By Alexandria Rae Cubbage, 16 July 2020
The winemaking tradition at Domaine Armand Heitz dates back to 1857. Domaine Armand Heitz is located in Chassagne-Montrachet and was founded in the mid-1980s by Armand Heitz’s parents Brigette and Christian with initially just 5 hectares. Armand studied oenology and then decided to take over his family’s vines after completing his studies in 2011. For years, his mother, Brigette had contracted these vines to Maison Joseph Drouhin. And since taking over Armand has sought about regaining control of more of the vines under the domaine. He made his first vintage in 2013 with the help of consulting oenologist Ludovic Pierrot who had spent eight years working with Anne-Claude Leflaive at Domaine Leflaive. Armand farms the vineyards using biodynamic practices and his winemaking style is traditional in approach with the use of new oak kept at a minimum, usually around just 20-25%.
Armand represents one of the young rising stars among the winemakers of the 21st Century who are learning and offering a fresh perspective on winemaking. He believes that all parts of the vine are integral to making a living wine which is part of why he uses the whole bunch in his winemaking (most of the reds are 50%-100% whole bunch).
The wines produced here express their terroir while also being quite giving in their fruit expression. The first red wine in the portfolio is Folie Sauvauge which is filled with bright and lively wild red berry fruits and is medium bodied; it’s easy drinking and a great choice for having on its own, slightly chilled. It’s a blend of 50% Gamay from plots of Domaine de la Combe Vineuse in Beaujolais located on the hillsides and grown on blue stone schist soils. Then, the remaining 50% of the blend is Pinot Noir grapes from Meursault and Volnay grown on clay and limestone soils.
The top of range here for the reds are the Pommard 1er Cru ‘Rugiens’ and Volnay 1er Cru ‘Taillepieds’, and the impact of the use of 100% stems comes through in the 2018s. One of the positive impacts Armand finds from the use of stems is that it helps keep more sugar in the wines. Thus, the pleasing ripeness levels they experienced in the 2018s come through. The ‘Rugiens’ comes from the top part of the vineyard where the soil is made up of more rocks and limestone, so as a result the vines struggle, and the resulting wine has power and concentration. In the 2018, these elements come through combined with sweet spice and minerally notes and red cherry fruit. In their plot of ‘Taillepieds’ the soil is quite similar to that in ‘Rugiens’ and as a result the 2018 is a more masculine style of Volnay with structured tannins, a minerally backbone, rose floral aromas, and dark raspberry fruit with depth on the palate.
For the whites, the highlights are the Meursault 1er Cru ‘Les Perrières’ and Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru. ‘Les Perrières’ comes from an area with lots of stones in the soil. The 2018 shows aromatic intensity on the nose with abundant fruit character from flavours of peaches and other stone fruits with a precise and minerally finish. For the Chevalier-Montrachet the soils are poor naturally limiting the yields such that the resulting wine is very expressive; it was the standout wine of the tasting. The Chevalier showed riper flavours of tropical fruits, nectarines and mandarin citrus with deep concentration and a long length. The body is fuller and deeper than ‘Les Perrières’. The goal of finding balance between sugars and acidity and the respect for nature come through in these wines.