2017 1er Cru Fremiets Domaine Comte Armand


A seriously inviting nose a richness to the fruit. a lovely powerful ripe core. After the Auxey this feels almost broad and sweepingly ripe and juicy. Loaded with rich red berries and warm strawberry flesh. Kept in check by a good, suedey underside. Overla this feels like it will be drinking from the get go. nusually with this Volnay they have done somne some pigeage, Paul is not big in to it - but he felt this wine needed a touch of extraction and intensity. The fruit comes form 2 plots. One is made up of 90 year old vines - the other is 33 years old. After 2016 he was considering pulling out the old vines. But he is really happy with them in 2017. 25% New wood here. 10% Whole Bunch. Drinking range: 2020 - 2025L&S (Nov 2018)

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(from yields of ~45 hl/ha). This is deftly wooded with an appealingly fresh nose that consists mostly of various red berry and herbal tea elements along with a pretty spice whiff. The lighter weight (though not dilute) flavors possess a lilting mouthfeel while delivering sneaky good length on the firm, youthfully austere and balanced finish. This very classy effort is lighter than it usually is, but the balance saves the overall sense of quality. Drinking range: 2025 - Rating: 91 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2020)

The 2017 Volnay Les Frémiets 1er Cru has an elegant bouquet of pure wild strawberry, cranberry, rose petal and crushed stone aromas, beautifully defined and focused. The palate, like the nose, reminds more of the elegance of Marquis d’Angerville (visited prior to my visit at Comte Armand). The very pure, succulent finish features a judicious touch of spice. There is just a bit of new oak (30%) to be subsumed, so give it a couple of years. Drinking range: 2021 - 2040 Rating: 93 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Jan 2020)

(from yields of ~45 hl/ha). This is also deftly wooded with an appealingly fresh nose that consists mostly of various red berry elements along with a pretty spice whiff. The lighter weight (though not dilute) flavors possess a lilting mouth feel while delivering sneaky good length on the firm, youthfully austere and balanced finish. This is lighter than it usually is but the balance saves the overall sense of quality. Drinking range: 2027 - Rating: 88-91 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2019)

More mineral and restrained than the village Volnay. Really very beguiling with its combination of ripeness and freshness. Very satisfying. Nice mineral note on the end. Drinking range: 2023 - 2032 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Jan 2019)

Volnay, 1er Cru Fremiets is flashy and seductive and this vintage suits the shape of this wine perfectly. Not as wild nor as tannic as the Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux. Rating: 17.5+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Jan 2019)

The 2017 Volnay Les Frémiets 1er Cru comes from a single parcel including a plot of 92-year-old vines that was on the cusp of being pulled up after the 2016 frost. It has a lovely, expressive, transparent bouquet of brambly red fruit, sous-bois and rose petal scents. The elegant, pure palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and raspberry and red plum notes, the 8% whole bunches lending a little je ne sais quoi toward the precise finish. Beautiful. Drinking range: 2020 - 2035 Rating: 91-93 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 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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