Arlaud Vendange Day Two (officially Day One !) – Tues, 4th Sept 2018
Morning of what would have been the official start (well, suppose it was) commenced for me at c6.00 a.m, albeit carefully with use of the room light etc as my room companion showed no signs of rising ! Despite having been awake c24 hours getting to Morey, and was I glad I arrived ‘early’ so as not to miss the 3rd’s not inconsequential activities, I’d not been away with the fairies as might have been expected. The small, new-looking bed, and its mattress, which I’ve got are far from comfortable. The bed/mattress seems to be longitudinally two sided, with a slope on one – might have to try unmaking the bed & turning the mattress over ! The mattress also seems to want to work away from the wall/off the bed frame as I toss & turn to try & sleep – I can see myself being deposited on top of my phone and drinks bottle on the floor adjacent to the bed. I’d set my alarm but didn’t need it. Usual mini breakfast for me of chocolate & nuts breakfast bar brought with me, and de rigeur black coffee preceded the dribs & drabs arrivals of the full compliment of vendange team – a motley crew, but with many of the faces I’ve come to know well over the years, but with quite a number of new faces, young & older. I sympathised inwardly to furrowed brow Herve Arlaud with all the attendant paper work he had to deal with per person – clearly not something he seems to relish, despite all his experience & doubtless skills at dealing with. Such was the weight of the task Beatrice from the cuverie office – a most unusual sight at that time of the day – was also on hand to assist Herve.
Eventually we seemed to have the full compliment and off we went before 7.30, now all the vehicles very fully utilised, the last few folk without a seat scurrying worriedly between vehicles to find a place – usual backstop being a less favoured place in one of the double cab flatbed trucks. First location, and as usual we seemed to be the first active domaine alone in the vines, was a return to the Chambolle Village terroir we’d started the day before. Have to confess I wasn’t finding this particularly ‘exciting’. Nothing wrong with the grapes, quite the contrary, and the vines were pendulously heavy with bunches, but the rows were long and the weather got very warm & sunny very quickly – recall I dispensed with my thinnish jumper over a t shirt within half an hour. I like to differ after 9 years experience from many of the locals, particularly youngsters, all of whom wear relatively normal leisure type clothes & footwear, whereas I now routinely have a garb of old t-shirt (plus jumper or fleece if required), ex Army trousers, with the latter covered by waterproof over trousers (to deal with the muck & sticky grape juice, to say nothing of bucket washing, all of which might otherwise require new, clean, pants every day). Footwear wise in the past I’ve switched during a harvest between old trainers/approach shoes, wellington boots, and/or walking boots. However, I’ve no older trainers or walking boots for this year I want to destroy so am full time wearing British Hunter Wellington Boots (navy not green) despite not being a huntin’, shootin’, fishing type nor music festival goer. Other brands of wellington boots are available and no animals have been hurt or mistreated for my vendange that I’m aware of !!! That’s not to say human beings don’t suffer during the harvest i.e the vendangeurs ! The Chambolle Village took us all morning, one way or another, but did include a mid-morning vehicle mounted switch of the two terroirs Arlaud have in this respect. Before moving though, c9.30 saw another, for me, ‘stunning’ development chez Arlaud I never thought I’d see. With the domaine having ‘weakened’ & moved with the times (from 2014 inclusive ?) to a morning coffee/water break & short rest, this particular morning saw a seismic event with the advent for us of casse croute and/or biscuits. The former was a large chunk of baguette with a choice of charcuterie or fromage (cheese) filling. So far I’ve only sampled the fromage version as by the time I’ve got to the Herve presided over picnic table my greedy so and so colleagues have grabbed all the charcuterie versions. I’m working on tactics to get my choice, not least as a limited number of thickly cut (‘doorstep’ in the UK) superior looking brown bread sandwiches with both cream cheese and charcuterie made their appearance on the 6th (but I’m getting ahead of myself !). I’m still almost in shock at now benefitting from rest break, coffee and casse croute only a few years after any suggestion of only one of those might have been met by Herve’s utter disdain/contempt – the times they are a changing (or have changed) according to bard Bob D.
Switching Chambolle Village sites led, just after vehicle disembarkation, to Herve & J-P Feral, the latter my Sprinter front van seat companion, entering into an animated mid-road conversation with the driver of a passing black Range Rover Evoque – a superior British vehicle ! Curious, I moved a little to see the driver was David Duband of his own eponymous domaine, as well as being the winemaker at Nuit St Geoges’ Maison Louis Max, were I’d met him last November. I was not surprised at the Herve/J-P F/Duband conversation as DD is a cousin of the Arlauds and a resident of the Hautes-Cotes as is J-P F. Conversation concluded with my joining in to compliment DD on his choice of British car (he laughed) and responded with ‘Courage’ in respect of our vendange work before setting his sporty shades & moving off.
