2014 1er Cru Domaine Comte Armand
|Sub-district||Côte de Beaune|
Two parcels - Bretterins and Bas de Duresses. Very mineral - on rock on Bretterins and deep clay soil in Duresses. A mix of 65 and 30 year old vines in each parcel. Rich and classy - the better terroir shows at once - there's a lovely richness of fruit and also a saline/chalky kicker so it stays fresh. Drinking range: 2019 - L&S (Nov 2015)
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Good full red. Aromas of dark cherry and menthol show some floral lift but come across as backward today. A step up in fruit intensity from the basic 2014 Auxey-Duresses bottling but still a bit lean compared to the 2015 version. Nicely delineated, saline wine with noteworthy calcaire energy and definition. The tannins arrive fairly early, giving the finish a slight dryness but very good shape. Drinking range: 2020 - 2027 Rating: 90 Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com (Mar 2017)
(a blend of two 1ers, Les Bréterins and Bas de Duresses – the vines run from 35 to 75 years of age). Here the nose is compositionally similar to that of the straight villages though with notably better layering to it. There is also more size, weight and power to the slightly finer medium weight flavors that culminate in a balanced, youthfully austere and delicious finish. This is really quite good because while there is a trace of rusticity it is noticeably less prominent. In a word, lovely. 2020+ Rating: 90 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2016)
Good concentration of elegant black fruit, herbs, and forest floor flavours. Great value for this much flavour. Rating: 7/10 Susie Barrie MW (Jan 2016)
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 said from the outset that he wanted to make 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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