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DOMAINE ARNOUX-LACHAUX

Having expanded from Vosne-Romanée, in the Côte de Nuits, into neighbouring Burgundy appellations including Nuits Saints Georges, Clos de Vougeot, Latricières Chambertin, the Arnoux family, then Pascal Lachaux who married into the clan, and now his son Charles, have taken the opportunity to explore the various possible expressions of Pinot Noir. Sustainable, low-intervention growing and vinification techniques lead to some outstanding and authentic wines, exclusively distributed in the UK by Armit Wines…

The Arnoux name has been prominent in the Côte de Nuits since the mid-19th century, but all families need the influence of an outsider from time to time. In 1957, at the age of 26, Robert Arnoux became the fourth winemaking generation of the family in Vosne-Romanée and took production to genuinely commercial levels, acquiring additional parcels in neighbouring appellations including Nuits Saints Georges, Clos de Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, Echézeaux et al.

Robert had three daughters, one of whom, Florence, married a young pharmacist named Pascal Lachaux and prevailed upon him to help his father-in-law with the 1987 harvest before taking up a new job. He took winemaking like a natural and didn’t turn up at the new job, instead working with his father-in-law until Robert’s death in 1995. Pascal and Florence took on the mantle and, in 2007 changed the name of the Domaine to Arnoux-Lachaux in preparation for the arrival of generation number six. Armit Wines took on  the exclusive agency for UK import and distribution from the 2008 vintage. Pascal and Florence’s son Charles Lachaux studied in Beaune and gained experience in Oregon and South Africa, before returning to Burgundy to take over some vinification in 2012. Like his parents before him, he is gradually taking over production.

If Robert set the Domaine on the road to success, Pascal and Florence have done most of the driving. They renovated the caves, built a new cuverie and a stylish tasting room, as well as adding further parcels. The acquisition of Latricières Chambertin, in 2008, took the estate’s total to 14.5 hectares.

Above all, it was technical mastery of Pinot Noir where the couple made the greatest changes. Without baldly stating it on labels, they took up methods of viticulture which could be described variously as sustainable, organic or biodynamic. Pascal refers to the approach as “reasonable” - whatever the terminology, it’s an approach which has increased the health of the vines.

They pruned for lower yields and totally destemmed the grapes. More recently, they installed a vertical press, using non-interventionist principle of gravity, which is gentler than pneumatic alternatives, extracting less (and better) juice and keeping the tannins to a minimum. In the ageing of the Domaine’s wines, too, Pascal moved towards increased use of new oak. After three or four weeks of maceration, wines are aged in 30 to 100 percent renewed barrels, depending on the appellation and vintage. Charles, in turn, has introduced his own touches, including whole bunch fermentation - another step away from interventionist winemaking. All the family believes that the key to good wine is looking after the terroir and vines and letting the appellations speak for themselves.

Armit Wines has access to a wide range of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux’s appellations - regional wines such as Bourgogne Pinot Fin; villages including Vosne Romanée; premier crus such as Nuits Saint Georges Les Procès and Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots; and the grand crus Romanée Saint Vivant, Echézeaux, Latricières Chambertin and Clos de Vougeot.

Arnoux-Lachaux has a highly prized parcel in the upper part of Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, which produces Pinot Noir with bright crimson fruit on the nose and a lovely freshness on the palate. The Domaine’s Latricières Chambertin vineyard is similarly located at the very top of the appellation. Bound by woods on three sides, the parcel has a very rocky soil,which produces fresh and mineralic Pinot Noir. Half the vines are 25 years old, while the other half are 60. In contrast, the Clos de Vougeot vines, planted near the castle, average 65 years, and tend to produce a dense, gamey Burgundy.

At the more regular drinking end of the scale, the Bourgogne Pinot Fin is the only wine the family produces without new oak, and also the only one where they buy in grapes. However, it is largely built from their own rootstock in Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne Romanée and Nuits Saint Georges. It’s called Pinot Fin because these vines tend to produce lots of small and concentrated millerandé berries.

