Arlaud Vendange Day 11, Evening Paulee, Thursday 13th September 2018
I know its now ‘way after the event’ but something wants to make me finish my vendange diary completely. Ok, guess, in ‘pure’ vendange terms, my Day 11 words have finished ‘that’ diary but for me the ‘whole’ vendange includes my time on the Cote – which includes the Paulee I’ll describe here, plus what will be another note to come, defo my last (hurrah I hear you cry 😉) covering my final weekend up to departure. I’ll leave to Bill whether he wants to add these words to the website given passage of time ?
I can’t recall when the possibility of the end of vendange gathering (a sit down evening meal celebration – but no music, no dancing etc as happened in what is now many years past) was first mentioned this time at Arlaud but believe might have been our last day, or perhaps the day before, but no matter. Whenever the formal announcement was made the gist of it was that the event would be held at the ‘old’ Arlaud XIV century Nuits-St-Georges (‘NSG’) premises, pretty much in the Town Centre or just off it, on the evening of our last day. Transport would be provided from the Morey centre domaine premises and back.
So, after the weary finish of Day 11, we (lodgers anyway) had a couple of hours or so to ‘wash & brush up’ and get into whatever ‘glad rags’ we had for our evening out. It’s always quite something amusing, after working with folk for more than a week to then see those same individuals in completely different garb to what has been previous day to day. We gathered in our ‘party gear’ in the refectory building entrance for a beer or two whilst we awaited everyone who was being transported turning up. As the norm, ribald and other comments greeted arrivals in their ‘smart’ clothes, including such a reception for myself although I wore nothing out of the ordinary – but was shaved, showered & in clean blue jeans, decent shirt and Lacoste blue trainers. The star prize for ‘effort’ and (incredible) appearance though, absolutely hands down, went to a young, local, guy – known as Scarface. I’ve never found out his real name but he and I, whilst about as different characters as possible to meet, have always got on well going back 2/3 years of his working the Arlaud vendange. I gather from an aside Cedric made to someone else this year that Scarface might have a back history as a juvenile delinquent or similar but for me, he’s an ok guy. He can be seen 3rd from right in the photo entitled ‘Arlaud Paulee gathering 4’. He always calls me ‘English’ which is fine, I’ve been called worse ! That, I think, is about the extent of his English language vocabularly. He is generally very unkempt, with long, invariably unbrushed/uncombed, black hair and has a variety of tattoos (including, offputtingly, on his face), plus ‘metalwork’ (i.e studs in nose, ears etc). He endeared himself to me, and impressed me no end, in (I think) 2017 in the Vosne Avenue du Monument plot when we were working doubled up in the same row. I can’t recall how/why it came about but I suggested we ‘went for it’ to finish our row first, not thinking for a second he’d agree or go for it, but it’s incredible what a bit of right direction cum motivation can do now & again ! We blitzed the that row between us in a manner then that stunned me, as well as leaving me gasping with the serious extra effort, and I remember Herve looking supa-surprised as we two emerged from that row, high fiving each other, way in front of the rest – a great, and fun, moment. After that we were ‘best mates’ for the rest of that vendange, Scarface showing that Vosne Village side that totally surprised the rest of the group who’d generally shunned him. He only showed up for this vendange 2/3 days before the end. I never found out why, guess he might have been working elsewhere, but I was happy to see him again even if we didn’t repeat our 2017 mini team effort. Anyway, back to the evening here, I don’t know what possessed Scarface but, mightily impressively, he turned up looking like a sort of Elvis ‘lookalike’/impersonator in white suit (well, the jacket & pants were different shades of white !), black shirt & chain jewellery, the whole ‘effect’ being just slightly ‘spoilt’ by the scruffy white trainers (I wouldn’t be surprised if our man doesn’t possess any ‘formal’ shoes !). When he arrived, once we’d got over the surprise, and taken in the full effect, Scarface received major applause, and rightly so, for both ‘effort’ and effect.
