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mark’s vosne harvest – day 4

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Four, Sun 22nd Sept 2019

Whither today ? A Chambolle morning then an afternoon with a real ‘sting in the tail’, if not a transformative moment for our vendange. Photos morning only, the absence of any from the afternoon will become clearer later !

Our second day with Jean-Claude2 filling in for the Lyon fleshpots absent Gilles. On this once more super morning of sunshine and restrained temperatures we were Chambolle Village bound again to similar, or the same, location we’d visited previously, just more rows. In essence, an unremarkable steady, hard working morning. Team J-C2/Gilles were initially selected by Hubert for an hillside elevated section of vines not far from the top of the slope, and as the hill started to curve around back towards Musigny etc. These vines were notable for being across slope, rather than up/down, and as such brought fond recollection of Arlaud’s Vosne Petit-Monts vines. After we’d finished our own specific ‘patch’ we worked downslope to meet/join another team coming up which took us ‘neatly’ to a circa 9.40 a.m. break.

After finishing the above we spent the rest of the morning, albeit getting there by only short walks first on tarmac then earth path into the vines, as best I can recall working quite different areas of vines, on essentially flat(er) land from those on the slopes we’d had two go’s at. I’m really struggling to identify now just where these latter vines might be, map wise. They were the other side of the road i.e just to the north of where we’d been but a little back on ourselves. ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ almost suggests we could have been in a Chambolle 1er cru but I can’t think we were so we must have been in the quaintly named ‘Les Pas de Chats’, or possibly ‘Les Barrottes’. Assuming I return to Noellat in 2020 I must then make an effort to identify exactly the locations we visit (beyond the obvious Grand & Premier crus) & perhaps spend some brief time with Alain or Sophie and ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ to get a handle on domaine vines locations. Mind, it some me some years to be ‘up to speed’ with Arlaud’s sites, and that with Herve always being helpful in answering my questions. The domaine’s website is no help in location of vines, even clicking in to the detail of each wine made. However, late afterthought that Bill might include detail has had me belatedly look back at BR’s domaine profile and tasting notes, one reference noting a little 1er cru for the Chambolle cuvee. If that indeed is the case then maybe we went to a bit of Les Feusselottes or perhaps Les Plantes ? Coming away from our late morning location I ‘snapped’ another unknown domaine’s yet to be picked Pino as we strolled past. Earlier as we’d come out of one section, crossing the tarmac road to another, we met two quite different ladies with a young boy on his scooter. These two ladies were adorned in vine leaf Roman like head adornments (fascinators the fashion term ?) and in very jolly mood. They were headed towards Chambolle but where they’d come from & quite why they had the ‘creations’ on their heads I’m totally unsure – a brief, amusing, diversion though !

Back to Vosne ! Lunch must have been unremarkable as no recall of it or photos, nor can I remember seeing a door affixed menu. Afternoon took us to Nuits Villages vines (Vosne side) – more towards Nuit than our Boudots and Aux Barrieres locations of Day 2. Possibly Aux Allots initially. Long rows so more slogging. I meant to mention when commencing typing re this day that there had been talk amongst my co-workers of the weather forecast suggesting rain, if not during the day then felt to be more probable for evening or overnight. Certainly the Chambolle morning and its ideal, sunny, conditions gave no inkling of any major weather deterioration to come. We moved on from our initial location(s) to another (village) location much nearer to Nuits than before, almost into the outskirts – perhaps La Petite Charmotte or La Charmotte. As the afternoon had moved on I could not help but notice the absence of the morning sunshine and gradually gathering/darkening cloud – particularly over the Combe behind NSG.

I think it must have been sometime after 15.30 that (fortunately) not too far down our latest NSG Villages rows, and not too far away from the vehicles on the road above us, that we felt the just occasional first large drops of rain. From then on it was only a matter of time and, with shocking suddenness, not only did almost semi-darkness descend but rain started to fall properly. There was no hesitation from whomever shouted at us to get outta there and get to the vehicles, and t’was a mighty good job we didn’t delay ! I’ve seen it ‘rain’ before several times in previous vendanges but this was ‘proper’ !! Trust me, it wasn’t far up our rows, and back to the vehicles, but in the short time it took us all to leg it there, what started as ‘rain’ turned into a storm & deluge of Noahesque biblical proportions ! If I’d seen people or animals going in two by two I might not have been surprised ! It was every man & woman for themselves, and in the case of our minibus at least, as the vehicle on its right hand side was parked tight to vines, several of us in our scrambling fell/tripped over the vines end of row wire, not exactly visible in semi-darkness, haste, rain deluge etc – which could be painful !! I know I tripped trying to throw myself into the front seat, not badly fortunately, and also saw Jean-Philippe, Jacques and Francoise all do similarly. By the time we were all in the minbus, panting to get our breath back, with the vehicle rapidly steaming up with hot bodies and wetness, it really had got dark, some thunder & lightning was evident, and good grief, WAS IT lashing down !!!! As ‘good’ as a storm I’ve seen in Burgundy in my harvest career. It was difficult to make out Nuits not too far away but lights were coming on.

