a pretty array of spice wisps. This too is overtly muscular with excellent power and drive characterizing the more mineral-driven flavors that exhibit superb persistence on the balanced finish. This will need to develop more depth to merit the upper end of my projected range but the underlying material appears to be present for that to happen.” 91-94 pts. ♥ "Outstanding" – Burghound
"The 2016 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières, which was blended with 70% whole-bunch fruit, has a rip-roaring bouquet with mineral-infused black fruit, crushed rose petals and hints of dried quince. I love the energy and generosity of this Morey-Saint-Denis. The palate is medium-bodied with fine but firm tannin, with blackberry and traces of tobacco. It exhibits firm grip in the mouth and delivers impressive weight and density on the finish. It will require three or four years to open up but it will be worth the wait." 92-94 pts. Neal Martin
2016 Morey-St-Denis 1er cru Chenevery
From 50+ year old vines, Chenevery sits just below Faconnieres and is composed of much the same soil, without, perhaps, quite the same blessed exposition of Faconnieres. The name derives from the French for “hemp,” which was once grown here extensively. (I thought that only happened in Mendocino!) The Chenevery is always more mineral, tighter and more floral than the Faconniers. Balanced sure, but the scale tips toward the mineral, rather than the fruity. A candidate for the darkest corner of your cellar.
“An elegant and intensely floral nose flashes notes of both red and dark raspberry along with background wisps of spice and earth. The succulent, round and delicious medium weight plus flavors possess excellent mid-palate concentration before concluding in a beautifully lingering finish. The intensity definitely builds from the mid-palate on back and overall this is a refined wine that delivers really good power. Patience.” 91-93 pts. ♥ "Outstanding" – Burghound
2016 Clos de la Roche
“An exuberantly spicy and sauvage-inflected nose of plum and various dark berries is trimmed in just enough wood to notice. There is almost painful intensity to the muscular big-bodied flavors that brim with sappy dry extract that pushes the very firm tannins to the background on the structured and impeccably well-balanced finale. Patience is definitely advised.” 92-95 pts. – Burghound
"The 2016 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru includes 70% whole-bunch fruit with 30% new oak. It has a very exuberant, typical bouquet for this vineyard that goes out of its way to please: copious black cherries, griottes and crushed violet aromas all demanding attention. The palate is sweet and supple on the entry with saturated tannin counterbalanced by a fine bead of acidity, harmonious and linear at first, then fanning out on the second half with lightly peppered black fruit. There is a very long aftertaste here and you can sense the presence of this wine 45 to 60 seconds after it has departed." 95-97 pts. Neal Martin