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Romain Lignier: a tribute

Romain Lignier, one of Burgundy’s most engaging and skilful young growers died of cancer in July this year. He was 34. Robert Rolls pays tribute to the man behind Domaine Hubert Lignier.

Romain Lignier was hugely popular among his peers, and from every village in the Côte D’Or hundreds downed tools to attend his funeral service at the church in Morey-St-Denis.

Romain took over the winemaking from his father, Hubert, in 1991. Hubert had already established a fine reputation after he began bottling at the Domaine in the early 1980s. He schooled Romain in making wine with a light touch and full respect for the individual terroir of their holdings across the three villages of Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin.

Given the terroir, Romain always maintained that 90% of the end result was due to diligence in the vineyard. He worked hard to ensure he harvested the best quality fruit possible. The results since his first vintage have been remarkably consistent: hitting the heights when the vintage allowed but always achieving very pure fruit, even in the most awkward of years.

Like others of his generation Romain was keen to exchange ideas and techniques and regularly organized local tastings with his peers. His curiosity to discover what others could do with the Pinot Noir grape also took him as far afield as Oregon in the US.

Nowhere is the importance of succession more evident than amongst the great Domaines of Burgundy. It is becoming increasingly common that siblings have not the skill nor inclination to maintain the reputation of a famous Domaine. It is the Lignier’s personal tragedy, and a matter of great sadness for all Burgundy enthusiasts, that their seamless transition from father to son was cut short. Romain leaves his young American wife, Kellen, and two small children, perhaps one of whom will prove a worthy successor one day.

Written by Robert Rolls

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