My longstanding friend, all the way back to my first Arlaud vendange (2008), Sandrine, in two photos at the NSG premises, was also very glamorous !
And so to transport embarkation in a wholly different way to harvesting, but using the two smart minbuses, the Renault and for me the black VW Caravelle, destination NSG. In NSG we turned right into the public car park off the D974 just past the traffic light crossroads of the Rue Sonoys/Place de Verdun. Here I was intrigued to note a parked vehicle I’d encountered late one evening heading back to Morey from one of my previous Beaune night outs. This was a newish, white with some blingy gold trim, Range Rover Sport – ok nothing ‘that’ unusual there – but when I’d first encountered it as we both left Beaune, the driver cutting me up at some lights, what had then caught my attention as not something one sees everyday (or I don’t/haven’t) was the Range Rover’s ‘Principaute de Monaco’ licence plates. On the evening in question the Range Rover driver, whom I never got to see, drove like a bit of an idiot at excessive speeds between Beaune & Morey on largely empty road but never actually ‘dropped’ me and my BMW as we invariably caught up again without effort at various red traffic lights en route, and finally at the Morey lights, where the Range Rover went right to the lower residential part of the village and me left to Morey Haut Centre and my bed. At the time I was intrigued just who in Morey (or staying) had such a car and drove as they did. Now here was the same vehicle in the NSG car park!
Disembarking, the first ‘glitch’ of the evening occurred as one of the sliding rear side windows of the VW Caravelle, frame and all, fell out (into the vehicle) and resisted concerted efforts of a few of the guys to get it back in whilst the rest of us waited. Eventually most of us set off for the short stroll to the venue on Rue Grenier a Sel (see photos) leaving a few to see if they could sort out the vehicle. The Rue Grenier premises were not unknown to me. These were the domaine working premises before the current Morey cuverie which was a 2004 (I think) new build. I visited here (NSG) with my late father in what must have been the late 90’s / early noughties, well before I had any thoughts of vendange working, as one of then several Cote domaine visits arranged through UK merchant importers (same trip I recall included Lafon, Pierre Morey, Gouges, S Esmonin & others). At the time I recall both Cyprien and Herve being present but the working premises then being unrecognisable to what we entered on this evening. Beyond the large wooden (oak ?) doors to the street is an inner glass framed entrance into reception area, on the right of which is a kitchen area, and beyond the main ‘room’/space which had two very long tables laid for our meal to come. The whole inner is a series of brick arches – very impressive. I never asked but it looks like the Arlauds have ‘converted’ or made over the premises to some sort of venue which might be rented out for functions etc.
On this evening we milled around, and in the street, whilst everyone coming (who’d not been minibussed) arrived. I was intrigued to note the street wall plaque adjacent to the premises main doors (see photo) does not mention & presumably pre-dates take on of Morey 1er cru Blanchards, but also omits mention of the domaine’s three Chambolle 1er crus. Cyprien and Carole arrived on foot with the three older offspring on a mix of bikes and child scooter. Carole’s chef father (also father of young Victor) was in his chef’s apparel, clearly in charge of what we were to eat. Eventually the ‘crew’ who’d been left to fix the VW arrived led by a smartly dressed Herve, looking impressively turned out (like most/all of us) in comparison to his/our ‘in the vines’ apparel. I gather they’d been unsuccessful in trying to re-fit the window so I guess the vehicle was left unlocked. My return to Morey later was in the Renault but I subsequently learnt over the weekend at the cuverie that the VW window was successfully re-fitted before the valeted vehicle was returned to the hirer.