And so to lunch, by now, with the massed influx of new bodies, a bit more of a ‘bun fight’, particularly if one was a late comer having sacrificed one’s self for the cause by, without being asked, bucket & secateurs washing. Here a big shout out to the two (one male, one female) Japanese (not the two young ladies from 2017) who dived in to help Cedric & myself with the washing task. The lunch starter was a tomato and small round cheese ‘salad’ which looked ok & certainly for me preferable, as a substitute main course, to the actual main which was a most unappealing looking, big, fat sausage & baked beans – err No, so I chose to pass on the latter !
After lunch a most welcome alternative to the Chambolle Village (I hope an afternoon and a morning has seen that off but am not sure) was a very short trip, almost just around the corner as it were, to Clos de la Roche. The fruit here was pretty stunning in its quality and volume (the latter not excessive) with usual millerandage berries on certain vines. I had a bit of an unwitting camera moment here, thinking I’d taken some vine & fruit shots on the way up the plot – and whilst I had, only when I downloaded them did I realise they were frustratingly light spoilt, over-exposed. Only that evening did I belatedly realise the settings wheels on top of my impressively robust, now ageing, Canon G16 had been ‘caught’ and moved off ‘Auto’. To try and take any photos is tricky in the extremis whilst working and gloved up with sticky, wet, dirty gloves and/or hands – to say nothing of having the camera sheathed in an all embracing protective cover. Taking time out for snapping photos also runs the risk of one dropping behind one’s fellow workers who might have to bail you out later if you are lagging in your row so its all a bit tricky. My method for grabbing a few photos, whilst cutting & minimising time loss, is to take the leather cover off the camera before starting a plot and slinging the camera around my neck/across the chest, moving to sit on/against my back, until needed. This, so far, keeps the camera mostly out of harm’s way and readily available for quick, grabbed use. On this occasion, the first time in a few years, such has occurred, the settings had been affected as above either by me or perhaps being caught by passing individual or vine. Its totally impractical for me to use some manual settings & am content at my level of photography non skill, given also the circumstances, to use ‘Auto’ settings – subject to no issues with the latter ! Anyway, I grabbed photos before we departed CdlR of another domaine’s grapes and a shot of one of Arlaud’s very old looking vines. Apologies if you’d like to have seen more (CdlR photos). Getting to a grassy sward at the top of Arlaud’s rows was most welcome, as boy was it hot & humid, for a water break & short rest before descending. I wonder how much that grassy area is worth if planted !
Moving on from CdlR didn’t take us to what might have been the logical Clos St Denis but across village to the second Chambolle 1er cru after Chatelots, namely Noirots. I always think the Arlaud Chambolle 1ers are maybe a bit neglected in buyer desire/importance, certainly I’ve tended to mostly ignore them (although do have a few), with focus more maybe on Gevrey Combottes and the 4 x Morey 1ers – but maybe I’m wrong ? Certainly the likes of Noirots & Sentiers are maybe not amongst the more ‘excitingly’ named/reputation Chambolle crus ? I can remember little of our tackling Noirots and did not feel compelled to take photos but this all could be because all was ‘routine’ and our numbers against the plot side saw us ‘do the job’ quickly to move on to, yay, the always for me thrilling prospect of Bonnes-Mares. Despite being a Morey domaine Arlaud’s vines are more over to the Chambolle side. My approach, arriving at B-M, and aware we’ve always been ‘split’ into two picking groups here, has been to request (‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get !) / make sure I’m in the party that goes to the top and picks downwards. Whilst initially looking innocuous, its quite a climb cum slog to the top of the B-M plot, with the slope angle ramping up in the last yards. A brief rest always ensues before the downward picking as even the most fit are short of breath. I was a bit fortunate in getting into the top starting group as, despite agreeing beforehand with Climent (Herve’s deputy) that I would go to the top, Herve initially directed me to the far right hand row borrow. I politely remonstrated & whilst he waved me upwards he didn’t look best pleased – oops. The soil differences in B-M are quite something. Very thin, light grey/whitish at the top were, unsurprisingly, the vines carry much less fruit than their counterparts downslope. The biggest issue actioning B-M was the distance between the trucks on the road and further up the plot which saw the porteurs struggle to ‘service’ the coupers and their buckets. This led to empty cases being deposited on the ground between rows to enable one to empty one’s bucket and move on without undue delay. On the subject of porteurs this year we seem to have a much superior, and sympathetic to the coupers, bunch of guys. They seem as efficient as possible & a few of them are pretty quick movers. A welcome development as inconsiderate, bone idle, porteurs have, in past years, been the bane of the lives of myself and others. I’ve never found it less than an uplifting joy to ‘do’ B-M with this year no exception. Coming at the end of the day when uber tired one’s fatigue seems less so in B-M. And so we exited inevitable the milling throng spilling into the road around the vehicles. A patient vineyard tractor driver with trailer waited patiently on the Morey side to get through us towards Chambolle. I appealed to my colleagues to make space for the smiling driver whom I waved to come through and only as he passed did I realise this was Christophe Roumier. I’ve seen him before at vendange time on a tractor – he seems a guy self effacingly at home with his machinery .
Return to base, bucket washing etc, clean up of one’s self and gear, shower then restorative beers at the Arlaud pub saw the day move to a close with evening meal & so to bed.
Marko de Morey 6th & 7th Sept 2018.