POMMARD

2017 1er Cru Épenots Domaine Nicolas Rossignol

Grapes Pinot Noir
Colour Red
Origin France, Burgundy
District Côte d'Or
Sub-district Côte de Beaune
Village Pommard
Classification 1er Cru
ABV 13%
Vineyard Épenots

The Épenots parcel is made up of vines that were planted 112 years ago (75% of the cuvée) with some that are 50 years old. The oldest vines are a little plot owned by Vincent, who works for Nicolas and trusts him to make the best wine with them. The result is Grand Cru quality. Very rich and complete on the nose. A mineral core. Red, black fruit and spice. The deep fruit is joined by mouth-coating velvety tannins. Slightly closed at this stage but the tension and energy is apparent and hugely impressive. Drinking range: 2026 - L&S (Nov 2018)

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Pale crimson. Light nose. A little austere at the moment but the fruit is fresh enough and has clearly been groomed for a long life. Very resonant and pretty impressive! Drinking range: 2023 - 2033 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson MW OBE - www.JancisRobinson.com(Jan 2019)

Always one of Rossignol's best bottlings, the 2017 Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots unfurls in the glass with a complex bouquet of orange rind, cherries, cassis, dried flowers, rose petals and spices. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, satiny and concentrated, with lovely depth and dimension at the core, framed by fine-grained tannins. There's less fleshy fruit that in the stunning 2016 and 2015 renditions, but this has everything it needs to develop beautifully in bottle. Drinking range: 2019 - Rating: 92-94 William Kelley, The Wine Advocate(Jan 2019)

The 2017 Pommard Les Epenots 1er Cru comes from 112-year-old vines and is made with 60% whole clusters. (Rossignol has started a sélection massale program from this parcel.) The focused, sophisticated bouquet offers superb mineralité and a palpable sense of energy. The medium-bodied palate delivers silky-smooth tannin, wonderful acidity and a mélange of red and black fruit laced with sage, white pepper and a touch of clove. This is a stunning Pommard from Nicolas Rossignol. Drinking range: 2020 - 2045 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, vinous.com(Jan 2019)

112 year old vines. Made a selection massale. “I am using this genetic potential for the estate. For me Epenots is the summary of all the wines in the cellar in one wine. It is my ‘grand cru’.” This is seductive at first, unfolding into a powerful, but restrained palate with an impressive intensity and grip. A deal of matter and layering. Compact. There is a battened down energy here. Very long, but reserved for now. Rating: 18.75 Sarah Marsh MW, The Burgundy Briefing(Dec 2018)

Domaine Nicolas Rossignol

Born in 1974, Nicolas represents the fifth generation of his family in Volnay (a village which seems to be populated almost entirely by families with Rossignol somewhere in the name). He started to make the wines of his 'Rossignol-Jeanniard' family domaine when he was just twenty.

After studies at the Lycée viticole in Beaune, he worked with Joseph Voillot in Volnay, who became a mentor to him, for Louis Latour at their estate in the Ardèche, and for Vieux Télégraphe on Châteauneuf, where he loved the combination of richness and elegance in the wines, which influenced the style of wines he would later want to make himself. He also made wine in Boschendal in South Africa, and for Château la Cardonne in Bordeaux (then managed by the Lafite team).

In 1997, Nico started his own domaine with three hectares of vines inherited from an uncle. After a period in which some of the wines he made were labelled 'Domaine Rossignol-Jeanniard', and some 'Domaine Nicolas Rossignol', he began to buy the fruit from his (Rossignol-Jeanniard) family, and label these simply 'Nicolas Rossignol' (without the 'domaine'). Now the vines (all 16 hectares) are finally in the 'Domaine Nicolas Rossignol', and labelled as such. To handle this sizeable domaine, Nico needed a new winery. Having started with a chaotic assemblage of tanks in a building in the village of Volnay, he had moved to share Ben Leroux's winery on the Beaune ring road, but Nico had dreams of his own place and built his impressive new winery in 2016. A fantastic bespoke build, admittedly in a ZI (Zone Industrielle) on the outskirts of Beaune, which he recognises is not ideal for the 'folklore' aspect, it is a perfect tool for the job, and does have a good view of all 'his' bits of the Côte - from a sort of eyrie on the roof.

Like many Burgundy domaines, the appellations have proliferated as the surface area of the vineyard has increased with lots of little (and some quite large) parcels of vines in Aloxe ('village'), Savigny ('village' and two Premiers Crus), Beaune (three Premiers Crus), Pernand ('village' and one Premier Cru), Pommard (three 'village' wines and six Premiers Crus) and Volnay ('village' and seven Premiers Crus). With two cuvées of Bourgogne Rouge, this adds up to twenty-eight different wines. Like Burgundy more generally, the joy of tasting here is recognising the individual character of each plot, modulated by the conditions of the vintage, of course, but each with their own distinct personality

The viticulture of the domaine is inspired by biodynamics, but Nico is pragmatic, and although no weedkillers are used and the vineyards are maintained by ploughing, he says that there are both good and bad things in biodynamics, and he will use conventional fungicides to combat disease. At harvest time the grapes are picked into eight kilo boxes, and transported to the winery in them to minimise handling. They are then carefully sorted, before either being de-stemmed (but with the berries left intact) before being put in the fermentation vat, or put in directly as whole bunches. Nico uses varying proportions of whole bunch fermentation depending on the type of wine each vineyard gives, and of course on the health and 'ripeness' of the stems. A classic fermentation using the natural yeats on the grapes ensues, with punchdowns (pigeage) and pumpovers (remontage) used to extract flavour from the grapes, or to oxygenate the wine and refine its structure - the amount used judged by tastings throughout the process. After the vatting the free-run juice is separated from the pressed juice - the latter being blended back as required if necessary after tasting. The wine is put into barrel by gravity (with the amount of new wood between 0 and 50%), and aged for between ten and twenty months depending on the wine and the vintage, always on the lees without racking. The wood and the amount of heat used in making the barrels is also modulated for each wine. The malolactic fermentation is delayed for six months to increase aromatic complexity and structure to the wines. At the end of the ageing the wines are racked and blended in tank, before bottling without fining or filtration.

Nicolas makes deeply-coloured, flavourful wines. He is always keen to rubbish the generalisation that Pommard makes structured 'masculine' wines, as opposed to Volnay's supposedly 'feminine' ones, and proves his point with Pommards grown on clay and Volnays like his punchily structured 'Ronceret'. Each wine is very site-specific. Great winemaking here from a domaine that is really hitting its stride after many years of disappointing yields caused by hail and frost.

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