Arlaud Vendange Day 5, Wednesday 28th Sept 2016
Day started early with my taking my car down to VW Ladoix to leave with them to fit a new left side rear window to replace the temporary and not very fetching cardboard and tape. Daniel (Le Carp) followed me down there in Serge’s Touran to fetch me back. I was of course too late back to get out start wise to the vines with the rest of the gang so we went to the cuverie as Daniel’s place of work & for me to await the arrival of one of the camions with first cut fruit to hitch a ride back to wherever the action was. Sure enough Rene rocked up and once he’d unloaded we got back to Chambolle Village terroir, if nearer Morey than C-M. Another stunning, sunny, clear blue sky, day weather wise in prospect. We moved around 4 or 5 plots of C-M Village through the morning. Mix of fruit dependant on which plot, or even which vine, but the good was looking very good, akin to Morey Clos Solon from the day before. Saw my first of many large snails attached to a vine who’s fruit I was dealing with – they all turned out to be same shades of dark brown with cream stripe. Serge later told me they are highly prized in Poland – well, the Poles are welcome to them. My one and only escargot (cooked) experience is not one I’d rush to repeat. We finished the morning close to the nearest to Chambolle back corner of Roumier’s Clos de la Bussiere. Another domaine were embarking on their transport close by – Herve told me it was the H Lignier team.
After lunch came a bit of a shock – back to Roncevie yet AGAIN ! Well, I suppose this is a fact of life when the domaine has circa 5 ha. I did finally believe after this latest effort, which lasted longer than Tuesday’s post lunch Roncevie session, that we’ve finally now ‘done’ with Roncevie but can I say that with confidence ? Errr, no, we’ll see.
What came next though, if not for the rest of the afternoon, was just the real deal tremendous. Our post Roncevie destination was Gevrey 1er ‘Combottes’ and its aged vines chez Arlaud. Wow, wow, wow ! This was just seriously impressive in every way. Maybe not the ultimate max volume but appeared very useful and, as usual, with this Combottes a real mix of type of grapes from millerandage variety (always a feature here) to the full & voluptuous. Just a joy to pick here, any fatigue thoughts banished. We were doubled up two folk to a row, one at the bottom, one starting half way up. I managed to wangle a mid row start to ensure I ended up at the patch of grass ‘summit’ at the top of the parcel. We must have collectively kept the porteurs pretty busy in volume terms as there were a couple of fullish crates at the top and I stumbled out of my row with a full bucket looking for a home. Short break only for a drink (water !) and Herve moved us along a ways towards Clos de la Roche to work our way down some separate Combottes rows back to the road & our vehicles. Again little or no other domaine activity round and about – very odd but for my part I’m very comfortable Cyprien has got his timing right. Some of the smaller bunches detached with ease and the larger bunches looked pretty ripe to me.
I can’t really get my head around what’s been happening to date but am quickly getting there ! What I mean here is that, prior to coming out, pretty much most things I’d read or heard were what a disastrous year this is/would be. I get that for parts of the Cote de Beaune no problem, as Christine Dubreuil had outlined, and then had ‘evidence’ for my own eyes of the frost damaged parts of Roncevie (not all though), other plots of Bourgogne Rouge, and the Aligote – the latter not producing anything like I’ve seen in other good or not so good years. However, the fruit of Echezeaux was a first sighter of what has since emerged / continues to emerge, even though volume there was markedly down (I’ll get a figure from Cyprien if I think on). Once we moved away from the ‘base’ appellation stuff and flat lands though things (on the slopes) have improved immeasurably e.g Clos Solon yesterday, Chambolle Village this morning, and now jaw droppingly Combottes. My experience of so called lesser vintages is that Combottes, or the bottom part particularly, is always prone to some rot or mildew etc but all looked encouragingly good now.
If Combottes was not enough our ‘cup then overfloweth’ as Herve led us, en pied, almost like a school children’s outing, along the roadside grass verge from Combottes to one of ‘the Daddies’ – Clos de la Roche (further than it looks !). Before I forget, here I’d better mention the pics I’ll be sending to Bill taken from around midday onwards have come out rather ‘dark’. As always will be up Bill what he prefers to ‘publish’ & maybe he considers they will be too ‘dark’ but it was only when I came to download them did I realise something was amiss. It turned out both the settings ‘wheels’ on top of my Canon G16 had inadvertently been moved from the default auto settings hence the ‘dark’ shots – a crying shame & frustrating. I was ‘brushed’ by a porteur with case on his back just before lunch and my uncovered camera (looped around my neck/shoulder so that I can keep it on my back out of usual harm’s way whilst cutting) I can only think might have taken a brush also – on which basis maybe I was lucky there was nothing more serious.
Clos de la Roche (‘CdlR’) well, cor blimey guv, from this proud Lancastrian was just the male pooch nether regions. Gobsmackingly beautiful looking ripe fruit and lots of it. The best yet ? Who knows, bit different from Combottes which maybe had more ‘finesse’ from millerandage etc but for me the CdlR grapes, in my row anyway (always that caveat), were breathtakingly, jaw droppingly fantastic. Note to self think about CdlR as a 2016 must have – acknowledging the wine has to be ‘made’ yet. This just lifted the end of the day spirits for me to a very special place despite my inevitable fatigue. Trudging back to the Jumpy, stripping off knee pads and single left hand glove, looking up CdlR slope to in the sunshine all of a sudden the world, or my world, was a very special, ‘lifted’, place. I’m a lucky (59 yr old) boy to be doing this and with great people. Be anywhere else ? No thanks, this is the best.
Subsequently I quizzed cuverie located Basile on how our afternoon efforts went down. To no great surprise he confirmed, grinning that Basile behind the specs grin, that Cyprien was very happy (he should be) but to my alternative surprise advised Cyp preferred the Combottes grapes.
What a just cracking day though, superb. Onto day 6, could D5 be surpassed, yes, actually/amazingly it could – stay tuned pop burg pickers!