A group of vintners from Burgundy's renowned Nuit Saint Georges appellation is applying to have its Les Saint Georges vineyard promoted from premier cru to grand cru status.
Liger-Belair…’Burgundy has evolved’
Thibault Liger-Belair, who owns more than 2ha of the 7ha vineyard, is one of a team of producers preparing the application to France’s appellations authority, the INAO.
The INAO now needs a ‘cahier de charges’ specifying terroir and soil characteristics, yields, planting conditions, harvesting methods and historical justifications for such a promotion.
INAO office manager Eric Vincent told Decanter.com that after detailed examinations of the terroir, the application would be forwarded to INAO headquarters in Paris.
Les Saint Georges is one of 41 premiers crus of Nuits Saint Georges but has long been considered the very best terroir of the region, which has no grand crus.
Liger-Belair, who has teamed up with Gregory Gouges of Domaine Henri Gouges, Erwan Faiveley of Domaine Faiveley and Philippe Chezeaux of Domaine Chevillon-Chezeaux, among others, told Decanter.com the promotion would ‘repair a historical anomaly’ in that the original decision was taken in a specific economic and political environment.
He said Les Saint Georges could have been classified as grand cru, but its candidacy was not submitted because the then owners, ‘in a time of economic crisis’, wanted to avoid paying the higher taxes that grand cru vineyards were liable to.
Liger-Belair is ‘aware’ of doubts about the initiative, including those of his cousin Louis Michel Liger-Belair, who is president of Burgundy’s grand cru union and who runs Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne Romanée.
One concern, according to Thibault Liger-Belair, is that such a promotion may lead to further promotions and open a Pandora’s Box, ‘diluting’ the meaning of grand cru.
Frederic Mugnier of Jacques Frederic Mugnier, who owns Clos de la Marechale vineyard in Nuits Saint Georges, said that the end result would be creating possibly a new ‘super grand cru classification for the original grands crus.’
But Thibault Liger-Belair does not share such concerns. ‘Burgundy has evolved and nothing is fixed,’ he said. ‘We must remember that the Cote de Nuits gets its name from Nuits Saint Georges.’
Written by Panos Kakaviatos