Pommard wine appellations
Pommard is a wine appellation on the outskirts of the pretty town of Beaune in the Burgundy region of France. This is central Burgundy, it is south of Dijon which marks the end of the famous Cotes du Nuits appellations and just to the south west of Beaune.
You reach this appellation on the D973 driving south west out of Beaune where there are two very important appellations quite close by, namely Pommard and Volnay.
It is a red wine only appellation and was first established by decree in September 1936. Pinot Noir is the main grape variety used here but the red wines can be supplemented with small quantities of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. The secondary grapes cannot exceed 15% of the plantings.
The vines are typically, for Burgundy, close planted with a minimum requirement of 9000 vines per hectare. (To put this in perspective many appellations in the Loire specify 4500 or 5000 vines per hectare.)
It is an interesting appellation because unlike others that are nearby, the best wines are not produced from areas with greater elevation. In fact, the slopes on the lower side of the village produce some of the most sought after wines.
The appellation extends through some 318 hectares in the commune of Pommard but there are some 28 named places (climats) that can be used on the wine label to identify the particular area within the commune where the grapes are grown. Thus the label can have 'Pommard premier cru <named place> where the 28 allowable names are: La Chanière, Les Charmots, La Platière, Les Arvelets, Les Saussilles, Les Pézerolles, En Largillière, Les Grands Epenots, Clos des Epeneaux, Les Petits Epenots, Les Boucherottes, Le Clos Micot, Les Combes Dessus, Clos de Verger, Clos de la Commaraine, La Refène, Clos Blanc, Le Village, Derrière Saint-Jean, Les Rugiens Bas, Les Chaponnières, Les Croix Noires, Les Poutures, Les Bertins, Les Fremiers, Les Jarolières, Les Rugiens Hauts and Les Chanlins-Bas.
Most experts agree that the wines of Pommard are quite distinctive. In the book Côte d'Or: a celebration of the great wines of Burgundy by Clive Coates attributes the strength of the Pommard wines as follows:
"The percentage of active limestone is high, and it is the reaction between this and the clays, of which Pommard also has more than Volnay and Beaune, which produces the typical fullness and sturdiness which is the Pommard character."
There are no grand cru vineyards in Pommard although Coates believes that some small areas could qualify for elevated status:
"If we were contemplating a change in the hierarchy today I would nominate for elevation part - but part only - of two of the premier crus: Les Rugiens-Bas and the central part of Les Epenots (the Clos des Epeneaux but neither all Les Grands-Epenots nor all Les Petits-Epenots)."
There are many good producers in Pommard, but we have selected three who are dedicated to organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Philippe Pacalet is one of the emerging stars of Burgundy. He trained under such luminaries as Jules Chauvet (one of the philosophers of the natural wine movement) and Marcel Lapierre who produces ethereal Beaujolais wines.
His wines are produced using natural methods both in the vineyard where he farms organically and in the winery where he ferments using natural yeasts and bottles using gravity and old-fashioned corking equipment.
His Pommard is a lively expression of the best that this appellation has to offer. It is certainly one of our favourite wines of the area.
Domaine Fanny Sabre
Fanny Sabre is another emerging winemaker to watch. She is only in her mid-twenties but she learned winemaking from Philippe Pacalet when he made the Sabre family wines. She also practices biodynamic viticulture and natural winemaking.
Fanny Sabre has five different plots of vines in Pommard and she blends these into a single Pommard wine of considerable power and elegance.
Domaine des Epeneaux
Also known more widely as Comte Armand this famous domaine has control of the Clos des Epeneaux, one of the most sought after pieces of land in the Pommard appellation.
The winemaking is the responsibility of another very young winemaker Benjamin Le Roux who tends the 5.3 hectares of the clos (walled vineyard) that is entirely owned by Comte Armand (hence it is a monopole).