Wine tasting: Pommard and Volnay Premier Crus

I recently attended an outstanding tasting of mostly recent(ish) vintages of premier cru level Pommard and Volnay wines. The quality was universally high across the board, and all well stored examples. In terms of observations, interestingly, neither appellation proved particularly distinctive on this tasting. Pommard is typically thought of as sturdy, masculine and full in style, while its immediate neighbour Volnay, more fragrant, elegant and seductive. Yet, this tasting proved to be more or less a random walk as to which wine was which, with no one feature proving distinctive. I put this down to a function of proximity of the regions, youth, high quality wines and high quality winemaking. Some may lament this apparent convergence. But I don’t, at least when not doing Master of Wine study – I prefer tasting delicious wine more than tasting palatable theory. Perhaps the texts will require re-writing in a couple of decades?
My notes, plus a couple of extras from outside the region, follow.

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premier Cru Caillerets 2008
Les Caillerets is a 14.36 hectare vineyard that is among the most highly regarded in Volnay. And, right off the bat, it was my wine of the night. It opens to aromas of dark cherry, rosemary, anise and potpourri. The palate has towards high acidity (but not quite), great length – wonderful in fact – and a beguiling expression of cherries with some firmer tannins tucked away. Outstanding

Christophe Vaudoisey Volnay Premier Cru Les Mitans 2005
Les Mitans is a 3.98 hectare vineyard closer to the Pommard end of Volnay and is reputed for sturdier wines. The 2005 vintage tasted here, an outstanding vintage, proved to have brooding aromas of dark cherry and licorice notes with an almost porty richness giving away its vintage. The palate is full bodied and rich, with good length and acidity in balance. Delicious and another outstanding wine. Outstanding

Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru Les Frémiets 2005
Les Frémiets is a 7.40 hectare vineyard that is next to Pommard, making it particularly hard to identify as other than a Pommard. It’s another wine from the 2005 vintage, but presents quite differently to the Mitans. It has firm aromatics of cherry, iron and florals. The palate has great length, with notes of cherry and firmer tannins with time in the glass. Very Good

Comte Armand Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux 2013
A strong producer and one of Pommard’s great vineyards (the 5.23 hectare Clos des Epeneaux) cloaked any likelihood that the vintage of this wine would be identified. This proved an utterly delicious wine, and should age and improve effortlessly for a decade or more. It has aromas of dark cherry, blackcurrant and leaf. The palate has firm acidity, flavours of black fruits and spice, together with particularly long length. Too young, but someone has to try them. Outstanding

Henri Boillot Pommard Premier Cru Les Rugiens 2012
Les Rugiens is a 12.66 hectare vineyard (aggregating Hauts and Bas) and is both highly regarded and close to the Volnay border. This proved another outstanding wine, with aromas of dark cherries, earth, iron and rosemary. The palate has reminders of florals and great length. The tannins are just starting to evolve. Outstanding
And finally, a couple of extras, first my favourite Chablis Grand Cru (Les Preuses) and a ring-in from the Mornington Peninsula that almost shocked with its remarkable resemblance to the preceding wines.

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2010
This wine from Les Preuses (some considerably longer musings from the region are here) first had to escape its cool serving temperature. Initial aromas of qumquat and orange rind gave way with time to a more classic expression of lemon, stones and sea shells. The palate has good length, hints of cedar and fresh, if not overly firm, acidity. Very Good

Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir 2013
This is the first time I’ve tried a Main Ridge Estate wine, and I was frankly surprised (and absolutely delighted) at its close resemblance to a Pommard. It has aromas of blackcurrant and earth. The palate has long length and a cherry and earth character. This wine is unlike any other Mornington Peninsula pinot noir I’ve tried, and I’ve tried more than a few. Outstanding

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