UPDATE:Spring 2012 – A selection of 2010s
The redoubtable, indefatigable Pascal Marchand is back.
In a Burgundy context Pascal’s talent was spotted and brought to the fore when the Comte Armand chose him to be winemaker at the Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard; that was in 1985. French-Canadian Pascal had begun his journey by working the 1983 harvest with François Germain then working at Domaine Bruno Clair while studying. With the help of viticulturalist Bernard Zito, Pascal immediately made his mark by converting the Comte Armand domaine to organic viticulture. The wines of the Clos des Epeneaux gathered good reviews though split enthusiasts; for as silky as they were there was a heft of steel too – only now are many of those vintages starting to become compliant – though much of that is down to the terroir.
In 1999, together again with Bernard, Pascal jumped to a new ship in Premeaux; the newly established Domaine de la Vougeraie was a massive domaine with a list of crown-jewel appellations – it must have been hard to turn down. Ever looking to hone his approach, Pascal and Bernard brought organic then biodynamic viticulture to this venture and together they cemented the name of Vougeraie as a serious producer.
In 2006 Pascal decided to concentrate on consulting; he had already gained a list of private clients but now had the time to indulge himself also outside the Côte d’Or, becoming the classic flying winemaker – in 2007 establishing Marchand Burch and taking many local wine trophies. Pascal was never very far from Nuits St.Georges though; he also popped up, consulting at Thomas-Moillard until the Thomas family’s lust for clash closed them down – many of those 2006-2007 Thomas-Moillard wines would be great buys if you can find them.
Ever a busy boy, 2006 was also the inaugural vintage of Pascal’s own label; starting with about 1,000 cases, it peaked in 2009 to a little over 6,000 cases but made up of 34 different wines. “When a I started this I did it all by myself, but I knew I’d that I’d eventually have to go into a partnership for the capital if I wanted to buy vines.” That partner turned out to be somebody he’d worked with: In 1993 Pascal met fellow Canadian, Murray Tawse for the first time, later they even established a vineyard together when Pascal was working with Boisset (Vougeraie). Murray is clearly no sleeping partner, having recently contributed 1er cru vines in Beaune, Puligny and Chassagne, and even a little Corton-Charlemagne.
When I met Pascal in May 2011 he was working out of cellars just across the road from the old Thomas-Moillard buildings in Nuits. Pascal has now bought a big chunk of these empty Thomas-Moillard buildings which at one time were used as a winery – but not in the last 30-40 years. After some updating I expect he’ll be installed in 2012. There is also a familiar face in Pascal’s cellars in Nuits, that of Amandine Terrier who joined him from Vougeraie in 2008.
Much of Pascal’s raw materials are delivered in the form of grapes, fermented often with some or all of their stems then aged with a minimum of racking; villages cuvées are usually 10-12 casks, once you get to the 1er crus, no more than 6 casks for any single wine though some are as low as one cask – the majority of the grand crus are 1-2 cask lots. And what a range Pascal has put together, there is even a barrel of Musigny; he notes “I was able to develop good relations with many growers over the years. What’s important to me is that all my suppliers are good farmers – some are organic, others are heading that way but the farming is the key for me.”
Production is about 75% red, 25% white. In the cuverie Pascal uses some large casks for his whites, but once the get to four years old Pascal might put some reds in to – “I like them because they are really easy to clean.” Whites all fermented in barrel, with plenty of lees and a long fermentation – because the cellar is cold – there is no battonage.
NEGOCE & CONSEIL PASCAL MARCHAND
9, rue Julie Godemet – BP 76
Tel/Fax : +33(0)3 80 20 37 32
Tasted in Nuits with Pascal, 19th May 2011. Most of the 09s were still in barrel but would be racked by gravity and then bottled in the coming weeks. Grand crus are all 100% new oak. You can also find the wines in a few restaurants in Beaune such as Ma Cuisine and La Ciboulette – they are definitely worth your while. I’ve already invested in a few.
Fruit mainly from Pommard with just a touch of Marsannay, bottled in March. Pretty red fruit aromas. Bright and with quite a nice depth of flavour. Good.
The Avalon which is a blend of villages from both Côtes including some 1er cru too – 800-900 cases so an important wine – an upscale Bourgogne if you like. Avalon is targeted around $30 dollars in the US/Canada. The nose is a little more floral and adds depth too. This is a rounder wine with larger shoulders too – good intensity and long finishing. There is structure too, I expect that this would benefit from a few months of bottle rest, but it’s clearly above bourgogne standard.
Nice flowers on the nose. Rounder in the mouth with supple tannins and a flavour that runs right through the core into the finish. Fresh in personality and quite long, mineral too. Not an ‘obvious’ 2009 and all the better for it. Fine.
