2012 Auxey Duresses 1er Cru Comte Armand

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Average critic rating : 90.0 points



The 2012 Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru is more mild-mannered on the nose. It has fine delineation and poise with lifted dark cherry and blueberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of spice on the entry. This has quite a masculine, tannic personality but there is a lovely saline-tinged blackberry finish that lingers nicely in the mouth. This will probably require one or two years in bottle. ||Domaine Comte Armand lies in the heart of Pomerol opposite the village square, where high above and unnoticed, the Virgin Mary perches high on the church, a protective matriarch to the vignerons below. The winery surrounds a modest almost innocuous courtyard, although the only sign of life when I entered was a longhaired feline holding court on the upper veranda. Since 1999, Benjamin Leroux has overseen the small portfolio of wines from this historical estate that traces its roots back to the illustrious Marey-Monge family in the 19th century. As I reported in a vertical of their crown jewel monopole Clos des Epeneaux (see Issue 208), he has instilled a greater sense of elegance and sophistication. Still, Benjamin could do nothing about the severe hailstorm that damaged vast swathes of Comte Armand’s vines. “Look at this,” he remarked in the bijou cellar accommodating three or four dozen barrels. “This is everything we produced in 2012 and 2013.” Yet in typical fashion, Benjamin remains sanguine, accepting of the situation, sagely commenting: “It is part of life. You have to accept it. You cannot have it your way all the time.” So like many others he had to ration his cuvees. For example, whereas he usually de-selects younger vines i.e. under 25-years of age from the final blend of Clos des Epeneaux, this year they were included and Benjamin suggested that they might be henceforth. And what he has produced is worth trying to find, hard as that will inevitably be. The important factor here was firstly, the high skin to juice ratio that was around 50/50 that yielded deeply colored, tannic wines, and secondly the absence of rot during the harvest. In fact, the clean sanitary condition that prevailed was in no small part down to the hail damage inflicted when the fruit was nascent and green. Instead of their skins tearing and spilling juice that attracted rot, the damaged berries simply fell to the ground. Perversely, it actually enhanced sanitary conditions by allowing air movement between the more loose clusters. All these wines were taken directly from one-year-old barrels in which all the wines are being aged, so there is no new oak in 2012. These were another set of pure, energetic, precise wines from Comte Armand that has thrived under Benjamin’s direction. Readers should also check out his own range of negociant wines also reviewed in this report. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013

Currently, the Domaine des Epeneaux - so called after the nearby Clos - covers 7.5 hectares. There is great respect for the vineyard and emphasis on allowing the terroir to express itself. Pre-fermentation maceration takes place over 5 to 8 days at a temperature of 13-14°C. Spontaneous fermentation takes place across 5 to 10 days. Finally post fermentation maceration takes place over about 3 to 15 days. Wines spend 18 to 24 months in barrel, from no new wood for the villages wines to 80% for Vieilles Vignes" in Clos des Epeneaux. Le Pommard 1er cru Clos des Epeneaux is made exclusively from vines older than 25 years. The second wine, bottled under the appellation "Pommard Village" is from younger vines, the amount varies on the vintage, with between 10 and 20% of Clos des Epeneaux ensuring the high quality.

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