Arlaud Vendange Day Seven – Sunday, 9th Sept 2018
Another day, another visit (or two) to Roncevie ! I’m not intending to make this diary note ‘that’ long (hurrah I hear some of you say 😉) as there’s only so much one can write about picking in Roncevie over what would be spread across 3 days and 4 half day sessions in all. Be bored not though as Day 9 to come will see matters ‘spiced’ up as a Vosne day !
I’ve actually gone back to my captioned photos from this day and added the time taken which is relevant to whereabouts in Roncevie we are/ have been generally. I should also add that I only took a few photos this day as a full Roncevie day thus not much to stand out & Bill should not have ‘selection’ issues. There should have been a rare one or two full Group photos (see later comments) but, annoyingly, as outside my control these weren’t taken on my camera.
So, day’s start saw us, in a reverse of the day before, start just below the road, ‘at the top’ of the site as it were and work down towards the same edge of the woods we’d started from on Day 6 but jusy more rows along. Rest break occurred c9.30 a.m as we finished the first rows. The kennelled hounds soon ‘got wind’ of our presence and kept up their cacophony through the morning with the sanglier & goat hunters gunfire adding to the ‘ambience’ ! After the rows from the first section we’d finished that abutting the woods and moved higher, more along/towards the road edge. Cant recall now the number of passes we made here but coming towards lunch it was clear something ‘unusual’ was about to occur. I say that on account of as we finished our rows we were, collectively, directed to the track at the side of the plot running from the road but it was clear we weren’t embarking en vehicule to return to the village for lunch. Also, there were some extra cars etc which had arrived and some more folk. Turned out the teams from the cuverie and the triage table had joined us, along with Cyprien, his wife and children. Not being the ‘sharpest knife in the box’ on occasion it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on/to transpire but when I clocked the Audi Q3 as driven by the professional photographer girl from Vosne Petit-Monts (see Day 5) and then spied its driver ‘the penny dropped’ we were about to be marshalled for a major Group photograph I’d never been privy to before. I had actually asked Herve as we left Petit-Monts if I could then grab a mini group photo but my request had been declined with a comment I hadn’t understood at the time but now realised he must have made a reference to ‘Sunday’. I’d tried to take a full picking team photo (excluding cuverie & triage teams) in either 2016 or 2017 but had been thwarted, despite successfully getting the group together (no mean feat) as my camera battery went flat as I went to take said photo. A word on my Canon G16 and its battery. This camera, owned a few years now, has taken, and stood up to, some serious vineyard ‘stick’. I believe this year I put it the test more so than earlier years but it never failed me. Many times during this vendange I had to wipe off dust, earth, and particularly sticky juice. Once or twice the expanding lens seemed to stick as crud had lightly gathered around the fore edge but carefully wiping sorted this, and crucially, the on/off switch has never seemed compromised. That the camera has a view finder has been essential as the sunlight, sunshine etc has often meant I cannot just tell from the rear screen just what I was about to photo. Any replacement camera in future will have to have a viewfinder but finding something more up to date & at least comparable to the G16 and no more bulky, prima facie, seems a challenge – suggestions welcome please ? The battery life has been excellent, and this is the original battery. Ultimately, I only ended up needing to re-charge the battery on the evening of Day 10 i.e the battery lasted almost the whole vendange & I took a few photos !
If I need to say so I have no connection whatsoever with Canon and other cameras are available 😉 !
Anyway, Madamoiselle Photographeur set to trying or organise a not inconsiderable number of folk how she wanted them. This also involved one of the flat bed trucks as a centrepiece cum platform for the an element of the group to stand on. Whilst all the arranging was going on, realising I was never to going to have the opportunity to ‘snap’ myself, I asked the young lady if she’s take a photo or two for me with my camera after she’d done her own business. She readily agreed and slung my G16 over her shoulder whilst wielding her ‘monstrous weapon’ with huge lens. Arranging the group went on for some minutes during which I contemplated my own position. I abhor having my photo taken & despite entreaties to climb on the truck, stand elsewhere etc etc, when the moment came I’m maybe ashamed (well, I’m not really !) to say I ducked out of site at the back – successfully having later been given a copy of the photo taken as we all were at the end of our vendange. What did then annoy me was, as the Group all split up from the pose and headed for transport with lunch awaiting, was my seeking return of my camera which was passed back to me with a very weak, half-hearted, apology from the pro that she had ‘forgotten’ to take a photo or two with my camera – yeah, right, thanks for nothing ! Not impressed was I to put it mildly.