We sat there a while, not too long, before somehow/someone communicated, phone call I think, that we call it a day and return to base ! Could not have been a difficult decision as one didn’t need to be a meteorogical genius to work out the lashing curtains of water weren’t going to stop anytime soon ! Our initial route, given the way we were facing, and as it turned out Hubert in the lead was heading initially for Nuits before taking a mainly concrete road back through the vines to Vosne, took us past the vendangeurs of another domaine who’d been a little beyond us. They were still out there, ok at first glance many of them seemed appropriately dressed, but goodness me it seemed recklessly crazy given the thunder and lightning. I assume they were just collecting what they’d picked and would soon be out of there !

The route back to Vosne was amazing in terms of the water on the road, gushing across it and coming down. The concrete road sections are a longitudinal v shaped gully with high edges, the latter I reckon to hold back vineyard soil erosion but the water in the centre of the road ‘v’ was incredible.

Back in Vosne, we ran for cover to the garage with gear for cleaning whilst outside the storm continued. Heavy rain lasted well into the evening, and ‘lesser’ weight of rain all night. Evening is gone from any memory, weather aside. Guess I was probably on laptop photo downloading, editing etc but, just ahead of our evening meal, I do recall a group playing tarot with my being invited to play but declining (wouldn’t have had a clue !). Jean-Philippe seemed a novice at the game, but Alain Noellat as not initially playing, although seemingly something of an ‘expert, was very keen to proffer advice to J-P and re-arrange his hand of cards !

The end then of a ‘climatic’ day. Maybe a defining one for our vendange in terms of conditions i.e days pre storm/post storm. Hereafter ground conditions would be much changed muddy/sticky with consequent effects on us, our footwear, buckets etc etc. Where would tomorrow take us ? We’ll see!

mark’s vosne harvest – day 3

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Three, Sat 21st Sept 2019

Into our third day and routines becoming well established and, for me, working practices clearer – if I approved or not !

For the Gilles sub team the weekend saw a departure – that of the porteur/chauffeur man himself – to Lyon to stay with one of his daughters, to return for Monday. As a substitute we had my room mate, Jean-Claude No2, if I can call him that to differentiate from his more forthright associate – Jean Claude No1 being the leader of another sub team, the tee shirt modeller from the Day One photos and our room through the night snorer. J-C2 is a quietly spoken, semi-reserved, no edge on him, pleasant guy so I was pleased to see him ‘lent’ to us for the weekend in a leadership role, notwithstanding this was his first vendange.

My neck was still extremely painful despite ibuprofen and pain relief gel. I also continued in my spectacles figuring I’d give my right eye a rest for several days then try the lenses again. Coffee first thing was always on machine free flow in our dining ‘shed’, with teabags/kettle if different brew preferred. Food was available but I never investigated exactly what as I’m always content with just a Cadburys breakfast bar (other bars are available !), particularly knowing a casse-croute break was to come idc.

So, where to today ? With J-C2 in the driver’s seat for us our convoy headed out of Vosne in the same direction as we’d taken yesterday to Vougeot. We didn’t get that far this time as GC Echezeaux was our destination – not unfamiliar to me as Arlaud had a few rows here from 2013 inclusive as one of the ‘& Arlaud’ offerings Cyprien took on from that infamous, difficult year (other than the NSG 1er Porrets which featured in 2012). I’m pretty certain we were now in Echezeaux du Dessus. Lovely morning again, sun coming up, and not a cloud in the sky. Our first rows, nice looking grapes bar odd dodgy bunch, took us uneventfully to the casse-croute break just after 9.30 a.m. The dogs were with us again, now as an established feature – but no chocolate titbits from me so’s I could avoid unwarranted abuse & poisoning accusations ! Instead, and never fancying the charcuterie myself, I let others give the dogs bits of fat etc. I confined myself happily to bread and cheese, with just water as the drink in my ‘meal deal’ ! Today’s casse-croute break seemed a little drawn out so, becoming a little bored, I wandered along the vineyard road we were on just some yards north towards Vougeot. I was then utterly amazed to realise I was looking at the Arlaud rows from past years, readily identifiable from the white (as Arlaud use) daubed marker post and heavy sleepers containing the soil to the start of one row where the land fell away slightly. Quite some coincidence – if the Arlaud rows weren’t directly next to Noellat’s they were only separated by a few !

