|Côte de Beaune
|Grand Clos des Épenots
Tasted blind at the Burgfest 2014 tasting, the 2014 Pommard 1er Cru Grand Clos des Epenots from Domaine de Courcel smells of blackcurrant cordial on the nose (Ribena to be exact!). The palate is over-extracted, one-dimensional and dull as dishwater with a mean and bitter finish. This was roundly castigated by all attendees at this blind tasting. Just a wine derailed by the hail. Tasted September 2017. Rating: 80 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Nov 2017)
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(80% of this vineyard was affected by hail in 2014): Dark red. Reticent but pure aromas of redcurrant, smoke and crushed herbs. Distinctly tight and a bit lean but opens out on the back end, showing good breadth and juicy persistence, with the tannins surprisingly pliant. These 2014s spent two years in the same barrels prior to being assembled for the bottling. Drinking range: 2021 - 2028 Rating: 91 Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (Mar 2017)
(from an enormous 4.8 ha parcel with vines ranging from 50 to 65 years of age). Here the nose is quite similar to that of the Fremiers with just a bit more complexity. This extra complexity continues onto the exceptionally rich, indeed this is almost viscous, in its density yet the middle weight plus flavors are not top heavy. Like all of these 2014s the supporting tannins are quite firm and mature but even so this is going to require a long snooze in a cool cellar as it would be largely pointless to open one of these young, other than in the interest of science. 2029+ Rating: 91-93 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2016)
Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (Jan 2016)
Domaine de Courcel
One of the great domaines of Pommard, with a 400 year history in the same family. The domaine produces a small amount of Bourgogne Chardonnay, a completely over-performing Bourgogne Rouge, a village Pommard (Vaumuriens, 1.44 ha), but the biggest part of the domaine consists of four great Premier Cru expressions of the terroir of Pommard, Fremiers (0.79 ha), Croix Noires (0.58 ha), Grand Clos des Epenots (4.89 ha) and Rugiens (1.07 ha). These represent a very different style to the Clos des Épeneaux of Comte Armand, for example. Yves Confuron, the régisseur, describes the difference between the two top wines by saying that the Grand Clos is 'terreux' while the Rugiens is 'aérien'.
The aim is to limit yields to around 25hl/ha, to attain optimum ripeness. The vines are ploughed, and pruned carefully to suit each one, then de-budded in spring and green-harvested in August to keep the fruit load balanced. Following Yves' usual practice the harvest is late and the vatting is long - usually around a month, with a cold maceration leading into a cool fermentation, and a long post-fermentation soak under the protection of the carbon dioxide given off by the fermentation. The wines are developed in barrel over 21 to 23 months, with a third of the barrels being replaced each year. After racking they are bottled without fining or filtration.
The domaine produces wines with astonishing depth and density that still retain the freshness, just like Yves' own wines at Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot. They are classic vins de garde and patience is advised - and will be amply rewarded.
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