2019 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand


The 'Clos' is 5.23 hectares in one block. They pick and keep the grapes in a cold room overnight at 12C, before it gets to the vat. As usual tasted in the different lots. The youngest part was planted in 1986 and 1989 by Pascal Marchand. Lovely fresh fruit with lots of energy - lots of limestone here, deep dark fruit flavours. The second lot is 56-72 year old vines along the northern wall, and the wall, reflecting the heat, makes a difference to the maturity. Very dark fruit profile, thick silk texture and richer structure. The third lot is the oldest vines, and as Paul says, the most difficult to replant as there is only 30cm of earth above the limestone. He uses 25-30% new wood here. Very expressive, really lovely rich fruit weight, the most complete of all these individual parts. The approximation of the final blend is always a coup de théatre, a bit of magic or alchemy: the blend seems to have more volume than any of its components. There's lovely body and fruit, there's a rich sleek texture, and there's spice and structure and depth and length. ' there are more spicy notes in the blend, I think' says Paul. Drinking range: 2030 - 2050L&S (Oct 2020)

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75cl bottles (wood case of 6)

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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 80+ years of age; 30% new wood from yields of ~25 hl/ha). This too is aromatically moderately reduced and unreadable today. By contrast there is fine freshness and verve to the dense, powerful, and muscular larger-scaled flavors that coat the palate with sappy dry extract before concluding in a dusty, austere, and firm finale. The 2019 Clos is excellent though I underscore that it’s also quite serious, and as is usually the case, is going to require extending cellaring to arrive at its peak. Drinking range: 2034 - Rating: 92-94 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2021)

Cask sample. Mid crimson. Heady, strongly perfumed. A wine that's really quite difficult to spit for although it's awfully sweet, there's a heck of a lot going on. Layers and energy. Rich but not sickly. Really very powerful. I wonder how much alcohol there is here? Good balance between fruit and freshness with an undertow of rather bolder tannins than in most 2019 red burgundies. Drinking range: 2028 - 2048 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Jan 2021)

The 2019 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru was picked over three days starting with the young vines on 14 September. This is almost completely de-stemmed and matured in around 40% new oak. It has a very intense bouquet with black cherries, blueberry, crushed limestone, traces of violet and blood orange. The palate is very well balanced, quite opulent in style with a saline, briny note on the entry. Very good depth, fleshier in style than recent vintages with brown spices and cloves towards the persistent finish. I suspect that this might be more approachable than other vintages of Clos des Epeneaux but it will still age with style. Drinking range: 2024 - 2045 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Dec 2020)

With awesome depth and also amazing tenderness beneath the bonnet, this is a wonderful wine and a magical interpretation of the 2019 harvest. This is a barometer wine for the entire vintage and it might just be the finest red south of the town of Beaune! Rating: 19/20 Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Dec 2020)

As ever we tried the individual cuvées first before a trial blend – the actual assemblage will only happen a few weeks before bottling. The grapes were picked from 16th September at a yield of 24 hl/ha. Paul Zinetti has used 35% new oak, with less than 10% whole bunches included. The 2019 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux displays a rich deep purple colour. The bouquet is deeply expressive, suggesting an intensity of fruit more than super-ripeness. There is more red fruit than black though the two are present, correct acidity, tannins present, but waiting in the background, the alcohol is controlled, likely to finish around 14.3%. The whole stands up well in its firm, structured fashion. Early days yet, very promising. Tasted: December 2020 ***** Rating: 93-95 Jasper Morris - Inside Burgundy  (Dec 2020)

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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