The family of the Comte Armand has owned the vineyard of Clos des Epéneaux and the winery buildings in Pommard since 1826 when Jean-François Armand married Clothilde Marey. Unfortunately the vineyard was not replanted after phylloxera until 1930, but since then it has confirmed its rating as one of Pommard’s very finest sites.
Pascal Marchand, a young Quebecois from the merchant marine, made the wines here from the 1985 to 1998 vintages inclusive. During his time in charge he completely transformed the domaine, elevating its ranking to that of the greatest estate in Pommard. His place has been taken by Benjamin Leroux who had been working part time at the domaine during his studies since 1991.
Benjamin Leroux, still in his thirties and newly married to an English girl from Silverstone, has been in charge at Comte Armand since 1999. He is one of Burgundy's most vociferous advocates of bio-dynamic viticulture (with a particular interest in lunar cycles) and his No 1 spot in Bourgogne Aujourd'hui magazine's Top 10 for the next decade came as no surprise. After years of organic farming, with certification since 2005, the domaine is now biodynamic. The Clos des Epeneaux is being worked by horses (in part so as to be able to compare horse against tractor; the soil has become much finer in the horse-ploughed sector), while various fruit trees, roses and other plants have been introduced along the walls. A colony of bees was to follow, but they did not survive the intense heat of the summer of 2003.
Where possible the grapes are picked on suitable days in the biodynamic calendar and each cuvée is thereafter maintained on a 28-day cycle – thus 28 days cuvaison (one week cold maceration, one week fermentation, two weeks post-fermentation maceration), with racking and other treatments following in multiples of 28 days. Benjamin notes that after three weeks in vat, the tannins often become tough and disagreeable but it is important not to panic. By the end of four weeks the wine has come back into balance and seems to show enhanced terroir character in place of primary fruit.
After many years when the Clos des Epeneaux was the sole wine made at the domaine, further vineyards were acquired in 1994: Auxey-Duresses, Auxey-Duresses premier cru, Volnay and Volnay Fremiets. The younger vines from the Clos des Epeneaux are also sold as Pommard or Pommard premier cru.
Actual bottle from our inventory is pictured. These bottles are in excellent condition, from their original case and all fills are into the neck. All bottles are as good or better than the bottle pictured. To see other wines currently available from this producer, please click the link with the name of this producer underlined above, just to the right of "Producer."
April 1, 200789-92 Despite the fairly heavy reduction it's obvious that the underlying fruit is quite ripe and leads to rich, full and admirably powerful flavors that possess real volume and underpinned by notably ripe tannins on the fresh, intense and well-muscled finish. This is an impressive effort for what it is with excellent depth. Definitely worth a look.
April 200789-91 A blend of one-third Les Duresses and two-thirds les Breterins, the Comte Armand 2005 Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru (from vines up to 80 years old) offers vivid aromas and flavors of black currant with a pleasantly bitter hint of fruit skin, impressive palate density and a juicy fresh cassis and bitter black chocolate finish. At over 14% alcohol and with an almost freakishly low pH (neither of which is directly noticeable) this looks on paper more like a Zinfandel or Barbera, but it is a formidable and fascinating Pinot I would bet on for 3-5 years of cellaring. Young Benjamin Leroux took over in 1999 from Pascal Marchand (who made this estate’s modern reputation), and the wines have never tasted better, nor more ageworthy. The domaine has also continued to grow – through purchase and rental – beyond their famous 13 acre core property, the Clos des Epeneaux. The wines had never been racked when I tasted them – that will only happen when they are assembled for bottling (unfiltered) – so allowance must be made for slight reduction.