This wine needs little introduction. Much like Gevrey’s Clos St. Jacques, Nuits’ Les St. Georges or Chambolle’s Amoureuses, Pommard’s Clos des Epeneaux is a cru above, a blessed site that most Burgund-o-philes recognize as a Grand Cru in all but name. Clos des Epeneaux, however, is also a monopole of Domaine Comte Armand, which means that the unique terroir here has only one lens onto its ample gifts. Thankfully, Comte Armand has always been one of the most reliably exceptional Domaines in Burgundy for the past quarter century.
After a pair of very talented winemakers - first, Pascal Marchand, then Benjamin Leroux - today Paul Zinetti has taken over the reins and seems to have not skipped a beat. Over the years, the wine has become more refined and elegant than in Pascal’s day, when the heroic fruit was at the core of the wine. Nonetheless, Clos des Epeneaux has always resided at the apogee of Pommard, and among the small handful of truly elite red wines on the Côte de Beaune.
So, what makes the Clos so special?
Comprised of 5.2 hectares, the Clos des Epeneaux has remained under single ownership within the same family since 1756. During the 18th century, the Marey-Monge family purchased all 30+ hA of Epenots. Shortly thereafter, they created the Clos which exists today, walling in 4.6 hA in Les Grands Epenots and .6 hA in Les Petits Epenots. What is fascinating about this work that was undertaken is that the walls of the Clos follow fault lines, and that the soil on either side of the wall is actually geologically distinctive from one another.
Like much of Pommard, the soil in the Clos is ferruginous marl, with a a subsoil of chalk-limestone. Upslope, the soils are thinner and rockier, with a depth of only 20-30cm, whereas as you move downslope, the depths can reach up to 70-80 cm. The wall of the Clos plays an interesting role in mitigating the effect of strong winds, while the vineyard's eastern facing aspect captures plenty of the morning sun. In addition to limestone scree throughout the vineyard that aids in drainage, there is an underground stream that supposedly explains the unique spelling of “Epenots” as “Epeneaux," in honor, as it were, of the "waters"/-eaux.
I have had many great bottles of Clos des Epeneaux - young and old. This really is one of Burgundy’s greatest expressions.
2016 Pommard 1er "Clos des Epeneaux” Monopole
Neal Martin: The 2016 Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux contains 10% whole-bunch fruit. I tasted from two cuvées, one from the young vines and one from the old. The young vines has clean and pure black cherry, red plum and lightly blueberry fruit that conveys a sense of energy. The palate is well balanced with succulent ripe black fruit, very fine tannin, a taut line of acidity but real complexity and tension from start to finish. I love the harmony and effortlessness of these younger vines. The cuvée from older vines demonstrated more black fruit with traces of undergrowth, a little more rondeur with impressive depth and structure on the persistent, marine/oyster shell-tinged finish. This has enormous potential and may challenge the supremacy of the 2015. 93-95 pts.
2015 Pommard 1er "Clos des Epeneaux” Monopole
Neal Martin: The 2015 Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epenaux was tasted from barrel as a mixture of the old and younger vines. Cropped at 15 hectoliters per hectare, because of the hail, it matured in a maximum of 30% new oak. There was less pigeage this year as the wine does not usually need a big extraction, with just two punch downs. It was kept in tank for one week at 32 degrees Celsius before transferring into barrel. It has a very refined, quite powerful bouquet that manages to retain superb delineation and focus. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, hints of brown spice infusing the red berry fruit, black truffle and sage. This is a sophisticated Clos des Epenaux, clearly less extracted in the past, with a long tail on the aftertaste. This is a sublime expression of one of the best Côte de Beaune terroirs and an affirmation of Paul Zinetti as a talented winemaker worthy of following in Benjamin Leroux's footsteps. 94-96 pts.