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Burgundy Harvest 22 September 2014…

DSC05052I loved the Clos St.Denis but was completely unmoved by the Griotte – and I can’t blame the cork! How will the last of this trio of 2012s fare?

2012 Chézeaux (Ponsot), Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Deeply coloured. Pure, crunchy griotte fruit – obvious ripeness but plenty of freshness too – I like. In the mouth this has a widening palate, sweetness but a nice texture and energy too. It seems longer-finishing that the Griotte-Chambertin and certainly much more interest today. This is a good wine that I’ll be happy try again (and again!)
Rebuy – Yes

Back to the harvest…

This morning was blue-skied sunshine – but 4 or 5 degrees cooler was my impression – it feels just a little more autumnal. The forecast for the coming days is great though, a disadvantage of that is that our growers have decided that they will wait, and maybe pick on Tuesday or Wednesday. Luckily, one of them has second thoughts, delivering a few pallets of Le Chambertin (fanfare!)

Given that the grapes arrive just before lunch, it seems fair that we leave them in the refrigerated truck and attend to them after desert and coffee – in France, even Le Roi comes after lunch ;-)

We have only a small team today, but we have the time to sort, slow and steady – the grapes are in great shape – just some occasional rot and the small dried grapes to take away. This will make a lovely wine.

Pics from Beaune this morning, and Le Roi Chambertin:

Burgundy Harvest: 21 Sept 2014 (the pause)…

Of-course we had storms and even the possibility of hail in our weather forecast for today, so no grapes.

Instead, breakfast at Hotel Le Montrachet – for six – one of which has their birthday. We, very enjoyably, graze for 90 minutes, until they take it all away…

As you will note from the pictures (below), the storm seemed a long, way-away – if it was to come at all – there’s a short burst of rain in Beaune about 14h45, but only for 5 minutes against a backdrop of sunshine. So back to the keyboard, after cruising past the cows in Place Madeleine!

Post Script: A few small showers later in the evening, but basically nothing. We thank the forecasters for our day off!

Not so stormy Beaune:

mark’s harvest: 18 sept (pics)…

Burgundy Harvest: 20 Sept 2014…

DSC05021It’s Saturday!!

But no rest for the wicked – or those with grapes! The rain started again on Friday evening ~21h00 – it was still raining at 12h30, but I’ve no idea when it stopped. There were a few spots of rain this morning too, but not enough to really wet – the sun shone brightly from about 14h00 though. There’s the possibility of a storm with hail forecast for Sunday, so tomorrow we have no grapes – but there was plenty to pick today, hence, we triaged from 10h00-19h00 – admittedly with the two obligatory coffee-pauses and a good lunch. I brought the 1973 no-name Romanée St.Vivant – all chocolate, width and with just a faint suggestion of oxidation. It exceeded my expectations!

And the grapes? First, it was the return of the Santenay Villages whose picking was cut short yesterday due to the storm. Beautiful grapes as you can see below. Then (fanfare…) Corton Clos du Roi, then Maranges 1er Croix Aux Moines. Actually the loveliest grapes were the Santenay; the Clos du Roi had no rot but we had to concentrate on eliminating the small, dried grapes from the triage table – and there were lots. One of our parcels of Maranges had quite a bit of unripe clusters – we didn’t really want to pick it until next week – but given the forecast, the grower decided not to wait. Still, a rosé will also be made tonight ;-)

First, the Santenay:

And the others:

Burgundy Harvest: sensationalist, un-nuanced, reporting

Burgundy 2014: September heatwave set to save vintage

Sensationalist BS – the headline anyway – it could of-course reference the ‘Meursault to Beaune’ area but that is, from a volume perspective, clearly only a modest percentage of whole of Burgundy, and (for instance) contains no red grand crus etcetera, etcetera…

Let’s assume it was the editor who was to blame…

mark’s harvest: 17 sept (even more pics)…

mark’s harvest: 17 sept – war and peace (text!)…

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 3, Weds 17th Sept 2014
(And a brief reprise to Sunday)

Typing this in the somnolent day 4 lunch break (i.e it’s the 18th today I know, I’m behind, but you try all this) when all I want to do is lie out and snooze like my fellow vendangeurs after a full lunch.

