One of the most exciting developments in the Australian wine industry over the past 10 to 15 years has been the emergence of new regions and/or sub-regions making great wine. In a previous post, Great Southern, WA: The New Centre for Australian Riesling?, I discussed how the Great Southern region of Western Australia is displaying fantastic potential for riesling and perhaps even starting to close the gap in terms of quality with its better known Clare and Eden Valley peers in South Australia!

If reviews for the Marchand & Burch Chardonnay are any indication, the Great Southern is also making impressive inroads in creating fine chardonnays.

Marchand and BurchMarchand & Burch is a joint venture between Burgundian winemaker Pascal Marchand and Howard Park and MadFish Wines’s vigneron and owner Tony Burch. Howard Park is one of Western Australia’s oldest and largest family-owned wineries with vineyards in both the Margaret River and the Great Southern. The Howard Park Chardonnay, sourced from its Mount Barker, Porongurups, Denmark vineyards in the Great Southern, is generally regarded as one of Australia’s best chardonnays.

Pascal Marchand, ex-winemaker at Comte Armand and Domaine de la Vougeraie in Burgundy, personally overseas the winemaking process; deciding, for example, how many whole bunches to include in fermentation. The vineyard and the winery are biodynamic and organic, with an emphasis is on small batch processing to bring out the distinct character of the terroir.  The chardonnay is hand-picked and wild fermented in French barriques. (Australian, New Zealand and Burgundian Pinot Noir by Tom Cannavan, wine-pages, October 2009)

In addition to the chardonnay, which was first released in 2007, Marchand & Burch make two pinot noirs from Mount Barrow and Gibraltar Rock in the Great Southern, and a shiraz. An extensive collection of Burgundian wines (17 in total to date) has also been released under the same label.

The Marchand & Burch Chardonnay hails from Porongurup, the fifth of the Great Southern’s five sub-regions and home to one of Australia’s oldest mountain ranges. The high altitude vineyards guarantee a cooler climate and the ancient soils are granite-rich and well drained. .

Here’s James Halliday’s 96 point review of the 2011 vintage:

Bright straw-green; it has exceptional drive and intensity to the long, lingering palate, fruit flavours in the nectarine, white peach and grapefruit spectrum; oak has played its part in creating a wine with great texture and structural complexity, its destiny far in the future. Drink to 2021.” James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 11 July 2013)

Merrill Witt

Merrill Witt, Editor