2009 Comte Armand - Stars Align: Vintage, Terroir, Winemaker

Posted by CrushWine

2009 Comte Armand
Pommard 1er Clos des Epeneaux,
Volnay 1er Frémiets, Auxey-Duresses 1er, Volnay
Pommard of Finesse and an All-Star Supporting Cast

Allen Meadows has called Benjamin Leroux, winemaker at Comte Armand, "one of, if not the, most gifted winemaker in all of Burgundy."

It's immense praise on its own.

And it clicks into even sharper focus when you consider the primary portfolio he’s worked with for the majority of his career. Leroux took over winemaking at Comte Armand in Pommard when he was just 24; he's held court here for just over a decade now and has garnered his rock star reputation particularly with the estate's outstanding monopole Clos des Epeneaux.

Pommard might not be the first place you'd expect to find "one of the most gifted winemakers in all of Burgundy." There are no Grand Crus; and the wines are bold, masculine, stomping around in big boots. It might be "easier" to make extraordinarily noteworthy wines in a place like Vosne, or Chambolle, or Gevrey.

But Leroux, following in the footsteps of Comte Armand's previous whiz-kid winemaker Pascal Marchand (who began at Comte Armand when he was 22), has made it look practically effortless to craft Pommards of characteristic size and weight yet also Pommards with a wildly impressive element of finely woven fruit with earth and game… Pommards of finesse.

2009, naturally, is an incredible vintage for exactly this style of wine. And, as you may have seen coming, the 2009s from Ben Leroux at Comte Armand are stunning. The wines on offer today - 09 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Clos des Epeneaux, Volnay 1er Frémiets, Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru and Volnay - all share in the exuberant, saturating, ripe, deep fruit character of the 2009s… but they also each have a strong sense of tension, and therefore of intensity, aligned with distinct terroir character.

Today we offer each wine at among the lowest pricing in the nation.

The Clos des Epeneaux (a monopole of Comte Armand, one of Pommard’s elite 1er Crus and, in hands like Leroux's, really one of Burgundy’s best wines) is an obvious buy here, and in this great vintage where prices are up across the board, the value for such an impressive - such a cellar-worthy - Clos des Epeneaux remains considerable here. Clos des Epeneaux, just for a little context, are renowned for their longevity - search for the Burghound's tasting note on the 1864 if you want proof.

The Volnay 1er Frémiets is "a classic Frémiets of finesse and minerality," as the Burghound succinctly and poignantly states. Frémiets is probably the most Pommard-ian site of Volnay, with a masculinity and ageworthy structure, all wrapped in the sort of sexy finesse of Volnay. I love how Leroux is able to manage the vintage signature here to let the site speak first and foremost.

The same deft touch is on display in the village Volnay, which, for my money, is an obvious do-not-miss. It shows off all the allure of 09, ripe and just delicious right now, yet also somehow lacy, elegant and fine-boned - classic Volnay. It should drink well for the next five years with absolutely no slowing down.

Finally, the Auxey-Duresses has to be one of the best examples of Pinot to ever come out of this quiet little commune tucked behind Meursault. This is seriously complex and decidedly more finely polished for what's normally a fairly rustic wine. The 09 vintage's ripeness and concentration really helped bring sites like this up a level. The Burghound says, and I very much agree, this is "concentrated and seductively rich" - and definitely "worth considering for the value." (Burghound's full tasting notes for all the wines are below.)

As a final note, a personal observation: Leroux has, in the last few years, begun his own small négociant company, making fantastic wines from sites he loves up and down the Côte. It strikes one as, perhaps, a fair amount of work to be running two portfolios (which is not to say in any way that quality has diminished in either; it's actually quite the opposite). But, well, the tradition at Comte Armand has seemed to be for young, talented winemakers to make their name, and then pass the torch. One has to wonder if, and for how much longer, Leroux will keep on here. Personally, I'm stocking up today on this vintage where quality is so very, very high and the prices for the results of such astute winemaking are so comparatively low.

Please note that quantities are limited, and preference will go to balanced orders. Give us your maximum, ideal request, and we'll do our best.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

2009 Comte Armand

Click here to see the 2009 Comte Armand Lineup.

Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux
Burghound: "This is also very fresh and bright with pure aromas of ripe red currant, warm earth, violets and subtle spice hints that are in keeping with the energetic, intense and admirably rich full-bodied flavors that envelope the palate with velvety sap on the beautifully balanced and impressively persistent finish. I very much like the sense of underlying tension because despite this being a big wine with plenty of concentration, the balance is impeccable and there is absolutely nothing ponderous about this complete effort that is well-structured but not so much so that it is in the "buy and forget" category. In short, buy it."

Volnay 1er Cru Frémiets
Burghound: "Cool and very fresh aromas of red berry, stone and floral hints give way to vibrant, intense, detailed and mildly austere middle weight flavors that are shaped by phenolically ripe and quite fine tannins. The length is impressive and this is a classic Frémiets of finesse and minerality."

Burghound: "An elegant and ripe yet airy nose of red pinot and plum aromas liberally laced with earth notes leads to fine and lacy middle weight flavors that exude a discreet minerality on the persistent finish. This is a fine villages crafted in the classic image of Volnay."

Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru
Burghound: "A completely different nose of pungent earth and ripe dark berry fruit aromas that are in keeping with the serious, concentrated and seductively rich medium-bodied flavors that possess plenty of tannin-buffering extract, all wrapped in a long, focused and complex finish. This is really quite good for what it is and is actually less rustic than it typically is, probably because the phenolic ripeness of the tannins is so high. Worth considering for value."