A just lovely morning again, if v hard work. The weather has been just beautiful this a.m. Once the sun got to work the early morning overcast disappeared quickly but just a bit more than a whispering breeze made life tolerable as we slaved away. Life’s good !

I’m supposed to be covering day 3, and M.Raphet on last Sunday afternoon, having run out of time last evening to send Bill more than just photos but may as well cover day 4 morning whilst fresh in the mind. We started by being personally selected into two groups. My small grouping, 13 strong including moi, and retired Colonel de l’Armee (honestly) Rene, the truck driver, went with domaine employee, Damian, a new guy to me this year, studious & friendly, but oddly an ex Bordeaux wine school pupil, to a parcel of Chambolle Village. All straight forward, nice grapes, no rot (at all), and once done and a chance for team photo taken, we set off back to rejoin the main group who were tackling a further high up section (across from Latricieres) of Charmes-Chambertin. We pile, in like the relieving cavalry from a western, to help finish off the rows in course. We then tackled some new rows as a full team, of really, really butch, lovely big bunches of grapes (sorry, it’s just an incredible norm). Water elevenses (well 10.30) after that, chance for a few photos then en vehicule (love the in vehicle rests !) weaving through the vines to what turned out to be a section of Mazoyeres down to the road. We were two to a row, always preferable for me (depending on my companion) with my colleague starting from the road upwards, me down slope. Now the bunches of grapes here were just an absolute joy to cut. They were generally large, uniform, well hung (for snipping easily I mean – no tittering at the back!) hence one could really get into a rhythm, little or nothing fiddly, interrupted only by having to very regularly empty the bucket into a porteur’s case. Not really a great morning to be a porteur, they were working really hard (dare I say for a change in some cases !). Lunch soon came around, with a self satisfied feeling of a morning’s work well done in almost idyllic circumstances. Am I enjoying this vendange like no other ! If only they were all like this. Have I said that per usual I’m the only English language speaker/Brit ? The way I like it ! Day 4 photos will be sent to Bill, all being well, tomorrow, the 19th with added account of a superb afternoon including a first time working in a particular GC for me – clue is starts with an E !

Sunday p.m – The former Domaine Jean Raphet premises are just off the Morey centre piece a vers Gevrey and next door to the Arlaud vendange accommodation. Guess I first got to know M Raphet Senior (assume he’s Jean but am not sure) to say ‘Bonjour, Ca va’ to etc etc from my first Arlaud vendange in 2008. He’s long retired I think and seemingly just potters about, as retired Burgundian vignerons do, with flat cap seemingly permanently attached to his head at a jaunty angle. My first ‘proper’ brush with him will live long in the memory & I think I mentioned it in a previous year’s Bill published piece. That ‘event’ was after the 2011 Arlaud vendange Paulee when, amazingly, he invited me and another into his home at c 10.30 in the morning for what turned out to be a degustation and a half. Stupidly we went, seemed rude not to, the only snag being my head already felt like the top was then coming off from the previous evening/night’s proceedings – as did my companion’s. We survived, exchanging pleasantries, whilst sampling various Morey treasures, some task ! Back to Sunday, as I was unloading my stuff he called me into his yard and we went through to his tasting room again – I think he was just bored and welcomed the chance for a chat etc and some company. I was happy to oblige as I like him a lot, and liked things a lot more when he got out a Raphet 2000 Clos de Vougeot. This was a ‘wow’ wine, really, felt like the best Burgundy I’d had this year but the occasion could have got to me ! It certainly had an amazing nose with secondary aromas/profile and was a silky, moreish, very long delight in the thirsty bouche. Conversation was a little stilted as he has no English at all and my French is limited, especially the way M Raphet talks ! We covered a few things like French politics (as you do), the weather (as you do), last year’s harvest travails, and he told me he retired after 40/50 years (forgotten exactly but think the latter) as a vigneron. His son I think now makes the wines in premises at the rear of the Morey Boucherie. Time flew with M Raphet, lubricated by the Vougeot (goodness it was good) until we’d drunk it all ! Am sure he plyed me with more than he had but eventually I got up to go asking him on a whim if I could have the empty bottle as a memento and could he autograph it for me – which he did. At this point he then reached for another (full bottle !) and pressed it on me despite my protestations, genuine (!), that I couldn’t possibly, or should pay him for it – which he would not hear of ! So, I staggered outside (bear in mind I d’d driven from NW England overnight to be met in the shared entrance by Herve Arlaud who took one look at me, the bottles, and M Raphet and burst out laughing – rather rude I thought lol  . And the vendange was only starting Monday (when once again my head was bouncing a little) !

