2016 Volnay, Frémiets, 1er Cru, Comte Armand, Burgundy
About this WINE
Domaine Comte Armand
Owned by the family of the Comte Armand since 1825, Clos des Epeneaux is among Pommard’s most revered vineyards. Post-phylloxera, it wasn’t replanted until 1930. Further vineyards were acquired in ’94: Auxey-Duresses, Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru, Volnay and Volnay’s Frémiets.
The modern era effectively began with Pascal Marchand, who was succeeded as winemaker by Benjamin Leroux. When Ben left in 2014 to focus on his own business, Paul Zinetti took the reins.
The finest and most elegant red wines of the Côte de Beaune are grown in Volnay, a village which might be twinned with Chambolle- Musigny in the Côte de Nuits, for the high active chalk content in the soil and comparatively low clay content.Whereas in earlier times Volnay was made in a particularly light, early drinking style, these days there are many producers making wines which age extremely well. The best vineyards run either side of the RN73 trunk road.
- 98 hectares of village Volnay
- 115 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (35 in all). The finest include Les Taillepieds, Clos des Chênes, Champans, Caillerets (including Clos des 60 Ouvrées) and Santenots in Meursault.
- Recommended producers: Lafarge, Lafon, de Montille
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
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Vines planted in 1950 make up 40 percent of the blend and, as last year, there are only two barrels, and no new oak this year. Paul had to use 10 percent whole bunches to help fill the cuve , as it’s very hard to work with a half-full tank. The wine has a wonderful aroma of violets and wild rose, heady and intoxicating, but the vineyard’s proximity to Pommard peeps through on the finish, with iron-rich assertiveness. Drink 2021-2026.
Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy Buyer
The family of the Comte Armand has owned the vineyard of Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard since 1826. The vineyard wasn’t replanted post-phylloxera until 1930, but has since confirmed its rating as one of Pommard’s very finest sites. The modern era began under Pascal Marchand followed by Benjamin Leroux and, from 2014, Paul Zinetti, Benjamin’s second-in-command. Further vineyards were acquired in 1994: Auxey-Duresses, Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru, Volnay and Volnay Frémiets. The 2016 harvest is Paul Zinetti’s third after succeeding Ben Leroux, and a subtle but discernible change is under way. The Clos des Epeneaux’s famous dense, rich, tannic composition, so individual and impressive, is being gently moderated towards a wine that will be accessible a little earlier, while in no way undermining the ageability of one of Burgundy’s great terroirs. The firmest tannins are less evident after only gentle pumping-over and a very limited number of punch- downs. A new de-stemming machine is also delivering much better quality whole berries. This is a vintage which reveals a whole new, sunnier and accommodating aspect of the Clos’s character.
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