2015 1er Cru Domaine Comte Armand
|Sub-district||Côte de Beaune|
Richer in the sense of more volume in the mouth, and more intensity of fruit too. Lots of depth to the dark berry flavours, with the authoritative 'cut' of wines from this domaine. A cracking example. Drinking range: 2020 - L&S (Nov 2016)
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(a blend of Les Bréterins and Bas des Duresses, the former on calcaire and the latter on clay-based soil; bottled in December of 2016): Healthy full red. Very ripe but sappy aromas of red fruits and licorice. A step up in breadth and finesse of texture from the village Auxey-Duresses, showing a more serious medicinal aspect to its red cherry, mineral and menthol flavors. Finishes classically dry and fairly tannic, considerably longer on the aftertaste than the village version and coating more of the mouth. This comes across as less extreme, not to mention outstanding for its appellation. Rating: 90 Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com (Jan 2018)
(a blend of two 1ers, Les Bréterins and Bas de Duresses – the vines run from 35 to 75 years of age). A slightly more elegant nose offers up liqueur-like aromas of dark cherry liqueur that are trimmed in soft earth and floral nuances. The medium-bodied flavors possess a slightly finer mouth feel along with more evident minerality on the refreshing, balanced, layered and lingering finale. This is a very fine Auxey 1er that should drink well after only 5 years of cellaring but reward 8 to 10. Drinking range: - 2023 Rating: 91 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2017)
Rating: 17.5+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Feb 2017)
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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