Anyway, we continued post break with the remaining Ech rows but at some early juncture there was something of an amused commotion leading to us standing up. This was on account of one of the other sub teams, notable for including the leading lights from lunchtime singing, having dressed up in Gilet-Jaune uniform !!!! This was highly amusing, although I never established what prompted it. I was much taken/amused by one of the guys even including a ‘fetching’ dayglo yellow hat with ear flaps to enhance the gilet jaune ! Once we’d all exited our completed rows I grabbed quick opportunity to photo the G-J team.

From Echezeaux we took a short drive past Musigny and Les Amoureuses before turning left towards Chambolle, but almost immediately took another road left through the vines where we parked up to tackle an upslope piece of Chambolle Village – and very nice aspect up hill it had too with track and trees/shrubs to the top. I’ve spent some time looking closely at my ‘Climats & Lieux-Dits’ bible (everyone remotely interested in Burgundy should have a copy imho) to try to work out which vines we were picking in. Initially, but mistakenly, I thought we were in ‘Les Pas de Chats’ (across the road from Les Feusselottes’) but I was looking at the wrong road, instead our vehicles were parked at the edge of the next road south. Thus, I reckon we must have picked in either Les Gueripes or Les Foucheres or both.

Very pleasant in whatever terroir it was, with my sub team cruising efficiently ahead of the others up to lunch. In fact I, and I think it was Donna, with joint exquisite timing, actually had just picked the very last vine at the top of our designated rows as the call came to cease for lunch. Quite a coincidence, and similar was to happen to me on my own that afternoon in a section of Fixin Village. No photos of lunch taken today ! I must have been concentrating hard on my nosh !

Onto the afternoon and no photos taken either, sorry ! Typing this back in the UK post vendange (and a little stupidly not having scribbled just outline reminder notes as has been my practice previously) I’ve been falling back in part on my photos to remind of our itineraries/locations etc. When no photos have featured this is generally a sign of a few influencers e.g I’ve not been enthused/excited enough by location etc to prompt camera use, or; the weather has been bad enough to prevent me getting the camera out etc etc. For this 3rd day p.m. we journeyed to a particularly flat, low on the ‘slope’, uninspiring piece of Fixin Village (without getting close to the village proper some way ahead) we were to come to more than once. Its lower edge was a public road with residential dwellings on the other side. I can only think now we must have been, most likely, in ‘En Clomee’ – if not there then am not sure ! Exciting it wasn’t though, and the rows long. Bit hard to see why it might be designated ‘village’ other than, say, Bourgogne Rouge. Fruit was ok, no issues there, but the afternoon was a bit of a physical slog, for me notable only that, as mentioned above, I again just happened to finish my row, a little way ahead of others, coinciding with the c 18.00 hrs call to end the day. I cursed gently to myself thinking that if we came back to take up & finish where the others had left off I’d probably ‘suffer’ as having finished my row ! Maybe a lesson for me I can hear some of you thinking !

So, good day, both of the domaine Grand Crus dealt with, along with NSG Aux Boudots, but absolutely no sign/mention of us heading to the domaine’s premier crus, Morey’s 1er Clos Sorbes, Savigny or Pommard. Instead, for now, we seemed to be on a CdN Villages fest but I told myself it had only been Day 3. I recall it might have been this day’s lunchtime that I managed, pre lunch, to ask Madam Isabel Noellat about use of the domaine wi-fi and in her ever helpful, nothing too much trouble, way she’d printed off a page of A4 from her bureau computer which had all sorts of password details, and other IT related saved reference details – which, for me, had the extremely long wi-fi router key of numbers and letters. The evening of Day 4 was to be the start of my attempted log on frustrations !!!

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