Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru "Le Grand Clos des Épenots"
Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru "Le Grand Clos des Épenots"

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru "Le Grand Clos des Épenots"

Burgundy, France 2016 (750mL)
Regular price$160.00

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru "Le Grand Clos des Épenots"

2016 “Le Grand Clos des Épenots” This special parcel of Épenots is a monopole, meaning entirely owned by Domaine de Courcel, and the vines are an average of 60 years old. With a proper decant, it is bursting with red cherries, wild blueberries, stone fruits, blood orange, baking spices, and hints of dark chocolate. Richly textured, powerfully structured, and elegantly balanced, William Kelley of Wine Advocate calls the 2016 “an undeniable success,” and we couldn’t agree more!

Okay Red Burgundy lovers, start your engines! For the first time in recent memory (maybe ever?) we can offer not one, but two Premier Crus from the top terroirs in Pommard with seven years of bottle age and counting. And this is not a big négociant label or a small, never-been-imported-before estate: We are talking about Domaine de Courcel, one of the top two or three producers in Pommard, and among the best traditional estates for Pinot Noir in the Côte de Beaune. What’s more is that these are not just average Premier Crus, they are the top sites in Pommard and on everyone’s short list for elevation to Grand Cru status. Oh, and did we mention that we have the best pricing in the nation? Yup. World class, powerhouse Burgundy from a top vintage, domaine, and the best two terroirs for an incredible price: it’s a no brainer. Of course, both wines are very limited and you’ll want a bottle of each to try plus more for the cellar, so don’t wait to act!

The iconic French writer Victor Hugo is said to have compared the experience of drinking Pommard as “night in combat with day.” Indeed, wine drinkers’ love affair with the powerful, yet sensual, Pinot Noir this village produces goes back centuries. And for most of that history, the Courcel family has been at the forefront of estate-bottled wines. Today, Gilles de Courcel is at the helm along with his sisters, Anne Bommelaer and Marie de Courcel, who manage the estate. Perhaps the most important member of the team is Yves Confuron, the highly regarded vigneron at his family’s estate in Vosne-Romanée, Confuron-Cotetidot. Yves was hired back in 1996 as the chief enologist at Domaine de Courcel and has been instrumental in maintaining and even improving this estate’s position at the top of the Pommard pecking order.

Most mornings, Yves heads to Pommard from Vosne at 6 a.m. to get a jump-start in the Courcel cellars before returning to his own cellar in the afternoon. To say he is a tireless winemaker would be an understatement. His approach is staunchly old-school. He employs 100% whole cluster fermentation in barrels for all wines, including the top Premier Crus we have today. The Courcel cellar, like his own, is very cold, and that leads to slow, gentle fermentation and extraction. While most Burgundians age their wines in barrels for about a year before transfer to steel tanks, Yves insists on two full years in barrels, no more than a third of which are new, and another two years resting in bottle before the wines are released. He’s also a staunch proponent of organic farming and has introduced some of these practices at Courcel (his own estate is certified). Making wine in this style takes a lot of patience; in order to use whole clusters correctly you have to wait until the stems are fully mature, which means harvesting later. It’s risky, especially given climate change, but Yves insists that when done right, this is the best method to ensure perfectly balanced, terroir-true Burgundy.

In 2016, the risk of waiting definitely paid off, but it was a very challenging vintage. In Yves' own words, it was the “growing season from hell.” Frost, mildew, and storms all ravaged the vines in Pommard until around mid July when the weather finally took a turn in the right direction. They harvested a very small but excellent crop in early October. The clusters from “Les Rugiens” and “Épenots” were plump and pristine. The SommSelect team was thrilled to try both wines a few weeks back. We had high expectations and they were still exceeded! These bottles represent the apogee of Pommard, with loads of rich, sensuous red and blue fruits, chewy tannins, and savory spices. These are robust Pinots, among the most powerful Premier Crus, but you can already enjoy them with a good one- to two-hour decant. Serve them at 60-65 degrees in the best Burgundy stems you have with any of your favorite grilled meats or hearty roasts—of course, a classic boeuf en croûte would be a true showstopper. I recommend grabbing three of each, one to try in the next few months and the others for the cellar. These bottles will really start hitting their stride in the next three to five years, but have the capacity to age for 20 to 30 more. Don’t miss out on this exceptional opportunity—they’re limited, so act fast!

Domaine de Courcel, Pommard 1er Cru "Le Grand Clos des Épenots"

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