By Fergal Gleeson
Many Australian wine lovers are intimidated by Burgundy. They know their way around Pinot producers from Tasmania, Mornington and the Yarra. But Burgundy with it’s 100 or so named appellations/ villages and 650 Premier Crus seems labyrinthine.
Shortly before Covid 19 restrictions, I had a dinner at ‘Chiosco by Ormeggio’ at the Spit Bridge in Sydney with a group of friends who seldom drink anything other than Aussie reds.
I brought the wine, which was a selection of red burgundies from different villages and producers from vintages 2007 to 2013 that I’d snapped up at Langton’s auctions. They were blown away by the quality. There are one or two converts!
Australian Burgundy expert Philip Rich, who chairs the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge, noted recently in a chat with Ned Goodwin that the quality of new world Pinot Noir including Australian continues to rise but Burgundy remains distinctive. In his view the best Pinot in the world still comes from Burgundy.
Whether you are a Burgundy oracle or novice you should investigate the 2017 Marchand and Burch releases. Winemaker Pascal Marchand described the 2017 vintage as ‘the vintage of reward’. The first normal sized crop since 2010, where quality and quantity were excellent.
In such a northerly, marginal climate the winemaker is sometimes at the mercy of mother nature. In 2016 she was cruel, with much of the crop destroyed by frost and mildew. So a vintage like 2017 was a financial life saver.
Burgundy has been studied in more detail than any other wine region since the 12th century. Today the forensic analysis in which every vineyard and vintage is explored by British and American wine writers is mind boggling.
It would seem faintly ridiculous to anyone but the most obsessed with wine….. To winemakers and wine lovers it makes perfect sense.
Because Burgundy is considered the epitome of terroir driven wines. This was why the ancient monks recorded their observations and delineated every site.
For many twenty first century wine lovers all roads still lead to Burgundy!
Marchand & Burch Tasting Notes
Marchand and Burch Savigny Les Beaune 2017 ($102) is from the up and coming village of Savigny that is getting more attention. It is the lightest of the tasting and has an unassuming style making it the earliest drinker.
There’s an aliveness to the sour cherry fruit and a punchy energy that is uniquely Burgundian and a characteristic of 2017.
The Marchand & Burch Gevrey Chambertin 2017 ($125) is more savoury and weighted. But it’s not Barossa Shiraz, it’s of medium weight with tannins woven through the cherries and strawberries.
I drank the M&B Gevrey Chambertin 2007 from my cellar recently. Aged burgundy is a treat and Gevrey Chambertin has the structure to last.
The Marchand and Burch Chambolle Musigny 2017 ($167) is succulent with power, density, earthy characters and is really striking. Burgundy buffs regard the district as the most “feminine” wine of the Côte de Nuits; its intensity and delicacy are subtle.
You see one of the distinctions here from new world Pinots. Chambolle Musigny 2017 is less fruit driven and is framed in a light structure which gives pleasure but also ageability.
Marchand and Burch Volnay Fremiets 1er Cru ($175) This is a Premier Cru designated wine (shorted to 1er Cru meaning first growth) from a vineyard (Fremiets) recognised as producing superior quality grapes over a long period of time.
Less than 20% of wines in Burgundy carry the Premier Cru label. This is another beautiful, medium bodied wine of great elegance.
Marchand and Burch Morey Saint Denis Les Millandes 1er Cru ($190)
Another Premier Cru and this has more depth than others in the range . Elegant with gentle tannins. All of the above wines bar are ageworthy but the Morey Saint Denis will do so most obviously.
Full of nuance it manages to be both structured and delicate. By reputation, Morey Saint Denis is more meaty than many other villages. In the 2017 which was slightly warmer than average vintage this wine is very approachable now.
These are biodynamically made wines made from old vines with no trickery by Pascal Marchand. Marchand and Burch is a Franco/Australian collaboration between two old friends.
There are marked differences in the wines coming as they do from villages with different characteristics but there is commonality to them in verve, balance and tension.
To quote British Wine Critic Neal Martin “Nothing is quite like Burgundy when you drive past historical vineyards, visit ancient vaulted cellars lacquered in mould and meet genuine winemakers who devote their lives to tending vines ….. Nobody makes Pinot Noir like Burgundy.”
Visiting Burgundy is impossible for now but the Marchand and Burch 2017 collection is a pretty good window into what he is talking about.
These wines are available direct from the winery at http://www.marchandburchwines.com.au