Day 3. Good heavens, this waaaas something else, without any doubt AT ALL, THE BEST DAY or part thereof I’ve experienced, in this my now 7th vendange to date (ok, I’m a beginner compared to BN !). Its very hard to explain really why it was JUST so fabulous but it was. We started first thing in Clos St Denis. The sun came up as we worked the plot – one I’ve just always loved more than any other, can’t explain why – just a personal feeling thing. I’ve got a photo that I think has turned out rather well re the sun. Once again it was warm, everywere’s very dry underfoot which is good. I reckon we all enjoyed CSD, the grapes were (sorry!) just once again really stunning. I’ve never seen grapes like these in my Arlaud days to date. The old vines in CSD usually struggle for any sort of quantity, and what there is often small berries, millerandage etc etc. Not this year – it was a grape fest !

Onwards, could it get better ? There’s something about Bonnes Mares which has a special reverence for the Arlaud vendangeurs every year, even if the team changes a lot bar the regulars. It really seems to mean something to the locals, most of whom I guess will never own or drink a bottle ! This was another tremendous vineyard visit. Very much like CSD in terms of grapes to the usual and how (pics attached) – no rot. To complete the morning we moved in a rather circuitous route through the vines to Morey 1er Ruchots – another personal favourite, both terroir and wine. At a track junction we made way for a tractor and trailer. Driver looked familiar – indeed, Christophe Roumier. Think this is a man in love with his tractors as almost every time I see him it seems he’s in a tractor seat. Sure enough when we got to Ruchots and dismounted there were the Roumier team hard at it in Clos de la Bussiere. At first I thought, touchingly, the Roumier team had their children with them but only later did I realise, when I saw the crocodile of primary school age children, avec teacher, exiting Bussiere back towards Morey, that I must have been looking at a school field trip to experience the vendange – nice ! Boy, was it hot coming up to lunch in Ruchots. Its usually at least a bit damp in there, relatively low lying as it below road level, but it was remarkably pleasant under foot. Its also usually an escargot reserve and sure enough I saw one or two large examples.We didn’t finish before lunch so retreated and were joined back at base, unusually, by the triage team up for a joint lunch. Yet again, re Ruchots, I’ve got to say the grapes were just incredible to what I’ve known in four different years (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013). Both in quality, next to no rot that I saw, and once again , the remarkable quantity. Seems Morey at least is blessed in 2014. I also wondered to what extent Cyprien’s biodynamique drive of the last few years has paid off big time this year as a contributor. Can’t recall if I’ve mentioned before but the wild flowers, and the rose bushes at the head of vine rows, are all remarkable – not something I can ever recall being aware of before (or maybe its just me this year). I’ve also noticed plenty of insects; spiders particularly (not to excess though !), and just the odd coccinelle, plus caterpillar.

After the morning’s heady brilliance of sites and the produce from them the afternoon passed in a relatively low key manner. We came back and finished Ruchots, heat beating down on us still, then spent the rest of the afternoon doing firstly some Chambolle Village (Morey side) and then finishing c 18.00 hrs doing some Morey Village below the RN74, from my ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ Atlas, this was ‘Les Cognees’ although Arlaud don’t bottle as such. This was, and I’m really sorry to sound like a stuck record repetitive, remarkable also. Its not far from Bourgogne Roncevie, and low lying, one can usually anticipate rot as a given. Not this year ! The grapes from here were just a joy to pick – really wonderful fruit.

Evening brought more fun and pleasure. Cyprien, his wife Carol (Carole ?), and their three young daughters joined us for the evening meal. Also present, as a considerable, if nice, shock to me (as in not expecting to see her for a moment), was Madame Phylloxera, my 2011 vendange best friend, Anissa B invited for dinner by Herve (the madame bit a joke name I gave her as she so amused me in how she pronounced the P word) . More of Anissa in a mo but Cyprien and I got talking, from me just how fantastically special the morning had been. To my surprise he effusively agreed, becoming almost animated which is v rare for his normally quiet, reflective, deep thinking usual self. Vigneron and his British vendangeur were at one in adoring what our morning’s experience of CSD, Bonnes-Mares, and Morey Ruchots had been. He gave me, without blinking, verbally some numbers of yield averages for recent past years, and then yields for the above sites for this year (INSERT IF CAN GET AGAIN) . Anissa had been working for the last few years in the Paris shop, Lavinia, as a sommelier but told me she was passing through her parents Chambolle home en route to a new sales role with some Languedoc/ Provence negociant. We reminisced happily over all that amused us both in 2011 and events such as the tasting we went to, post vendange, with the always great value Alex Gambal (must call post vendange this year).

