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INTRODUCTION

Domaine du Comte Armand had a line-up of prestigious winemakers in its history, to farm its Clos des Épeneaux,a walled premier cru monopole in Pommard of 5.3ha.

I met with Paul Zinetti, the winemaker and estate manager of Domaine du Comte Armand, in April during my visit to Burgundy. He was just back from a week in the US, promoting the wines, after the hiatus imposed by Covid.
Paul is a friendly person, making yourself at ease in less than 30 seconds. He also plays the game of visits and tastings, because he knows how important this is for us. I was one of his 4 visits of the day. It was a fun tasting session.

We tasted the wines in the cellar, directly from barrels. The underground vaulted cellar was rather empty because of a small 2020 harvest and a minute 2021. The laments were brushed away rapidly and we focused on the real matter, the 2020s.

Beside the summer heat and just enough water, Paul commented that the vintage was not too difficult. The team of permanent vineyard workers and him, helped the vines at critical time, with plant-based treatment and canopy management. But the health and vigour of a biodynamically trained vineyard is ‘bearing its fruits’ in such a millésime. Paul only insisted on not knowing at the moment, when he would bottled the wine. He believes they are built to benefit of extended ageing in barrel, which does not mean they will be oaky. After tasting the whole range, this is clear these wines are terrific and will do well young and old! Get them in your collection!

Thibaut Mathieu
Managing Director Asia, June 2022

THE DOMAINE

Domaine Comte Armand, also known as Domaine des Epeneaux, is located in Pommard (Côte-d'Or). It has nine hectares of vines, of which the most important part is a magnificent five hectare monopole of Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux, planted 100% to Pinot Noir. The domaine takes its name from this plot, which is one of the largest monopoles in Burgundy. The vineyard is enclosed by a stone wall and sits across two lieux dits, Les Petits Epenots and Les Grands Epenots, both premier cru plots.

This vineyard was acquired by Nicolas Marey in 1850 and throughout its history the domaine has had several talented winemakers. Pascal Marchand, of today’s Domaine Marchand Tawse, ran the estate from 1985 to 1998. The mantle passed to Benjamin Leroux from 1999 until 2014, when he left to make his own wines. Paul Zinetti has worked at the estate since 2010, taking over the reins after Leroux’s departure.

Since joining, Paul has spent time, refining the mapping of the plots in the Clos. The monople is now divided by type of soil and age of vines. 3 wines are vinified separately and blended in the end, to make the cuvée Clos des Epeneaux. His second task was simply to let the wine shine. From what I understand from our discussion, he strives to give space to the expression of terroir. He makes all the wines the same way, in order to let the land do the talking and not the winemaker. He has also a lightness of touch, allowing the purity and inner power of the wine to emerge.

VITICULTURE AND WINEMAKING

The domaine is certified organic by Ecocert and is run biodynamically. No chemicals or pesticides are used, only plant-based treatments, in the form of teas and decoctions (nettles, dandelion, horsetail for instance). The soil is ploughed and the vines are worked the same way. In the course of the year, up to 60 people work at the domaine, with a large part at harvest time. So much manual labor as opposed to usage of chemicals is to preserve the microbiological life of the vineyard and train the vines to fight for themselves.

Ornamental and medicinal plants have been introduced in the plots, to encourage biodiversity. The vines are 50 years old on average, with some plots in the Clos des Epeneaux being 90+ years old. There is a high density of planting, up to 12,000 vines per hectare in the Clos.

Similar to the vineyard management, the winemaking process follows the lunar cycle. Vinification takes four weeks. The grapes are fully destemmed when arriving at the cellar but are kept intact.

THE WINES

vineyards

WHITES

BOURGOGNE ALIGOTE 2020

This cuvée comes from 3 plots, in Volnay, Pommard and Meursault. Aged vines from what I remember and Paul is planning on uprooting a part. All the grapes are blended at harvest and pressed altogether. Half of the harvest is aged in 600L wood casks and the other half goes to age in stainless steel vats.


There is a lot of energy and freshness in this wine. Citrus aromas dominate, followed by exotic fruits (lychee) and orchard fruit. A touch of sweetness in the end makes you want to drink a second glass. A slight over ripeness gives this wine a touch of gourmandise and suavity. Perfect for pre-dinner drinks.

Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2023 - 2026


£130 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

REDS

AUXEY-DURESSES ROUGE 2020

Coming from one small plot (48 ares) in lieu-dit Les Argillas, it is a small cuvee of 2,000+ bottles. Lively and fragrant Pinot Noir, this is how I describe this wine. It is red fruit driven, with crunchy cranberry notes. The tannins are soft, integrated even if the palate is slightly grippy. This is more a character given by the high limestone and clay component of the parcel. Enticing wine that I see myself drinking on a platter of cold cuts.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2023 - 2028


£195 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

AUXEY-DURESSES 1ER CRU ROUGE 2020

The wine comes from 2 plots; Les Bretrains and les Bas des Duresses. The grapes are blended at harvest time. It has a marked finesse and complexity when compared to the village wine. The high content of rock in the subsoil transpires in the tension and salinity of the palate. I asked Paul if he has ever considered doing 2 cuvees. He prefers the blend because each plot brings a component. The soil in Les Bretrains in shallow, rocky, with little clay content. It contributes to the nervosity of the wine and its finesse. Le Bas des Duresses soil is deep, rich, from erosion of the upper part. It contributes to the backbone and the flesh of the wine.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5+
Recommended drinking from 2023 - 2030


£315 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

VOLNAY 2020

Deep ruby colour and dark fruit aromas. The wine is elegant, lush and lively. There is precision in the flavours, the tannins, the texture. A floral note adds elegance to a balanced wine with an underlining freshness. Ripe fruits dominate the palate. This is drinking well now but will be even better with a couple of years in bottle.

Corney & Barrow Score 17 - 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2024 - 2030


£285 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

VOLNAY LES FREMIETS 1ER CRU 2020

At 14.5% ABV, this is ripe and rich, yet you don’t feel any heat in the wine. The vineyard of Les Fremiets is near Pommard, on the northern side of the village, lower on the slope. There is as well a climat Les Fremiers in Pommard. The soil has a high content of rock and lime, producing wines ethereal, lifted and balanced. Floral notes add elegance to a palate of red fruit. This 1er cru is too often overlooked in Volnay, in my opinion. The wines are approachable earlier than the ones from the upper part of the village (like the Clos des Ducs) or from the southern part of the appellation (like Champans, Caillerets). And this is not choosing the 2nd best.

Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 - 18+
Recommended drinking from 2024 - 2030+


£525 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

POMMARD CLOS DES EPENEAUX MONOPOLE 1ER CRU 2020

At 14.5% ABV, this is ripe and rich, yet you don’t feel any heat in the wine. The vineyard of Les Fremiets is near Pommard, on the northern side of the village, lower on the slope. There is as well a climat Les Fremiers in Pommard. The soil has a high content of rock and lime, producing wines ethereal, lifted and balanced. Floral notes add elegance to a palate of red fruit. This 1er cru is too often overlooked in Volnay, in my opinion. The wines are approachable earlier than the ones from the upper part of the village (like the Clos des Ducs) or from the southern part of the appellation (like Champans, Caillerets). And this is not choosing the 2nd best.

Corney & Barrow Score 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2025 - 2035+


£795 / CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK

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