Although 70% down on a normal harvest, quality has remained intact and shows the vineyard at its highest level. A blend of young vines (well, if you can call 35 year old vines young) and old vines, plus a small balance of press wine make this a complex and nuanced blend of the estate’s monopole 5.23 hectare vineyard. 25-30% new oak is supported by excellent fruit concentration and deep substance. It is at once powerful and supple, with an intensity of red fruit and dark spice.
A background whiff of wood easily allows the earthy yet quite pretty aromas of plum, violet, dark cherry and soft spice nuances to shine. The mouth feel of the slightly bigger and richer flavors is also admirably sleek while delivering excellent length on the mouth coating and well-balanced finish. This is perhaps a bit less structured than is usually the case as it should be reasonably approachable young if that's your preference. Sweet spot Outstanding. Drink 2028+
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. Drink 2020-2040
The Clos des Epeneaux is again very successful this year, and after two decades of oaky, over-extracted wines from this address, it's a real pleasure to see the inherent elegance of this great terroir beginning to shine forth, unobscured by obtrusive winemaking. Aromas of wild berries, dried rose petal, rich soil, orange rind and summer truffle precede a full-bodied wine with a chassis of fine-grained tannins, a generous core of sweet fruit and a sapid, penetrating finish. Drink 2026-2045
Sample from the younger vines (45% of the blend; vinified with 15% whole clusters): Good dark red. Slightly medicinal aromas of red cherry and licorice. Surprisingly dry and backward, with its cherry fruit complicated by pungent licorice and herb notes. Finishes rather suave if a bit tart, with lingering notes of bitter cherry and herbs. Sample from the old vines (45% of the blend; from vines 67 to 93 years of age): Bright, dark red. Distinctly darker and riper on the nose than the younger vines, offering aromas of blueberry, black raspberry and spices. A step up in volume as well, with its dark raspberry and licorice flavors complicated by a licorice note. Very firmly structured wine with a longer, more tactile finish. From the press wine (to comprise about 10% of the blend): Softer, fatter and slightly saline. Finishes a bit tart but this juice should fill in the middle of the blend. An approximation of the final blend: Healthy dark red. Slight medicinal cast to the aromas of cherry, redcurrant and menthol. By far the best and most complete of these samples, offering serious low-yield richness but also terrific definition and energy. This sample somehow displayed captivating violet and mineral notes that were not apparent in any of its components. Lovely depth and restrained sweetness here. Finishes taut and long, with saline and herbal nuances and terrific underlying structure. This reminded me of a 2010; interestingly, last year Zinetti described his young '15 as like a denser version of 2010.
Clos des Épeneaux is Pommard’s most celebrated climat. The 5.23 hectare monopole has been in the Comte Armand family since 1828. Paul Zinetti took over from Benjamin Leroux as régisseur in 2014, and is rising to every challenge at this small, characterful domaine. They also have small holdings in Volnay and Auxey Duresses and, while these wines have the distinctive character of quintessential Côte de Beaune, they are also some of the most sophisticated, nuanced expressions you might taste across these villages. An understated use of new oak matches the textured fruit, and gentle handling in combination with intuitive biodynamic practices afford these wines both strength and delicacy. The domaine has begun to noticeably outpace its neighbours and redefine how the finest terroir of Pommard is capable of not only power but elegance as well.
A long popular appellation, Pommard is yet another exclusive red wine area which produces by far the most structured reds of the Côte de Beaune. It extracts rich body and long ageing potential from the limestone/iron-rich clay soil. Some examples can be markedly rustic, yet as time has passed and winemaking know-how has improved, Pommard's wines are becoming softer and more approachable when young. Its vines cover 317 hectares of which over a third are premier cru vineyards. Several have pronounced following and even one, Les Rugiens, is being pushed to become a grand cru.