From seventy year-old vines. This has a lovely and fine red-berry nose. Very nice mid-palate density, there’s balance too. I like this very much.
Also from more than seventy year-old vines. Very pretty high-toned red fruits. Fuller in the mouth and more structure than the Vignes-Franches too. Very fine and supple tannin, the fruit very slowly decaying in the finish. Very nice.
Made with 15% whole clusters. Exuberantly fruited – dark fruits – good depth too, my mouth is watering just from the smell. There’s plenty of structure but the dark and sweetly ripe fruit is perfectly matched. Super villages.
From the Morey side of Gevrey and one of Pascal’s favourites – made only with whole clusters and every year since his first vintage of 06. Every wine so-far has had its own distinct character, end here is another. Rose-scented and with very fine tannin, redder fruit and a slowly lingering flavour. Fine.
Fermented with near 40% whole bunches. The nose is much tighter. Supple structure and lovely acidity – a more understated wine than the Roncevies but very long, impressively so. Yum!
A hint of reduction lifts allowing pretty red fruits to come to the fore. An excellent extra dimension of flavour bursts through the mid-palate. Penetrating and very impressive.
This time with twenty percent whole bunches in the fermentation. Benchmark aromas of Vosne – spicy bread and dark red fruit. In the mouth the sweet fruit dominates the structure. Nice long flavours of still dark fruit.
Another of Pascal’s first wines. Higher-toned fruit. Elegantly flavoured with understated ripe fruit and a little stem flavour. A long and subtle finish – much like the wine itself.
A wine of fine transparency and an ingraining flavour that manages to grow even more in the mid-palate. Just a lovely contemplative wine.
The nose is fresh if a little tight. Ripe fruit but with a fine intensity and more than enough to dominate the background structure.
Only whole clusters in the fermentation. There’s a high-toned perfumed dimension to the fruit flavours. More tannin but it is well covered by the flavour – lovely wine, only a hint of astringency in the finish – super.
Precise dark fruits on the nose are quite beguiling. Mouth-filling, lots of structure but there is enough balance. Slowly lingering flavour. A little early patience is required I think but this is super stuff.
100% whole cluster, 100% new oak too. Quite tight this, just a few flashes of darker fruit on the nose. The tannin is more obvious even than the Vaucrains, fine as the tannin is. This is clearly a little tight but there is balance and intensity here.
The is time 50% whole cluster, 50% new oak too. There’s a hint of reduction and the nose is quite tight if nicely round. Fine tannin and although there’s plenty of it, there is hardly any astringency. Long finishing on a dark fruit note.
100% whole cluster, 50% new oak too. Roses, dark fruit and some spice on the nose. Plenty of structure here but there’s a finesse too. Very good wine.
From Rognets et Corton There’s a hint of reduction that mixes and perhaps twists the dark fruits. There is a nice linearity but very fine dark fruit too. Lovely, lovely wine.
From the lower part of Grand Maupertuis, made with 40% whole clusters. Wide and not so deep but the nose seems almost textured. Full-flavoured, the fruit is in the ascendant despite plenty of structure. Slowly lingering in the finish – this is fine.
A sumptuous depth of red and black fruit. The fruit is sweetly ripe against your tongue and dominates the structure today. This is lovely though perhaps just a little less focused than the Clos de Vougeot. A super reprise of flavour in the finish.
Fabulous aromas; flowers and fruit, super-fine, super-lovely. Full, round and silky with penetrating flavour. I’m in love – super, super…
The aromas are clearly more mineral than the Clos St.Denis – higher tones too. Flavour-packed, again with a strong mineral dimension but achingly fine fruit too. This has quite some presence – better than the Clos St.Denis? It’s a close run thing…
The nose is quite understated, very slowly building some depth. This is quite concentrated and not put at a disadvantage by following the last two wines. Very tasty indeed.
From two suppliers offering complimentary parcels for the blend. It’s hard to find great Mazis, but here is one! Brooding, dark aromas that build depth in the glass, a hint of coffee too. Width and complexity, and despite the power there’s really something worth contemplation too – super.
Complex and mineral yet still rather pretty. Round-flavoured though the structure currently dominates the underlying fruit. Despite all the wines that have gone before, this is still a little step further – superb.
An assembly of multiple parcels from around Meursault. Absolutely classic aromas with just a little added minerality. Round and silky, this is, of-course, very tasty though I’d still like a hint more acidity – I can be pretty picky…
Depth and complexity – a superb nose – really! Energy, some minerality and intense, lovely length. Understated but very long…
The nose has subtle roses. Understated but lovely fruit joins perfectly balancing acidity. The flavour grows stronger in the mid-palate before a good finish. A very pretty wine indeed.