Arlaud Vendange Day Four Thurs 6th Sept
I should belatedly, apologies, start with an apology for an absence of as it happened ‘material’ from 2017’s harvest. The lack of words and photos was not, believe me, for want of trying to get such to Bill. The photos were taken as usual but the issues were twofold and related to what was then my longstanding Sony Vaio laptop ‘giving up the ghost’ and before that I had inordinate trouble with my Hotmail, reasons never established or understood (but such have not re-occurred since. It was all highly frustrating at the time with my spending several bits of evening at the cuverie trying to sort matters out. Matters were all the more frustrating as April 2017 I’d bought a new i7 laptop but had chosen to leave it at home for family (who never used it), not foreseeing the Vaio issues.
Anyway, another day, routine now firmly established, and we’ve already done most of the best sites with the exception of those Vosne related and our destinations this morning. First off was the domaine’s second parcel of Charmes-Chambertin Haut. This is a little further along towards Gevrey than that first parcel we picked on Monday the 3rd, and is just past & across the road from the stone gateway (Remy ?) to Latricieres. If anyone fancies themselves at identifying the Arlaud vines the rows at each end of any parcel have posts marked with an area of white paint maybe a foot deep. Other domaines do similar with different colours or tieing something to their posts. The latest Charmes grapes were every bit as nice as those from the earlier parcel, just some minor individual grape issues which could be easily dealt with by the table de trie. By c9.30 a.m we’d finished the Charmes and decamped lower to Mazoyeres but before tackling the latter we refuelled with casse-croute, coffee and water. I’m still disbelieving of the casse-croute !!!! In the past the Mazoyeres has seemed a real slog for me with long rows but this year it all seemed relatively easy – I can only think our numbers made it so – good !
From Mazoyeres another relatively short move to Morey 1er cru Les Blanchards. We always ‘do’ this going upslope towards the village and the Cosson premises. The start point is maybe half way between village and the RN74. I’ve always liked Blanchards, as a site, to pick, and as a wine – it being my preferred Morey 1er cru after Ruchots. In past (good) years Blanchards as produced a hefty weight of fruit and large, heavy, pendulous bunches. The fruit this year, whilst super clean and attractive, wasn’t though of such a volume as sometimes seen previously. I was allocated the outside row on the right hand side and set to whilst the others were being set up by Climent who definitely has a much greater in the vines direction/management role this year and seems to have superceded Damian who it appeared might have been Herve’s possible successor. I like both Climent and Damian, and have a great deal of time for them both but I had had my doubts previously at Damian’s wanting, or being suited, to a leadership/management role and it seems I was not alone. Damian I see as someone who prefers to work hands on & with machinery, seemingly well suited in this respect. His role for this vendange, other than at the cuverie at the end of the day, has been taking the fruit cases from the porteurs onto one of the flat bed trucks and shutting backwards and forwards to the cuverie. We have 3 flat bed trucks this year, Damian and colleagues taking on the former lorry roles undertaken for years by the Besancon twosome, Rene (ex French Army Colonel) and Serge. Neither Rene, Serge, nor the third of the trio, Daniel, have made the vendange this year. I believe Rene has decided he’d had enough but Serge has had some health issue although his return next year has been mentioned. Back to my row of Blanchards I was making good progress but it seemed, probably because I started before the others and, head down, was probably out of sight for the most part, Climent had ‘forgotten’ about me as the others were all doubled up in rows (on small plots elsewhere & when there plenty of us there can be 3, 4, or even 5 pickers to a row). The Blanchards fruit was pretty damn fine & I hope Bill will include a specimen photo within the number he allows me.
And so to lunch – a nice piece of chicken today with mixed veg. Part way through lunch le patron Herve Arlaud entered the refectoire and made some sort of announcement which went straight past unable to understand me. Fortunately one of the other guys realised my plight and told me Herve had advised lunch would be extended to 13.50 (we normally get back to work c13.15). I’d previously been aware of a threat of rain in the forecast for today but had almost forgotten about it as the morning’s weather had been fine. The lunch extension was to see if it might start raining, in which case, we would not go out as there would be little point sitting in the vans watching the rain come down (done that before in other years – no fun). Needless to say an extended break was well received, not least by your’s truly as it gave me a chance to catch up on photo downloads, edit re-sizing & captioning. Some ten minutes or so before 13.50 Herve re-appeared to say he’d been on the phone to someone in Vosne-Romanee (or vice versa) who had told him it was raining heavily in Nuits & Vosne. On that basis, and the assumption the rain would arrive on Morey very soon, Herve told us any afternoon’s work was cancelled. This seemed splendid to me as:- a) there’s not much positive working in the rain, and b) when it is/has been wet the ground can soon turn very muddy indeed with consequent effects on our equipment (buckets & secateurs), us and our clothes/footwear, and the vehicle interiors. A free afternoon would also give me badly needed, useful, photo and word laptop time. Some younger elements of the workforce seemed disturbed by Herve’s announcement and a few sought individual conversations with him. I could but assume maybe loss of wage income might be the issue.
So, everyone soon drifted off so I got a beer and set to on the laptop for an afternoon. As time passed I was conscious no rain had arrived but I had an evening appointment in Beaune and driving south could see some evidence of rain around Vosne and more so Nuits but not a great deal. The roads were dry, little impact on dried verges etc from what precipitation might have fallen, just the odd puddle or area of water at the border of vines, in driveways etc. So, bizarrely, in Morey we’d been rained off but had had no rain at all ! A convivial evening in Beaune passed quickly but accompanied by the sound of occasional very heavy showers of rain. Sure enough, when I came out on the street to walk back to the car, everywhere was very wet, as was the road back to Morey. In Morey itself it was clear the evening had finally brought rain – just several hours post forecast !
To come on Day Five a real mixture of activity & including a stunning visit to Vosne 1er cru Petit-Monts.
Marko de Morey 14th Sept 2018.