Only 1750btls & 66 Magnums Arnaud Ente’s Volnay Les Santenots 2006

I have had a personal connection with this grower since I fell in love with wine.  It was 1997 and I was on my first “kiss the dirt” & “schmooze with the farmers” tour with Kermit Lynch Imports, more specifically w/ Bruce Neyers.  We were in Beaune and had the most amazing dinner at Ma Cuisine (the place to eat and drink and rub elbows with the famous in Burgundy), Bruce and the elders retired to their hotel room and left (at that time) the young guns behind with Arnaud and his wife.  Arnaud invited us back to his house for a tasting in the cellar, which was at the time no bigger than my single car garage. The 4 of us along with Arnaud and his wife all picked a barrel to straddle and sit atop, funny thing that I still remember was the TINY amount of wine…we were “Riding” 6 barrels and there may have been maybe another 10 in the tiny cellar.  That night we passed the wine thief around and Drank 4 whites and 2 reds out of the barrel till the sun came up.  When the rooster sounded, myself and one other who could get to his feet left with Arnaud and went to La Goutte d’Or his most prized Premier Cru vineyard to this day.  He has two rows which drunkenly we help him with “Ecolage”(yes its French but the only word I know) the training of the shoot of the vines through the wires and breaking the cane at a point so the canopy fills in around the fruit zone. Yes, I think I was 29 and I was having the best time ever and have never forgotten my time in Beaune or his wines.

Arnaud Ente is a perfectionist. He works his vineyards meticulously (en bio, but not officially certified), yields are low. His aim is to make pure, mineral wines. He gained experience working with no other than Coche-Dury. In 1992 he began his own Domaine, renting vineyards from his father-in-law. Today he belongs, as far as I’m concerned, to the Big Four of Meursault (the others being the usual suspects Comtes Lafon, Coche-Dury and Roulot), even though the domaine is quite small (a little over 4 hectares) and Ente doesn’t have a lot of premier cru’s in his line-up.

Ente is better known for his Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts and his various Meursault bottlings, but this is flat-out gorgeous red Burgundy. Light to medium garnet color (always a good sign for me, suggesting no heavy extraction); the bouquet is just so lovely – ripe cherries, inflected with subtle notes of pine and sea salt; the palate is one of fleshy red cherry fruit, underpinned by a solid mineral core and kept fresh by bright acids; the lovely inner-mouth perfume is the clincher. This is Volnay!

Arnaud Ente describes 2006 as “one of those vintages where the maturities arrived late but very fast. Sugars were high, in fact, we had the best sugars since 1999. I started picking very early by the standard of the ban de vendange [officially mandated harvest date, which was declared on the 18th], which is to say on the 13th of September as I asked for, and received, a permit to begin early. I have relatively precocious terroirs and I didn’t want too much alcohol for no good reason. I did a rather soft vinification for the reds, which in this case meant that I did a relatively long cuvaison but with no punching down at all. There was also no chaptalization, which is the first time that this has ever happened to me.” A gentle touch of wood frames much more elegant red berry fruit aromas that are cool, pure and detailed and this sense of reserve continues onto the mineral-infused and serious flavors that possess integrated tannins.

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