POMMARD

2020 1er Cru Clos des Épeneaux Domaine Comte Armand

EN PRIMEUR

Instead of having 4 different wines to blend, to make the single Clos des Épeneaux, Paul had just 2 wines to create the perfect Cuvée. Not coming from the 4 different parcels within the Clos - Paul simply made one wine with the grapes from the old vines and one from the young vines and blended them together for their élevage in barrel. The result is a very impressive and complete wine. There is good weight and nice intensity of deep red fruit. The Clos is a warm site and 2020 was a warm year - so it is the well-measured power and richness that is a triumph here. Sophisticated spice and cedarwood too - but a fresh line is invigorating and keeps the whole thing pert and bright. Sophisticated stuff here.L&S (Nov 2021)

In Bond

Magnums (1.5l) (wood case of 3)

* 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 80+ years of age; 35% new wood with yields of ~22 hl/ha). Discreet but not invisible wood influence can be found on the ripe aromas of various dark berries, prominent earth and violet scents. Somewhat surprisingly in the context of the reported yields, the mid-palate is not especially dense though I very much like the beguiling texture that is at once caressing yet powerful before culminating in a precise, serious and equally austere if notably longer finale. This is an opulent and refined Clos des Epeneaux. Drinking range: 2030 - Rating: 91-94 Allen Meadows, www.Burghound.com (Apr 2022)

Spicy and exotic aromatics. Rich and dark, with plentiful matter and a licorice chew to the tannin. Thickly textured and robust on the palate, but it becomes more svelte and fresh on the finish, which has hints of star anise. Decent layering and depth, but it remains rather rugged for now. Not yet the more sophisticated Clos des Epeneaux with which we have become familiar from the winemaker Paul Zinetti. He will, however, age this for longer than usual. So, it is still early days. Drinking range: 2025 - 2035 Rating: 93-94 World of Fine Wine Magazine (Apr 2022)

The 2020 Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru was a blend of two instead of four cuvées this year due to the depleted production. It has a precocious bouquet with black cherries, raspberry, menthol and blood orange scents that gather momentum in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins, taut and fresh, lightly spiced with hints of allspice and tangy quince. It displays fine composure towards the finish with impressive length. This is a superb Clos des Epeneaux, though will it surpass the 2019? I’m not sure. Drinking range: 2026 - 2050 Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Dec 2021)

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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