And so to bed after a wondrous day. What could Day 4 bring ? Well, maybe not quite so amazing but pretty good – to be continued !!!

Burgundy Harvest: 19 Sept 2014…

DSC05012Ouf – plenty of action today!

We started at about 09h45 with Santenay Clos Rousseau, The lost were a little variable – a lot of what we had before lunch (it was a big pick) needed to triage a little rot but more often, fruit that was a little unripe – there was no signs of hail and no dried berries. By 11h00 it was raining and got steadily heavier over the next hours – it didn’t stop until about 15h30. Actually in Santenay it was more like a storm and our pickers had to stop – they will probably be back tomorrow for more Santenay villages…

We didn’t break for lunch until close to 14h00, but there was plenty for even the biggest appetites – my 2012 Chezeaux/Ponsot Griotte was nice enough, but it was rather ripe and seemed to tail off a little too quickly – it was easy to drink, but honestly less interesting that the home domaine’s 2011 Pommard 1er Clos Vergers – honestly! Not a patch on the Clos St.Denis of a couple of days ago…

Feeling full, back to the triage table 1 hour later. Wow! these last pallets of Clos Rousseau are super – they are just flying across the triage table. Now we were ready for the Charmes-Chambertin ;-) We have had grapes from the same grower since 2006, and they are not known a) for their triage at the vine, or b) the cleanest of fruit – but today – brilliant, the best I’ve ever seen from them – ever! The table ran faster, there was virtually no rot to cut, just the removal of a forest of leaves and some unripe clusters – I was very impressed. The grapes were not the smallest I’ve ever seen, indeed some of the cases had quite big berries – always on the ‘shoulders’ see image – but I’m pretty sure we’d take them every year. And there was no acetic rot like our Gevrey villages.

Okay, it was now 18h30 and just time for a quick coffee, before attacking our last grapes of the day – Bourgogne from a vineyard in Premeaux. For the first time this vintage, we ran the table at full-speed – and not just because it was Bourgogne – it was pretty-much rot free, again just a little under-ripe fruit to sort out. The grapes were rather large, but I assume the clones in a BR vineyard are not chosen for the tiniest bunches they can produce! Anyway, we were fully equipped at the table (6 pairs of hands) but it was quite easy for us – unlike the guy who had to keep changing the bin under the de-stemmer ;-)

Triage finishes at 19h45 – yipee! Lucky that we could run the Bourgogne so fast and that we hadn’t picked all the Santenay, otherwise we would have been at the table beyond 21h00!

Burgundy Harvest: 19 Sept 2014 (prelude)…

I was running through the vines between 19h00 and 20h00 yesterday, and in the twilight, I noted a couple of picking machines in the vines – the first on the flat (Bourgogne) behind the old railway station of Pommard, but the second seemed to me to be in Beaune 1er Les Montrevenots. The first thing that crossed my mind was – are they afraid of the light? But judging by the fruit I’ve triaged this week (so-far) this is probably as good as any vintage to do this – the dry stuff will mainly fall in the vineyard – so half the triage is done, the skins are decently thick and there’s not too much botrytis. Still, it wouldn’t be my choice, but I’m surprised it works better in the dark…

It was too early for bed once showered, so I headed to the bright lights of Beaune for a glass. It turned out to be 2 glasses as the heavens opened and we were ‘treated’ to a fabulous light show, load thunder and some heavy rain – I home the machine pickers were in bed!

mark’s harvest: 17 sept (pics)…

Burgundy Harvest 18 September 2014…

So – what reason to open a bottle today? Hmm – well, on this day in 1635 Emperor Ferdinand II declared war on France – seems a good enough reason!

