2014 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand
|Sub-district||Côte de Beaune|
|Vineyard||Clos des Épeneaux|
90% of the Clos got hailed, so this year all has been vinified together, with 30% new wood and 10% whole bunches. A mere 12 hl/ha, so that 5.2 hectares produced only 22 barrels. Juicy and dense, with firm tannins (as ever), but somehow the juice keeps the upper hand, and it flows well. Densely structured as it should be, and the concentration that comes from this low yield is very attractive. Drinking range: 2022 - L&S (Nov 2015)
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Tasted blind at the Burgfest 2014 tasting, the 2014 Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux from Comte Armand has quite a nuanced nose with dusky red berry fruit, autumn leaves and a touch of stewed black tea. I like the cohesion and focus here. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine line of acidity, nicely balanced and supple in the mouth. There is something easy-drinking and approachable about this Pommard: well crafted and with satisfying tension. While not the greatest in recent vintages, this is still a pleasurable Pommard that overcame the hail that destroyed 90% of the vineyard that year. Tasted September 2017. Drinking range: 2018 - 2028 Rating: 90 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com(Nov 2017)
Dark red. Deep fruit aromas of plum and redcurrant are complicated by leather, game and earth nuances. Surprisingly silky and broad, with its red fruit and smoke flavors joined by a note of milk chocolate. The wine's substantial dusty but ultimately refined tannins currently shorten its finish but there's enough mid-palate density here for this wine to come into balance with bottle aging. Finishes with hints of olive tapenade and milk chocolate. With aeration this wine showed a lovely combination of sweetness and acidity. Drinking range: 2022 - 2030 Rating: 91 Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com(Mar 2017)
Dark berry fruit, slightly jammy. Quite rich on the strike, full, plenty of tannins, but also good freshness. It is concentrated, but not too rich The tannins are pretty robust at the moment. It has a burly quality, but the fruit is sweet. It finishes on a fresh bite, and a touch of that tannin. 18.25 As it opened up - Paul put it in a decanter - the tannins softened and became less robust...it will mellow. I think Paul bought in some barrels from the Côte de Nuits, so he would not have new oak, and he feels the tannins are more from the barrels. Sarah Marsh MW, The Burgundy Briefing(Dec 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 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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