2015 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand
|Sub-district||Côte de Beaune|
|Vineyard||Clos des Épeneaux|
Tiny yields here following hail - 15hl/ha, and even worse in 2016, with 13/hl/ha thanks to frost. Deep colour, very blue-purple to black. Aromatic nose of juicy crushed black berries, and palate is a joy of this very dark flavour, rich and persistent, completely gorgeous fruit and a lively balance and length. This is top stuff - really elegant as well as powerful. Terrific. Drinking range: 2024 - L&S (Nov 2016)
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(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). Here the nose is notably riper than the 2016 version yet it manages to retain good freshness to the pure red berry fruit, earthy, floral and spice-suffused aromas. The decidedly dense, tautly muscular and powerful broad-shouldered flavors are underpinned by notably firm tannins and outstanding length on the beautifully complex finale that exhibits just enough warmth to warrant mentioning. This is quite clearly built-to-age and it’s going to need it. In a word, impressive. Drinking range: 2030 - Rating: 94 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2018)
(bottled at the end of May 2017; vinified with 15% whole clusters and aged in 30% new oak): Healthy dark red. Less dark on the nose than this wine appeared to be in November of 2016, with its redcurrant and cherry aromas complicated by menthol and flinty minerality. At once silky and energetic on entry, offering thick yet brisk flavors of acidulated small red fruits, spices and minerals. This highly concentrated wine finishes with substantial ripe tannins, saturating the entire palate and building slowly on the aftertaste. Zinetti did a gentler extraction in 2015 but this wine should still last for a long time. It may well merit an even higher score ten years or so down the road. Rating: 93+ Stephen Tanzer, www.vinousmedia.com (Jan 2018)
(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). As it almost always is chez Armand, this is the most elegant wine in the range with a pure and strikingly complex, if reserved, nose of pure red berry fruit, earthy, floral and spice hints. The sleek, tautly muscular and powerful flavors are underpinned by slightly more sophisticated tannins and outstanding length on the beautifully complex finale. This is quite clearly built-to-age and it’s going to need it. In a word, terrific. Drinking range: - 2027 Rating: 92-94 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 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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