2006 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand

Grapes Pinot Noir
Colour Red
Origin France, Burgundy
District Côte d'Or
Sub-district Côte de Beaune
Village Pommard
Classification 1er Cru
ABV 13.8%
Vineyard Clos des Épeneaux

Benjamin said he would probably leave the young vines cuvée, harvested first, out of the final blend, so the blend is a slightly higher average vine age. As usual, the cuvées tasted apart each have their qualities, but it all comes together in the blend, with good volume, and the density of the thirty year-old given lift and flight by the mid-forty-year-old parcel, and the old vines completing the picture with amazing finesse of scent. Very intense mouthwatering texture. Authoritataive dark-fruit savour.

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As usual we tried different samples. Pretty classic fermentation for the Clos Des Epeneaux. Four weeks maceration, but less plunging than in 2005. Sample one: 28 to 44 year old vines...not racked at the time. 50% new oak, down to 25% in the second year. The grapes hung for three days more on the vine than the younger vines in the previous wine. This is very compact at the moment, battened down, sternly structured and very dense. The tannins are strict, but with no hint of astringency. You can sense the depth of fruit, but it's just clamped down now and the finish is very long, but it is drying. It is really powerful and there are layers when you look hard. (It really does need racking!). Benjamin tells me they were all like this before racking. The potential is there. Second sample: 50 years plus. Racked today. This makes a huge difference to the aroma, which is very expressive, and to the front of the palate, where there is plenty of delicious dark fruit. Rich density of fruit on the middle palate. Very taut on the end of the palate. The tannins are certainly there in quantity, but are less strict, less dry, more ripe and open. Lots of fruit on the finish. Old vines: The oldest were planted in 1930. So they range from 65 years to 72 years. This is not racked yet. Again battened down on the palate but handles it much better than the younger 35 year old vines, so there is dense fruit on the front of the palate. It is meshed and so compact; yes it is rather dry on the finish, but there is fruit evident at the edges and on the very end of the finish there is a very slight sweetness. Very powerful, gravelly and dark. You can imagine the depth and gravitas this will bring to the final blend. 80% new oak. "I will rack this next week. I don't want to wait if it is going to slight dryness. I want to rack and take out some of the new barrels." I did not taste the blend, but potentially Very fine.

Cuvee #1, from vines between 20 and 24 years of age: Good medium red. Smoke, meat and redcurrant on the nose. Supple in the middle but with limited depth. A bit dry and in need of further refining. This juice will go into a second wine, says Leroux, who picked these vines early, then decided he wasn't happy with the ripeness level. He moved to Auxey-Duresses and then came back to the Clos, harvesting nine days later "in good conditions, and with much better phenolic ripeness." Cuvee #2, from vines averaging 35 years of age: Good medium red. Aromatic nose offers redcurrant, cherry, leather, spices and a whiff of white pepper. Bright, sharply focused and perfumed in the mouth, with lovely purity and ripeness. Finishes with excellent life and lift. Cuvee #3, from vines averaging 55 years old: Good medium-deep red. Precise aromas of black cherry, minerals and licorice. Riper and deeper than the younger vines, with an intriguing saline element contributing to the sappy character of this rather serious sample. Finishes with fine tannins and excellent persistence. Cuvee #4, from the oldest vines: Good deep red. Deep, brooding, soil-inflected aromas of red berries, mocha and licorice, plus a faint lactic note due to the recent end to the malolactic fermentation. At once suave and chewy, with pronounced mineral and spice notes. Here the soil character is stronger than the variety. Finishes very long, ripe and airy, with an intriguing flinty nuance and lovely lift. An approximate blend of cuvees 2, 3 and 4: Good deep red. Redcurrant, cherry, leather and spicy oak, complicated by smoky, truffley earth notes. Sweet, dense and rich but at the same time bright and aromatic, with lovely inner-palate energy. Broad but light on its feet, with a sappy character to its subtle flavors of red fruits, spices and minerals. The finish coats the teeth with flavor. Leroux says this is evolving very slowly, but I suspect it could support a fairly early bottling. A very promising 2006.
90 - 92/100

In contrast to the reticence displayed from barrel, now that the ’06 is in bottle it is surprisingly open and expressive with a beautifully layered nose of raspberry, cherry and red pinot fruit nuanced by hints of spice, earth, minerals and a dried herb component that introduces intense, balanced and pure flavors that culminate in serious, mouth coating and well built finish where the tannins are solid but not rustic or aggressive. This will require the better part of a decade to arrive at its majority as the tannins are quite firm and despite the inviting openness of the nose, the finish is on the austere side at present. 2014+

Oak dominant on the nose, but expansive and detailed sour red fruit to dark fruit tones in the mouth. Long and forceful, with an undertow of mineral grace. Very good wine. Extremely complex.


The Comte Armand is a lawyer living in Paris, but very supportive of the régisseurs who have looked after this domaine for the twenty-four years or so that L&S have been buying here. The 1980 vintage, made by one of the many Rossignols of Volnay who was in charge at the time, was a great introduction to the possibilities of the great Clos des Epeneaux vineyard. Then came the era of Pascal Marchand, a young Quebecois who came to do a harvest with Domaine Bruno Clair and just never left. He began a period of radical restructuring and the introduction of organic and then biodynamic farming, while making very dark, dense and long-lived wines. Benjamin Leroux, hugely respected amongst growers who approach things from an organic or biodynamic point of view, then took over, and has refined this approach and changed the way the parcels of vines are divided up for harvesting, paying less attention to just the age of the vines, and more to the underlying soil types. Claude Bourguignon was employed to provide a full geological survey of the Clos as the basis for this. Benjamin is also a master technician if required to be. The wines of the Clos have gained in finesse and precision, while still having the depth and richness expected of a great Pommard. Both Pascal and Benjamin were keen to expand beyond the confines of the Clos, and the Domaine also has vines in Volnay, and, a particular enthusiasm of both Pascal and Benjamin, in Auxey Duresses, where they are convinced of the great potential of some of this village's undervalued and neglected terroirs. Now (2014) the reins are handed to Paul Zinetti, who has worked here with Ben for four years before taking over.

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