To lunch. A nice one of some sort of pressed ham slabs, plus chunks of super cheese with mashed potato and a good sauce over. The evening before I’d sampled, with a couple of others, a very nice Julien Brocard Chablis 2017 Vigne de la Boissonneuse from Bill (understand organic et eleve en concrete egg) and had fridged the remainder, with note on to the effect was mine and hands off ! I finished this off with great pleasure over my lunch and yum, yum, yum it was too – delish. I was maybe a bit selfish, and could feel searching eyes on me, but there were too many bodies around me and not enough wine to meaningfully share, so I drank it to myself, reminding myself the others had the Arlaud red or beer as lubrication.
Bank to Roncevie and soooo warm again. Must have been (warm) as Herve had brought out his hat, only worn when the sun is really strong. We went a bit further along the roadside to start the afternoon. The access to Roncevie and the other, down slope, sites is (unless by full track, top section of which is often tarmacadam for a few yards) by earth ramp and on this occasion Herve, presumably for amusement (as he’s almost always super careful), took the van’s descent from the road at some speed which was split second exciting, had us grabbing for something to hold onto, shrieks from the rear incumbents, and accompanied by the noise of crashing buckets from the rear load area. Amusing. Nothing notable to report from an afternoon of solid hard at it picking apart from a minorish brush between myself and the Belgian female I had words with on Day 3, subsequent to which she had largely avoided me or been nice & polite when in my proximity. On this occasion someone had decided she could have a go at being a Porteur – in other words ‘escape’ what can be the drudgery of picking. I wasn’t sure who she’d conned into his singularly inappropriate change of role for which she was wholly ill suited. But, I think I knew who – my room mate, Remy, first year man himself, always a porteur, and a guy himself with ideas above his station (e.g attempting to organise us until I enquired was he assisting Climent when he stopped and denied my question). I’d ‘wondered’ about the relationship between these two previously as Remy had been missing from his bed more than one night& I knew la Belge (as madam was universally known) had a room in the ex Arlaud parents house. Anyway, madam (who I couldn’t fault for enthusiasm but could for over enthusiasm) soon started ‘throwing her weight around’ in demanding we proffer our buckets to empty into her porteur’d case. After her making several such demands of me, often when I was on my knees (picking, not through fatigue) my patience ran out when, after I’d just dropped to my knees to clear a vine, she demanded I cough up the limited contents of my bucket i.e got back to my feet again. Keeping it short, and as polite I could muster (with difficulty given my simmering nature !), I pointedly refused her request, and with additional choice words and some venom, made it abundantly clear to her that, whilst we all had our roles, I saw her’s as servicing our bucket needs and NOT vice versa, that she needed to be sympathique, it was a complete joke to ask someone to rise who’d just dropped to the ground and if she wanted to be really helpful she could stop larking around at the truck & maybe do some leaf stripping for us suitably whilst waiting for our bucket contents – she never did the latter, no surprise there. I was blunt and cross deliberately, not for my own account (I’ve been doing this 9 years & seen plenty of rubbish, lazy, incompetent, porteurs in my time), but more for the picking colleagues around me, or rather behind me, as I was having a strong afternoon and had already stormed one row & assisted elsewhere before she ‘gave up’picking. Mission accomplished as she became suitably wary, much more polite cum acquiescent, and well behaved.
Regular drinks, with main rest break lubrication taken circa 15.50 p.m. Another team were hard at it, some way north of us were the ground rises somewhat, not possible to see who they were but plenty of bodies & vehicles. Finish after 17.00 hrs sometime, In the most northern section, with a goodly chunk of Roncevie now done, the remaining element to come for the morning of Day 8 – we’d eventually go to a challenging Day 11.
Marko de Morey 22nd/23rd September 2018.