As our intense week of tasting at the Grand Jours de Bourgogne was nearing its end, Friday’s finale was a positively powerful event filled with some of the most structured Pinot Noirs anywhere on earth. We were to experience Pommard in all her glory as we made our way through hundreds of samples spanning every vineyard known, north to south, and in the heart of the appellation. As we entered the Chateau de Pommard, glasses in hand, our final formal event of the tour held promises of surprises to come.
The wines of Pommard, as holds true for the balance of Burgundy, offer the taster varying degrees of flavor as well as aromatic profiles depending upon vineyard location. Pommard’s southern reaches – to include Rugiens, Chaponnieres, Fremiers, and Jarolieres – produce wines that are decidedly structured and firm; wines that are quite vinous in their darker fruit components, and that include those earthier notes and deep minerality. To the north of Pommard, the vineyards – to include Arvelets, Grands Epenots, Charmots, Pezerolles, and Coste-Caumartin’s monopole Clos des Boucherottes – are very nearly polar opposites of their neighbors. These northeasterly sites bring a more fruit driven version of Pommard to the table; the structure, while there, is less prominent. It is the cornucopia of assorted Pinot fruits that play the lead role in these Burgundies planted to chalky brown soils.
As we moved through the room, it was interesting attempting to discern vineyard typicity from one winemaker’s table to the next. To be certain, there were many a fantastic vigneron in attendance, yet as one sample of Pommard lead to another, I continually found myself seeking more transparency. It became apparent at one point that some had lost sight of place, preferring instead to make their own personal mark on the wines.
Then I discovered the table manned by Coste-Caumartin. A family Domaine since 1793, Coste Caumartin is now under the watchful (some say artful) eye of Jerome Sordet. To state that Sordet is a guardian of all that is Burgundy’s history is not an overstatement. Take for example the very land that he owns.
Burgundy’s rich, long history is forever linked to the Church. In the Middle Ages, most of Burgundy was owned by the Church. Parts of Volnay belonged to the order of Malta, while other sections were under the ownership of the Priory of Saint-Etienne. And most all who have even a casual knowledge of Burgundy have heard of the famous Dukes of Burgundy. And along with their holdings in Volnay, the Priory of Saint-Etienne also owned parcels in Pommard. These parcels are the very same plots upon which today are planted the vines owned by Jerome Sordet.
As Sordet further explains, his Fremiers once belonged to the Abbey de Maizieres, while the family’s monopole vineyard, Clos des Boucherottes, has been owned by the Sordet’s for over a century. These familial treasures explain Jerome’s firm conviction for time tested, traditional wine-making routines. Never will one experience mechanical harvests Chez Coste Caumartin, every single grape is harvested by hand and then sorted again by hand once in the winery. The wines are pressed by foot – as in the ways of his grandfather, Jerome explains – and only a maximum of 15% new wood is ever employed. These are classically structured wines, built for ageing, that are a joy to taste throughout their development.
And I (for one) am so pleased that this family is dedicated to terroir and place, rather than a personal thumbprint on their wines.