2013 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
Vineyard Clos des Épeneaux

Powerful nose, and immediately appealing in the mouth. Lovely balance - a real straight-up classic - damson and cherry fruit with well-judged oak all coming together to make a very handsome fellow indeed, straight-backed and cutting a dash. Pretty brilliant. Drinking range: 2022 - L&S (Dec 2014)

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The 2013 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru has an impressive bouquet with crushed strawberry, star anis and flecks of dried orange peel, perhaps more harmonious than the 2011 and more intense. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit that dovetails into a more savory, slightly grainy-textured finish where it just eases off the gas. Fine, but a more approachable Clos des Epeneaux compared to other recent vintages. Drinking range: 2021 - 2040 Rating: 91 Neal Martin, vinous.com(May 2019)

Red berry fruits. Ripe raspberry. Concentrated. It is medium bodied. The tannins are firm, not as many of them as the 2014. The fruit is sweet, slightly jammy notes and on the finish a good balance of sweet fruit and freshness. Actually this is more elegant then expected. From 2019 Rating: 18.25 Sarah Marsh MW, The Burgundy Briefing(Dec 2016)

(the 5+ ha Clos is composed of approximately 80% Petits Epenots and 20% Grands Epenots; the vine ages run from 18 to 75+ years of age). There is the barest whisper of wood setting off the cool, pure and airy mix of red and dark currant, violet, earth and tea scents. There is a lovely sense of energy to the tight and precise middle weight flavors that are not as dense as the 8 hl/ha yield would suggest. The linear, moderately structured and austere finish is balanced but not generous and it will be interesting to see if the overall mouth feel fleshes out with time in bottle. Note that I doubt that this will drink especially well young so patience will be required. 2023+ Rating: 89-91 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com(Apr 2015)

Rich nose of dark cherry and plum and spice cake too, wonderful velvety texture with a long sweet spices finish, superb Drinking range: 2016 - 2026 Rating: 94 Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, Decanter(Feb 2015)

Rating: 18.5++ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com(Jan 2015)

Mid crimson. Pretty intense, very fruity, scented nose. Masses going on here – a real cocktail that conjures up bees buzzing around collecting pollen somehow. Impressive! Drinking range: 2022 - 2032 Rating: 18 Jancis Robinson MW OBE - www.JancisRobinson.com(Jan 2015)

This was Benjamin Leroux’s last vintage before leaving to work full time on his own négociant business. As such, it wasn’t the best year for a swansong, but this talented young winemaker managed to make a very good Pommard from miniscule yields of 7 hectolitres per hectare. Pale and surprisingly delicate, this has a sweet raspberry core, good structure and none of the rough tannins that some hail-damaged reds show in 2013. Rating: 94 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(Jan 2015)

(just one cuve in 2013; 30% new oak): Dark red. Complex, inviting perfume to the aromas of griotte cherry, prune, espresso and violet. Suave, rich and spicy, combining enticing sweetness and sound acidity. The sappy dark fruit and floral flavors display lovely precision and energy. The serious tannins arrive late, allowing the wine to stretch out on the aftertaste. "Not a monster in 2013," notes new winemaker Paul Zinetti, but fresh and clean. Drinking range: 2022 - 2033 Rating: 91-93 Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com(Jan 2015)

The 2013 Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux has a fragrant bouquet once it loses it inhibitions and wafts from the glass: freshly crushed strawberry, red cherries, granite and just a suggestion of camphor that may or may not be there once in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with a well-balanced, slightly savory entry, plenty of crunchy red berry fruit interlaced with mocha and mushroom scents. It is not the most powerful Clos des Epeneaux, but it is well crafted and feels persistent in the mouth. Drink this over the next 10-15 years. Drinking range: 2017 - 2029 Rating: 90-92 Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com(Dec 2014)

Domaine Comte Armand

A domaine totalling nine hectares, of which the most important part is a magnificent five hectare monopole of the Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux, which was put together by Nicolas Marey in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (along with the DRC Romanée Saint Vivant 'Marey-Monge'). These vineyards were all sold, except for the Clos (now been enclosed by a wall), which came to Jean-François Armand as a dowry when he married Nicolas' daughter in 1826. The Volnay vineyards were added in 1994, followed by parcels in Auxey Duresses.

The current Comte Armand is a lawyer living in Paris, but very supportive of the régisseurs who have looked after this domaine for the thirty 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 for us 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 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. Under Benjamin the wines of the Clos 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. Paul Zinetti, who had worked with Ben for four years, took over in 2014.

The vineyard is cultivated organically (ECOCERT certified) and biodynamically. The grapes are entirely de-stemmed, but left intact, for a five to eight-day cold maceration before the fermentation, which lasts five to ten days, and then the wine remains in the fermenters for between three and fifteen days, depending on the vintage. In most years, the total time with skin contact will be around four weeks, which is longer than most. The wines will then be aged in barrel for between eighteen and twenty-four months, with new wood limited to 30% for the wine from the old vines of the Clos, down to none at all for the village wines.

Paul has nailed his colours to the mast by saying he wants to make a less tannic wine in the Clos, and one which is more about aromatic length. In this he is continuing the route that Ben was following, but perhaps taking it even further.

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