I bought these direct from the domaine after tasting from barrel in 2003, but there was a mistake – the labels may have said Petits-Monts, but the (correct!) cork said Malconsorts. So I had to buy 6 more Petits-Monts as I didn’t want to give these Malconsorts back – despite having 6 of those too! Well, after more than 10 years in the cellar, I’d no idea if this was a Malconsorts or PM – it turned out to be Malconsorts.

2002 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Malconsorts
I’ve drunk about 4 or 5 of these since they were purchased and this is, by a long way, the least interesting. The nose has fine width, something of the spiciness of Vosne, but it hovers close to brett, or even a hint of oxidation – but the cork looks perfect. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, rather direct but well-balanced. The finish rolls-off just a little too quickly. I had a second (decent-sized) glass, but overall, I thought this wine not up to standard…
Rebuy – No

Rain was forecast for late-on yesterday. I saw a few flashes of lightning in the sky about 21h00, but none came to Beaune. Today we have no clouds and it’s forecast to pass 25°C in the afternoon.

Today is a quiet day at the home domaine – yet a bit of pre-lunch excitement at the only grapes of the day: Corton-Charlemagne.

They tasted great. Just like the reds of Côte de Beaune, close to zero rot – I saw one piece in 4 pallets-worth of fruit. There were some dried grapes – perhaps due to hail, but none that were split like you’d see in hailed pinot. This required only the most cursory of triage – just to remove the leaves – we even left the occasional cluster of pinot for good luck – well, its grand cru too.

Then all into the press. It was a long, 3-4 hour press – but not too hard – before the juice was run into a stainless-steel tank. The juice will stay in the tank overnight before being run into barrel tomorrow…

Burgundy Harvest 17 September 2014…

The plastic ‘cork’ now says Très Vieilles-Vignes, though the label says Vieilles-Vignes – they were 100 years-old in 2005. Anyway, life may have moved on, but today was the 26th anniversary of me getting married – so a good excuse for a nice bottle!

2012 Chézeaux (Ponsot), Clos St.Denis
Wow! This is deeply coloured. The nose is not über demonstrative but is fine and complex, darkly fruited and smooth – it’s ripe but safely avoids ‘over-ripe.’ Ouf! This is really mouth-filling and silky – but super-concentrated in the mid-palate – real 2012 heft from there into the finish. Very, very, very long on a stony and mildly mineral note. It’s very hard to find the tannin here, such is the extract of buffering fruit. Simply exceptional!
Rebuy – Yes

Ah-yes – the harvest! Well, my back made a miraculous recovery for the morning session – Diclofenac-mediated – so onwards!

Starting at 09h00 with Beaune 1er Les Cras we had better grapes, on average, than yesterday’s Beaune Les Avaux – still hailed of-course, but the ‘clusters’ left behind much of their dried berries whilst passing across the vibrating table. On the whole another good result despite the low yield. Next we had Biodynamic Ladoix – and what lovely grapes – very, very little botrytis here. For the first time we could speed up our triage table. Just a few ladybirds noted under the vibrating table, but none on the triage table itself – maybe this is now becoming part of terroir, assuming you are Biodynamic ;-)

The advantage of working the harvest at a négoce is that, not only do you get to see grapes from almost every village up and down the Côte d’Or, you get to see the fruits from different growers (and their different approaches) too. There are some vineyard/grower combinations that you really anticipate – not necessarily for the same reasons though – today we had both!!! First up, Santenay 1er cru which is always scruffy and full of botrytis – it usually takes an inordinate amount of time to triage – but today, wow, it was beautiful. The level of rot easily the equal of 2005, maybe even less. I was amazed. The other I was looking forward to is the villages Vosne-Romanée Vieilles-Vignes – as always, this was simply wonderful stuff. You can see from the photo that (on the right) the average grape size was much larger than the Facebook bunch to the left – the smaller bunch being much closer in size to 2010. Again we were able to make 50% whole clusters with this raw material – and at top speed on our triage table too.

We had the same quantity (volume) of grapes today, as yesterday, but we were already finished at 19h15 – such is the difference when triage is not laborious…

I’m trying to think when we last had such low levels of rot – just botrytis, so ignoring the acetic stuff – it’s better than Côte de Beaune 2011, and I think only 2005 was better than that (since 2004). Very impressive!

And my back – well, let’s just say that it’s nice to sit down and type this :-)

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