2016 Burgundy Report from Marchand-Tawse

A Special Report from John Beaver Truax

In March I had the good fortune to return to Burgundy and attend the Hospices de Nuits auction and a bi-annual event for the international wine trade, the “Grand Jours de Bourgogne”. This is a five day event that covers the wines of Burgundy from Macon all the way up to Chablis. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun. I really look forward to going every two years.

I stayed for an extra week and visited some new producers and revisited a lot of old friends – like the ebullient and dynamic Pascal Marchand, a charismatic Canadian who moved from Montréal to Burgundy in 1983, worked harvest for Bruno Clair.  He worked so hard that Bruno invited him to stay in a paid position.  He was there for a year and the became the winemaker at Comte Armand, owner of the monopole Pommard 1er Cru ‘Clos des Epeneaux” for many years.  Then he had the opportunity to build a Domaine from scratch, Domaine de la Vougeraie from 1999 through 2005.   Pascal has a negociant label Marchand/Tawse and Domaine Tawse.  They bought Domaine Maume in Gevrey Chambertin and have folded that into their vast portfolio of Burgundy vineyards.  We had a great tasting at his Nuits Saint Georges cuverie, a sprawling facility with miles of underground cellars beneath the streets of Nuits Saint Georges.  Parts of it are like being in a bomb shelter, it is an unbelievably massive network of tunnels that seem to go on forever.
Pascal is an old friend and he is a fireball, his energy and enthusiasm are infectious.  You spend a few hours with him and get really keyed up,  his is an infectious and contagious excitement.  He had just returned from the Montreal Film Festival and the premiere of  “Grand Cru” a documentary about the very difficult 2016 Burgundy harvest starring – Pascal Marchand!
We started with a 2016 Chambolle Musigny Villages, it had a perfumed nose, nice body on the mid palate and an astringent finish.  A nice wine.
Next a 2016 Savigny les Beaune “Les Lavieres”: Brambly, kind of rustic, good fruit, extract and body. I told him I liked it, a good honest wine.  Pascal said, “Thanks but I wish I had more. Look – that’s it. Two barrels in 2016.  In 2015 I had 15-16 barrels.”
Then 2016 Morey Saint Denis “En la Rue de Vergy”: Black fruit, super aromatic, very pretty.  Pascal has a good feel for Morey Saint Denis.
2016 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru “Clos des Ormes”: Very dark fruit, brooding, deep, big rich and powerful.  Long finish.  A super wine.
2016 Beaune 1er Cru “Tuvilans”: Rich ripe red fruits and very fine ripe tannins – very good indeed.
2016 Volnay “Fremiets”: Big rich red fruits, very fine and supple tannin, good long finish.
2016 Vosne Romanée “Champ Perdrix”: From the top of the hill, this was a special cuvee Pascal made with no sulfur added. Dark fruit like blackberries and plums this wine was very pure and rich with explosive fruit, it really jumped out of the glass.  Nice lingering finish.
2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Les Perrieres”: I wrote “Strong, powerful, minty + forest floor – very Nuits”
2016  Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Richemone”: Powerful black fruits, big and rich and Vosne-like
2016 Pommard 1er Cru “Rugiens”: Powerful, big rich black-fruited, tannic and a very long finish.  Pascal knows a thing or two about Pommard.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cherbaudes”:  Lovely fruit bomb, very dark cherry, very drinkable, wanted to take it to dinner.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux Saint Jacques”: Also very pretty, seductive with dark cherry fruit
2016 Échezeaux:  A curious spice and fruit laden nose that was like cinnamon and quince paste – really unique and fabulous, truly Grand Cru complexity!
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Combe Brulee”: Black fruit and five spice, allspice – pure and ripe with a very long finish.
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Petits Monts”: Very powerful, tannic, rich and long
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Suchots”:  Inky, dark black fruit, very fine subtle silky ripe tannins, very long finish, really a showstopper. 100% whole cluster fermented because Pascal says that this parcel of Suchhots has the “finest Pinot Fin he has ever seen with very thin stems, tiny berries”.
2016 Clos Saint Denis:  Ethereal and fine – super juice – a wine of great finesse.
2016 Clos de la Roche: Very very good and powerful, a show stopper full of black fruit, tannin, complexity, everything.
2016 Charmes-Chambertin:  A very tangy wine with great salinity and great power.
2016 Mazoyeres-Chambertin: Rich boysenberry fruit with great salinity on the very long finish.
2016 Mazis-Chambertin: Big rich black fruit with tangy oyster shell salinity on the finish.
2016 Musigny:  A very pale color, almost like a dark rose wine, Pascal did not crush the berries, he destemmed by hand and fermented them intact in a barrel and let them pop. A very delicate yet powerful wine of a filigreed complexity that unfold and unfolds into a very lingering finish.  Simply magnificent.  He made Musigny at Domaine de la Vougeraie and then for a while he wondered if he would ever be able to make Musigny again.  Now he can and he is delighted.
Marc de Bourgogne: I wasn’t about to start drinking Marc before dinner but I did taste it and spat it out.  He has been making a barrel of Marc every year for seven years and just ages them.  He is thinking about blending the barrels before he sell it as a multi-vintage blend.
After the tasting we drove to Beaune for dinner at Ma Cuisine.  This restaurant has been the place to go for the international wine trade when in Beaune.  You never know who you might see in there.  Owner Pierre Escoffier greeted us and it seemed like Pascal knew half of the diners.  Or more.  A number of people got up from their tables to kiss him on both cheeks, slap on the back, how are you, great to see you, you must try this wine, etc.  There was a table hosted by a Beverly Hills based importer with a group of sommeliers from Los Angeles and San Francisco, their table was littered with great bottles, Comte Lafon, Chave Hermitage white, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee, Selosse Rose, a bottle of Yquem and just for good measure a fine old bottle of Vin Jaune.  This group was not messing around.
We sat down, perused the list and I was surprised that Pascal chose a 2015 Pibarnon Bandol – he loves this wine and had not had the new vintage.  We ordered a dozen escargot and I got the pigeon, an old favorite.  At the table next to us were three 20 something year old sommeliers from Montreal, two young women and one young man talking in that unmistakable Quebecois accent.  They could barely contain their excitement at being seated right next to us.  Are you Pascal Marchand?  Can we take a picture with you?  Really?!  I was roped into photographer duties with all three cell phones. Three thrilled millennial Montreal sommeliers were now home town heroes on Instagram.  After dessert, coffee and Calvados it was time to call it a night.  Six hours later Pascal was up and back at it.
Join us this Wednesday, May 16th, from 5:30 until 7:30, as we welcome winemaker Thomas Dinel, of Maison Marchand-Tawse. There will be wine! You can meet a true movie star! Ask him your questions and he’ll give you some answers.

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