In 2015, UNESCO declared the Côte d’Or, including the Côte de Nuits, a World Heritage Site. Drinking the wines of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux is a pretty good way of travelling through this region and discovering the subtle differences in its terroir.

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Though a mere Bourgogne, this wine is a joyful and buoyant example of Pinot. Fine silken tannins, juicy freshness and subtle complexity is embedded in the ripe, rounded, fresh fruit. Marvellously drinkable, it raises Bourgogne from the mundane to the memorable.

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A true, sturdy Nuits with a solid frame and a masculine, meaty character. There is a savoury, spicy edge to the fruit here and on the palate the wine moves with freedom, showing finesse and a lightness of touch. There is considerably more to come here, the wine clearly possessing excellent depth and requiring time to develop fully. Drink from...

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Always an appealing and satisfying wine, the Poisets has a lively bouquet of pure red berries followed by an energetic palate with sweet forest fruits and a touch of freshly ground pepper and spice. Old vines in this vineyard provide additional depth on the palate while hints of leather and smoke on the finish, add further layers of complexity. Start...

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Complex and energetic with subtle notes of lavender and spice, this has an elegant sweetness on the palate with fine tannins and a refreshing mineral quality which runs through to a long finish. This is a vital wine with a lot going on but there is still plenty more to come. Drink from 2017.

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An unsung hero of the Arnoux-Lachaux cellar, the old vines of Poisets again give a wine of extra depth and intensity, the tannins refined but providing structural support. On the palate, there is plenty of sweet fruit to enjoy but so too spices and a light touch of pepper. Drink from 2015.

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A11NCPRA12B This is also exceptionally fresh though much more restrained with a beautifully well-layered nose of red berry fruit, earth and a hint of spice. There is a wonderfully seductive character to the rich and velvety middle weight flavors that manage to retain a fine sense of precision on the mouth coating and vibrant finish. This should mature gracefully and...

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Pascal has been looking for heightened finesse in this famously statuesque wine and in 2011 he has undoubtedly found it. The purity of the red fruits and the ripeness of the tannins set off perfectly the density of the wine and the iron-rich mineral notes that take over on the finish. This is controlled yet attractive and never overbearing or...

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2014 Bourgogne Pinot Fin

Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux

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Case 12 x 75cl £276.00

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TASTING NOTES

Though a mere Bourgogne, this wine is a joyful and buoyant example of Pinot. Fine silken tannins, juicy freshness and subtle complexity is embedded in the ripe, rounded, fresh fruit. Marvellously drinkable, it raises Bourgogne from the mundane to the memorable.

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2011 Bourgogne Pinot Fin

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Made from 50 year old vines, this is full flavoured yet very elegant with deep red cherry and dark plum fruit flavours. Integrated, velvety tannins and a hint of spice and leather on the finish add complexity and depth. This will be delicious in the next few years. Drink from 2016.

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A more subtle, reserved and overtly mineral nose, this is a wine of great depth with finely detailed spicy fragrances, rich tannins and rounded feel. This is confident wine that hasn¿t had to move out of second gear to already be impressive. Drink from 2011.

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2011 Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Procès

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Bottle 75cl £31.60

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Ripe red fruits interplay in an elegant, engaging style. The mid-palate shows good integration of tannins and there is pleasing lift on the finish, ensuring refreshment. Drink from release.

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The higher sand content in this vineyard encourages a more supple, less structured wine and this extra finesse and fluidity allows it to make friends quickly. On the palate, there is exceptional energy here with complex aromatics lifting off one after the other. The intensity on the finish is initially a surprise after the breeziness of the attack but it...

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An aromatic, refreshing wine with pure red berry fruit notes and hints of wild herbs and lavender.On the palate, there is a lovely freshness on the attack with attractive pure redcurrant notes followed by darker and denser characters in the background. This is a very fluid, appealing wine balanced by some firm tannins. Drink 2014.

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