It is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in Burgundy that from very modest holdings in Mersault and Puligny-Montrachet, Arnaud Ente and his wife Marie-Odile produce some of the most extraordinary wines of the region.
After time spent working for the famed Coche Dury, Arnaud Ente leased vines from his father-in-law in 1992 and began producing his own wine. Ente’s style has evolved from one of opulence in the 1990s borne of picking the fruit at maximum ripeness to the current style of restraint, freshness and minerality, realised with an earlier picking schedule and changes in the winery. Today the husband and wife team together with two employees manage a portfolio of four hectares, which includes Mersault holdings in the clos En L’Ormeau, the lieu-dit Les Petits Charrons and the premier crus of La Goutte d’Or and in Puligny-Montrachet, Les Referts.
The vines in En L’Ormeau, which represent the majority of the estate, produce three wines, which are identified according to age of vines and position within the clos; they are Sève du Clos, Clos des Ambres and Meursault AOC. When tasting the La Sève Du Clos 2012, Allen Meadows of Burghound discovers “… a wonderful sense of verve to the refreshing and lightly mineral-inflected medium-bodied flavours that culminate in an explosive, linear and saline inflected finish; indeed this is almost salty. This is terrific and highly recommended...”
Fastidious work in the vineyard where exceptional attention is paid to each vine has produced a clutch of wines that offer richness and complexity at every level. The estate is managed biodynamically and the wines are released unfined and unfiltered. Vinification and maturation regimes demonstrate a considered approach to the use of wood. Larger, 450L and 600L vessels and some stainless steel are employed with less frequent use of the more traditional barriques and the portion of new wood used for top cuvées has decreased from 35% to 20%. In his own words, Ente says “We don't want the artifice of too much wood; we want to maximise the fruit – pure juice!”
Within a portfolio of white wines and a red Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire (Gamay) sits an acclaimed Aligoté produced from vines planted in 1938. The 2014 Aligoté was awarded 17 points by Jancis Robinson MW who described the wine as, “Glorious! Broad and rich. Neat acidity. Very precise.” In the 2015 Robinson finds the wine to be “extraordinarily rich” and finishes her note with the simple directive “Buy!”
Wine critics across the globe are unanimous in their assessment of Ente’s wines – they are wines that stand apart from others in the region. Descriptors such as “…staggeringly magnificent … gorgeous and mind-blowing”, are employed by Jacqueline Friedrich when writing in The Wines of France and Bettane & Desseauve voted Ente, Man of the Year in 2012, describing him as an exceptional talent.
The allure of Ente’s wines might be best captured by John Gilman of View from the Cellar when he says, “These are among the most beautifully refined and mineral white wines to be found anywhere in the Côte de Beaune … absolutely no one in this renaissance in Meursault is making finer wines than Ente.”