Georges Lignier, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”
Georges Lignier, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”

Georges Lignier, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”

Burgundy , France 2018 (750mL)
Regular price$96.00
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Georges Lignier, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”

Georges Lignier may not be the most famous member of Burgundy’s legendary Lignier family—that title belongs to his cousin, Hubert—but when it comes to prime vineyard parcels in his home village of Morey-Saint-Denis, Georges’ collection is second to none. He’s the largest landowner in the Grand Cru Clos St. Denis (with a whopping hectare and a half), a significant presence in the nonpareil Clos de la Roche, and, just downslope from the latter, he farms two hectares in the prime Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes.” 

First off, I must remark on the price of this wine, which is unbelievably low given the proximity of this site to Grand Cru royalty. Second, I must emphasize what a picture-perfect expression of Morey-Saint-Denis it is; when I think of the best wines of this village, I think of refined, lithe, perfumed Pinot Noirs full of generous, velvet-soft wild berry fruit and delicate notes of underbrush. In the 2016 vintage, Georges Lignier and his nephew, Benoît Stehly, who apprenticed for over a decade before taking control of production in 2008, have planted a flag in the clay and limestone of Morey-Saint-Denis and said, convincingly, “we are here.” This estate has been on my radar for many years now, but this wine has elevated them to another plane: I don’t think it’s possible to find a more sophisticated, complex expression of Morey-Saint-Denis at this price. This is a bonafide steal for anyone serious about cellar-worthy red Burgundy, and if ever there were a time to take your limit (six bottles today), this would be it. Across the board, Lignier is making some of the most finessed, nuanced wines in this star-studded appellation. 

Map lovers should call up a schematic of Morey-Saint-Denis to see just how close the Clos des Ormes Premier Cru is to Grand Cru Clos de la Roche. It shares its rocky, free-draining limestone-clay soil structure with its uphill neighbor, but the wines show a more delicate, refined expression. Of the four perfectly situated hectares that comprise “Clos des Ormes,” Georges Lignier owns half of those, making him the most recognizable name among the eight producers who farm there. The parcel is a gem among Lignier’s holdings, despite the fact that, at an average of 45 years old, they are some of the youngest vines in his portfolio. Arguably, no one in Morey-Saint-Denis is holding onto better real estate than Georges Lignier, and he knows how to work that to his advantage—and yours, once this remarkably elegant Premier Cru makes its way to your cellar. 

Ligner farms all of his land according to the principles of lutte raisonnée, avoiding the use of herbicides and applying chemical treatments only when absolutely necessary. Same goes for heavy machinery in the vineyard—Lignier is principled, but he’s also committed to producing consistently excellent wine. Unique to Morey producers, the domaine allows a cover crop of grass to grow between rows, encouraging the vines to dig deep into the bedrock. Ligner infuses his wines with lush, complex aromatics by harvesting the fruit slightly later than his neighbors do.

In the cellar, as in the vineyard, Lignier puts a unique spin on the classic Morey style, de-stemming around 80% keeping a close eye on barrel levels and fermentation temperatures, and applying a judicious use of new oak—about 20% for his Premiers Crus, as is the case with today’s wine. All fermentations are spontaneous, and after 18 months of aging in small barrels, the 2016 “Clos des Ormes” was bottled without fining or filtration, but there are no “off” aromas to be found. There’s just enough of that classic earthy mushroom character to point your compass straight to Burgundy in a blind tasting.

In the glass, the “Clos des Ormes” shows a paler hue than other wines in the Lignier lineup, which can be deceptive, since there’s no shortage of flavor concentration and vivid aromatics. There’s a brambly, wild berry perfume that takes you on a journey to Middle Earth—picture yourself walking through a cool, damp, overgrown forest, picking ripe strawberries and juicy cherries along a path strewn with just-fallen leaves and ferns. That bright red fruit is almost Oregonian, but then there’s that classic umami note of chanterelles, freshly foraged and still covered in soil, that brings you right back to the Côte de Nuits. An hour-long decant really lets this wine shows off its remarkably fragrant characteristics, combining the elegance of Chambolle-Musigny with the rusticity of Gevrey-Chambertin. There are no hard edges here; just soft, silky tannins, pure red fruit, and just enough of a savory, mineral-tinged accent to make your mouth water. The 2016 is just now coming into its ideal drinking window, and will bring immense pleasure through the next 5-7 years. Serve it between 60 and 65 degrees in a generously sized Burgundy stem to let those incredible aromas really open up. There are so many easy pairings that come to mind—summertime burgers from the grill are an obvious choice, as is duck with cherries or confited in cassoulet—but if you want a classic, sophisticated pairing, I can’t think of a better match for this brilliant, food-friendly Burgundy than the iconic Zuni chicken. Honestly, though, you really can’t go wrong, and I don’t just mean that in regards to the menu. This is a high-value Premier Cru purchase you will absolutely not regret.

Georges Lignier, Morey-St-Denis Premier Cru “Clos des Ormes”




Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France


Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France


Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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