Article written by Angus Hughson for WinePilot.com
Pinot Noir was far from front of mind when Jeff and Amy Burch purchased their first Western Australian vineyards in Margaret River back in 1988. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Shiraz were most promising for the region and they had little experience with Pinot Noir nor intention to add it to their wine portfolio, but not for long.
The late 1980s were exciting times for Margaret River and the locals would often taste wine together. Jeff would host tasting groups at his Yallingup beach house which started with serious wine tastings and discussions generally followed by dinner and an after party. It was a time of discovery in the new world of wine for Jeff and Amy. Regions and wine styles from around the world, such as Champagne, were explored and it was during one of these events that the seeds were sown for new Pinot Noir vineyards and a foray into Burgundy.
Regular visitors to these tastings were Kevin, Di and Vanya Cullen and during one such tasting Kevin brought a bottle of Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret from one of the finest vineyards and vintages – 1978 Richebourg. Jeff was instantly hooked and by 1990 he was travelling through Burgundy to discover all he could about Pinot Noir.
On one of these trips Jeff was introduced to Pascal Marchand. Montreal born and raised, this French Canadian had an enviable resume and despite being relatively young was already winemaker at one of Pommard’s leading wineries, Domaine Comte Armand. He later moved to Domaine de la Vougeraie. Jeff and Amy soon purchased a property located next door to Marchand in Monthelie for a future base during regular trips to Burgundy.
It was on one such trip where Marchand & Burch was born. Marchand had left Domaine de la Vougeraie and was enjoying some rare spare time so Jeff and Pascal cooked up an international plan to collaboratively craft exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both in Burgundy and Western Australia’s Great Southern region, which was slowly emerging as a new hot spot for cool climate wines. During the 2007 vintage, Pascal visited and found some exceptional Chardonnay fruit for their new label. But for Pinot Noir he was less impressed “I don’t like your Pinot Noir at all. We’ve got a long road ahead.”
Jeff and Amy already owned the Mount Barrow vineyard located in an elevated location near Mount Barker, which is one of the highest vineyards in Western Australia. This included Pinot Noir vineyards to which Pascal and Jeff have since added experimental plantings of three clones chosen by Marchand to make a total of ten different Pinot Noir clones. Marchand created quite a stir at Perth airport when he first imported live vines of these clones on his trip for the 2007 vintage which then spent the next two and a half years in quarantine before being planted out in the Mount Barrow vineyard.
On top of the wines made in Western Australia, Marchand & Burch also purchase fruit from a wide range of vineyards in Burgundy to bottle under their Marchand & Burch label, from generic Bourgogne through to the famed Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. Whether sourced from Burgundy or Western Australia, Marchand & Burch provides a rare opportunity to enjoy exceptional Pinot Noirs from the old and new world thanks to this unique collaboration between Jeff Burch and Pascal Marchand.
Marchand & Burch Bourgogne Rouge 2018
90 points, Ray Jordan
Wines labelled as Bourgogne are drawn from some of Burgundy’s flatter vineyards, plus some steeper sections or young vines that do not qualify for famous villages such as Vosne-Romaneé or Gevrey-Chambertin. Fruit for this wine was picked from vines located near Nuits-Saint-Georges, Marsannay and in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and it is made for early drinking thanks to its short maceration and subtle tannins.
From the warmer and drier 2018 vintage this is an entry level Burgundy that offers excellent value for money. It has a juicy fruity character with a trace of minerality. The oak is minimal, and no new oak has been used. Unfined and unfiltered at bottling this Burgundy has a succulent rich mouthfeel albeit on medium body. Drink: 2021 – 2024
Marchand & Burch Marsannay 2017
95 points, Ray Jordan
The partnership of Burgundian winemaker Pascal Marchand and West Australian wine producer Jeff Burch, a Burgundian tragic, is producing a range of exceptional wines from this region. This wine comes from two plots in Marsannay, a northern subregion of the Côte de Nuits – Les Longeroies and the En la Poulotte.
Les Longeroies, sits on the side of a very steep hill facing south east as it slopes down to a flatter plain, while the En la Poulotte is in the village of Couchey, just South of Marsannay. The combination of the two brings together the elegance and finesse of Les Longeroies with the structure of En la Poulotte.
Marchand adopts a process of cold maceration, regular foot stomping and regular pumpovers to achieve a very gentle extraction. The wine gets 14 months in oak of which only 15% is new and there is no fining or filtration.
Lifted perfumes of violets and strawberry with a spicy subtle minerally aromatic. The tannins are fine and slightly chalky which contribute to a wine of elegance and structural integrity. The supple fruit flavours have the character and complexity to evolve into more intriguing characters with ageing. The combination of excellent fruit and sympathetic winemaking has created a wine that is vibrant and bursting with life and energy. Drink 2021 – 2033
Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2018
95 points, Angus Hughson
There are not many great pinot noirs currently coming out of Western Australia. Pinot Noir is one of the most fickle grape varieties and to date only a handful of sites have been discovered that suit it in the west – this is one of them.
The first components of the Mount Barrow Pinot Noir vineyard in Mount Barker were planted in 2005. It is one the highest vineyards in Western Australia, planted at between 280 and 420 metres, which, compounded with a south facing slope, provides that cooler climate that pinot noir craves. Fruit for this vintage comes from the highly regarded Burgundian clones 114 and 115, although a new planting of French clones is destined for inclusion in this wine for the 2021 vintage.
Bright mid cherry in colour, it is a fragrant and meaty pinot style. Dark cherry, spice, beetroot and dark earth aromas are supported by prominent vanillin oak. Dry, mid weight, fleshy and supple, it has a beautifully silky mid palate with haunting autumnal rotting leaf and spice nuances. The wine finishes with superb length and purity plus soft tannins. The best vintage of this label yet. Drink 2021 – 2029