Domaine Lignier Michelot: it’s the “materia prima” that makes the difference

morey st denis harvest 2014

Above: The 2014 harvest team at Domaine Lignier Michelot (image via the Domaine Lignier Michelot Facebook).

As you peruse the many pages and posts about winemaker and grape grower Virgile Lignier Michelot and his family’s winery, Domaine Lignier Michelot, you find that nearly every one of the great Burgundy writers and trade insiders points to a fundamental shift in the winery when Virgile began making the wines in 2000, taking over for his father.

He underwent “an epiphany in the vineyard,” writes the legendary Burgundy merchant Becky Wasserman on her site.

She echoes a note from her son Peter: “Virgile has changed his philosophy from one of technical winemaker to passionate vitculturist where all energy is spent on ensuring the growth of the very best vines and letting the wine make itself.”

“Father and son had worked well together and without conflict,” writes Burgundy blogger and author Bill Nanson on his excellent site Burgundy Report.

“But in 2000, right from the start, Virgile chose to make changes that reflected his own philosophy — mainly in the vines. Green pruning and working the soil without herbicides were the starting point.”

(We highly recommend Bill’s profile of Virgile and the Domaine, including notes on the growing sites and a handful of tasting notes for some of the top wines.)

Peter perhaps puts it best in an anecdote about an early tasting with Virgile:

It was at a tasting in 2001 at the Domaine that Virgile pulls me off to the side.

Excitedly, he tells me, as if it is a secret, “I finally get it.”

My logical question: “What?”

Virgil: “It’s all in the vineyard. It’s not what I do in here, it’s out there. The raw material.”

Now, Virgile is a man with intensity and infectious energy. I was very excited. And I haven’t been let down since as his wines have continued to climb since that day.

Virgile represents a growing movement of young winemakers in Burgundy who have embraced transparency and anti-interventionism in winemaking over manipulation and technology.

After all, it’s the materia prima — Virgile’s “raw material” — that makes the wine, not the winemakers.

We’re thrilled that Virgile will be joining us at the Boulder Burgundy Festival this year.

Click here for details on the Friday, November 21 dinner to be held at Flagstaff House in his honor.