2017 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand


Tasting this in the cellar, the final wine is not yet complete so we tasted the 2 constituent parts and then a final blend put together by Paul. The first part (40%) comes from the younger vines which are between 35 and 55 years old. There is great poise to this and lovely push. There is a firmness that pushes back at you here, a remarkable powerful wall of minerality that is like a brooding edifice. Creating a crisp backdrop to the nice weight of bright red fruit. Pretty Pinot with a lifted character. Crunchy and nervy. The majority (60%) will be made up of the old vine parcel, 65-90 year old vines. This component is on another plain. So much more richness here. a lovely sweeter feel. Great depth. Denser, really quite wonderfully indulgent. A much more luxurious and decadent feel. Darker red fruit and super texture. The resultant blend is very impressive. Somehow more perfumed on the nose. This expresses itself really nicely. generous but well measured. Comes together well and you totally see the decision on these proportions. That dense richer fruit sits well on the brighter, firmer lift of the younger vines. Good delivery now - ample weight and good level of ping. Nicely complementary components that end up well balanced but certainly generous on the fruit side. Drinking range: 2025 - 2033L&S(Nov 2018)

* This is a pre-shipment/primeur offer. All orders are accepted under the TERMS of this offer which differ from the terms of the rest of the site.

(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). There is just enough wood present to merit mentioning as it frames the much earthier and slightly riper blend of both red and dark currant scents that are cut with leather and underbrush nuances. The supple medium-bodied flavors possess reasonable though not excellent mid-palate concentration before terminating in a velvety and lingering finish that exhibits focused power. The supporting tannins are sufficiently firm that this youthfully austere effort will need a decade plus of cellar time before it arrives at its apogee. Drinking range: 2029 - Rating: 92 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com(Apr 2020)

The 2017 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru has a wonderful bouquet that fulfills its potential from barrel, offering immediately seductive brambly red fruit, crushed minerals and pressed rose petals. The 25–30% new oak is so neatly folded into the fruit that it is barely noticeable. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and quite citrus-driven, revealing orange peel and blood orange notes. Linear at first and then gently fans out and gains depth toward the persistent finish. Superb. Drinking range: 2024 - 2055 Rating: 94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com(Jan 2020)

(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). Once again there is just enough wood present to merit mentioning as it frames the much earthier blend of both red and dark currant scents that are cut with leather and underbrush nuances. The supple medium-bodied flavors possess reasonable though not excellent mid-palate concentration before terminating in a velvety and lingering finish. The supporting tannins are sufficiently firm that this will need a decade plus of cellar time before it arrives at its full apogee. Drinking range: 2029 - Rating: 90-93 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com(Apr 2019)

Pale garnet. Light nose. Quite deceptive. Doesn’t shout! It’s all buried underneath and on the finish. Seeps up. Very appetising but not at all showy. Drinking range: 2023 - 2033 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com(Jan 2019)

The Volnay may not be as wild nor as tannic as the Pommard, 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux, Domaine Comte Armand, but these two elite Comte Armand wines look amazing in 2017. Rating: 18.5+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com(Jan 2019)

The 2017 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru was tasted from different sectors of the vineyard. The first sample, tasted directly from tank, comes from two parcels, one at the bottom part of the clos populated by 45- to 65-year-old vines on clay-rich soils, and another located in a plot of 35- to 38-year-old vines. This has a precise, focused bouquet of black cherries, bilberry, a touch of oyster shell and just a hint of blue fruit. The 30% new oak is neatly integrated. The medium-bodied palate shows supple tannins laced with a fine bead of acidity. It exerts a gentle grip and feels quite saline toward the finish. A second sample from limestone soils demonstrates a little more amplitude and a higher percentage of red fruit, not to mention a silkier finish, while a third sample from 86- to 98-year-old vines provides the floral scents and the persistency, perhaps the intellect, of what will be the final blend. This does not possess quite the persistency of the greatest Clos des Epeneaux that I have encountered, yet it is undoubtedly a beautifully made wine. Drinking range: 2023 - 2045 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com(Jan 2019)

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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