Arlaud Vendange Day Eight – Monday, 10th Sept 2018
Another day, a week in from our start, another day of Roncevie ☹ ! My original recollection some days after was that we finished entirely/at last in Roncevie by lunchtime but my photo timings remind we actually went on to circa 15.00 hrs before finally being ‘done’ here for another year. Otherwise, from morning start to conclusion it was just row pass after row pass. The fruit though, in the higher (higher meaning towards/just below the road) parts of Roncevie we were now in was pretty darn good (see photos), amongst the best in size & appearance I could recall from anywhere. The sun and heat continued, to be my stand out feature of this vendange. I can recall other pretty warm/hot vendange weather conditions (2009, 2015 ?) but this year seemed ‘something else’. Unremarkably this diminishing element of Roncevie continued to, and after, lunch but ultimately we finally finished as above with a decent rest break before departing. I can recall it was by now seriously hot and, whilst not sure about the others, by now I was seriously fatigued.
A couple of ‘side notes’ before detailing the rest of our afternoon. Firstly, on either the Saturday or Sunday late morning (cant recall which now), whilst we were working near the road a convoy of noisy, hooting, vehicles with large pink flags being vigorously waved from windows etc and shouty occupants passed us heading south. I was bemused but deduced from the comments of others this related to some political grouping, presumably on the way to a rally or just demonstrating. I’ve no idea what political party/group were passing us but one of our number was a young guy, a regular in recent years, always friendly with me, also called Mark (maybe whilst I’m universally referred to as Marko). I’m not sure what started it but the passing of the noisy convoy prompted a most unusual impassioned & argumentative debate some rows away from me which involved my namesake, seemingly on his own with his views (pro or anti the convoy I’ve no idea) against a number of the others. Matters seemed to get heated quite quickly (I kept my head down having no idea what it was all about & sensing I didn’t really want to know !) but, as threatening to continue and cause real discord, Climent authoritatively stepped in, shouting to Mark to essentially ‘Shut Up’. Calm descended but we didn’t see Mark again for the rest of the vendange – whether he re-appears next year we’ll see. Politics eh ?
The other side note relates to a new vendangeur to the Group, whom I think started today having worked elsewhere, who quickly made her presence ‘felt’ as a source of amusement which became almost a feature of the vendange – in fact in the latter stages it was !!! This girl/lady was known as Marie (she can be seen nearest to the camera on the back row of the photo captioned ‘My Sprinter Van crew end of day 10092018’). I initially, actually for a day or two, thought Marie to be Portuguese or Spanish from appearance but was stunned in due course to learn she was/is Japanese – yet another from what seems quite a Dijon population from Japan who have been living there some years. Kaito, for example, who started cutting with us before moving to the triage table, had told me she’d lived in Dijon 8 years and outside the vendange had a full-time job as a patisserie chef at a Dijon Japanese restaurant. To digress for a second Kaito has an impressive vendange history of which I’m extremely jealous !!! She has worked previously at Dujac for a couple of years but also 3 years at Rousseau – one day with us wearing a red 2016 Rousseau vendange t shirt. Kaito also told me Marie had done administration work previously at Rousseau. Anyway, back to Marie, she has an endearing & distinctive way of talking which I can only think to best describe as ‘sing song’. This aside though what made her talking, which at times seemed non stop chatter to be heard many rows away, notable was her unwitting ‘catch phrase’ which was taken up by many others and was undoubtedly the ultimate catch phrase of the Arlaud vendange. This was “Oooh la la” !!! I’ve no idea where she got this from but it was a feature of her chatter & quickly caused much amusement amongst the rest of the team and was taken on by quite a few for their own purposes and mimicking Marie in friendly fashion. In the initial stages of her joining us Marie was working with Porteur Nico. Nico is a great guy & one of the best porteurs I’ve worked with in 9 years. It was quickly apparent, with no malice aforethought that Nico was encouraging Marie’s chatter, and particularly her use of ‘Oooh la la’. All very funny and whilst I slightly worried at Marie being upset by the mimicking, amusement etc she never showed any signs and took it all in good heart. I even found myself succumbing to an odd ‘Oooh la la’ to myself to apply to a suitable situation.
From Roncevie we moved initially to the first of two additional plots to be tackled for the remainder of the afternoon. The first of these was the most seriously unpleasant cutting experience I had through the whole vendange – horrible, frustrating, and just what one didn’t need after three quarters of a day of Roncevie in mega heat. This location was our second and final bite at Morey Clos Solon. Arlaud have two parcels in Clos Solon- one I know is negoce, the other I think they own but am not sure about. We’d done the higher of the two plots of course on Day 5 which was wholly unlike the horror that was coming. Before disembarking as we arrived on the track which goes thro Clos Solon Herve had to brake slightly/unexpectedly as a young dog (large gambolling puppy really – all floppy legs and ears) of long legged bull terrier like breed crossed in front of our van back towards the truck of another domaine already there just by us. The older gentleman with the truck admonished the dog which flopped into the shade between two rows of vines. I enquired which domaine this dog was accompanying but couldn’t pick up the response. Once out of our van and equipped with my gear as always a dog lover I looked for & found the dog who came out of his shade to greet me, twisting himself with pleasure at my greeting & stroking him. I picked him up with some difficulty as he was a growing boy to receive a squirming loving face wash for my trouble. Called to start I put him back in his shady place with a final pat or two intending to return to him later for a photo or two – as it happened ‘his’ domaine people subsequently moved higher up the plot and him with them, so no doggy photos.
Clos Salon Part Deux – what a bar steward (pardon me) this was. Blimey. When I mentioned it later to full time domaine employee and fellow bucket washer Cedric he surprised me with his own agreeing vehemence, saying en francais he detested it – so I was not alone ! The issues ? Different type of Pinot clone here me thinks but the vines were low, the leaf growth the heaviest I’d seen anywhere or could recall for a while which made ‘normal’ leaf stripping inadequate, small & infrequent bunches of often well hidden fruit, and difficult ‘presentation’ of fruit which didn’t accord with normal vine training pattern, all of which made picking one’s way through this ‘jungle’ a flippin nightmare. Doubtless due to fatigue I was having one of those times when, after I had cut a bunch of grapes, I constantly seemed to miss getting it into the bucket – either the fruit going straight onto the ground or bouncing off the rim of the bucket. Frustration, curses and grim determination took me to the end of my row near the road and, boy, was I glad to be out of there after that. Suffice to say no photos from Clos Solon – I had other things on my mind !
Things could only get better (as the D:Ream song says) and thank goodness they did with a plot of Morey Village ‘below’ the road although, sorry, I can’t just now remember exactly where this was & thus identify it by name. At least I think it was Morey Village but it wasn’t Clos Solon or En Seuvrey. Refreshingly as the day was now heading to a conclusion the fruit here was really nice and also straightforward to cut.
Can’t recall if I made one of my several trips to Beaune this evening but, if this evening wasn’t one of them, an example of the day’s heat on one evening occasion was my car’s dashboard reading 29.5 degrees Centigrade and that at 18.45 p.m. evening – which makes one wonder what the peak temps might have been that same afternoon. We had two days in the latter stages of the vendange were the peak temps were certainly over 30 degrees Centigrade.
And so onwards to Day 9 – a Vosne Village morning and local Bourgogne Rouge to come. I should add that by now, with it clear there must be a limited number of sites for us to go to, there was occasional ‘gossip’ as to when we might be totally finished – suggestions, depending whom one spoke to, of 2-4 days to go – all will be revealed how many !
Marko de Morey 25/09/2018