Eventually we were ‘marshalled’ for two pre sit down formalities. The first was to each be presented with our end of vendange boxed wine gift. The boxes for each of us (two bottles – a Cremant and an Aligote – but a reduction on past years 3 bottles) were in the back of a van in a garage premises across the street from the Paulee premises. After receiving our box we were then directed to a queue in the Paulee reception area to a first time addition:- Cyprien, and Office Assistant Beatrice, handing each of us:- 1) a Domaine Arlaud 2018 Vendange tee shirt (never had these before here in my 9 year history although I was given and still have a Domaine du Duc de Magenta tee shirt from my first 2006 harvest there) and; 2) a Group photograph taken in Roncevie by the professional photographer mentioned on Day 7 (which I’d managed to avoid appearing on !). So, at least I’d got a Group photo even if I’d not taken it myself ! My tee shirt is an XL size (I think Beatrice must have ‘guessed’ individual sizings !) which I suspect, as normally ‘taking’ a L size, might be a bit ‘roomy’ on me as and when I wear it – always allows though for shrinking when washed I guess !!! Nice touches though and all a part of the extra differences e.g the beer, casse-croute breaks the Domaine has gone to in 2018 compared to past years.
Once the above formalities had been concluded we filed into the main ‘chamber’ to sit at the long tables on the benches brought from our usual refectoire dining room. I tucked myself into a far corner, or as near as I could make it, to allow for photo opportunities to come. We dined on an entrée of what I guess might best be described as a slab of pressed ham with tomato, main of Boeuf Bourguignon and pasta, followed by fromage, and I think a chocolate dessert. In addition to the table mineral waters no white wines but Cyprien himself served us individually magnums of domaine (of course !) 2009 Chambolle Village and later what I think, in bottles, was a 1985 (if not 1995) Chambolle Village with its ‘old’ domaine label featuring where we were sat. Both very tasty, particularly the older wine, which must have been made by Herve. I had been anticipating other wines, including maybe Charmes or CSD, from a line up presentation of bottles I’d noted, and photo’d on the way in, but was disappointed – they must have been for show.
The latter part of the meal, or just after it (can’t recall exactly when), was ‘interrupted’ by, initially, a very well & respectfully received ‘thank you’ speech from Cyprien to us all (details to some extent passed me by as my French wasn’t ‘up’ to grasping all he said) before one of the more mature vendange guys, a pleasant individual, a lodger, who’s name I never knew, was asked to introduce a presentation. This was a Diplome du Merite certificate and boxed bottle of wine to my long time associate & van seat companion, Monsieur Jean-Pierre Feral, for vendange services to the domaine over an extended period. Much table banging, clapping, cheering etc as J-PF stood up to receive the above. What followed next left me initially stunned, once I realised my name had also been called out, which I didn’t for a few seconds as my surname was ‘mangled’ but, somewhat shocked, took in everyone was looking at me and many of the guys were chanting ‘Marko’ very loudly and table banging. In super embarrassed fashion I had to make my way around the room to Cyprien and Beatrice to be handed my Diplome certificate and boxed bottle (later discovered this to be a very welcome 2015 Morey 1er Millandes). Very humbling & very embarrassing indeed. I did my best to make a short, French language mangling speech (well, few words really), thinking on my feet literally, which in the main consisted of thanking the family for the original 2008 opportunity & putting up with me in the intervening years with special thanks to Herve. I’m still not quite sure, many days after as I type this, just what this sole English employee has done to deserve the honour, and it is an honour, but suffice to say an extremely nice, if totally unexpected, one when I can think of many more appropriately deserving vendange colleagues, this year and over the years. It dawned on me after a while that this presentation to me must have been ‘the surprise’ Cyprien had casually mentioned to me some days earlier. Suffice also to say we’ve never had anything like this before (formal presentation) unless it happened in 2017 after I’d returned to the UK.
And, post the above, apart from a little more drinking, chat, and inevitable partial room emptying for the smoking contingent, that was ‘it’ for the evening although there was a very pleasant, for me, occurrence when a very good friend from past vendanges & supa popular nice guy, Laurent (unable to work this year), arrived to collect son, Ugo, being warmly greeted by Herve, myself and others. Back to Morey and so to bed. To my amazement I slept in, without waking at all prior, to 7.00 a.m. to find pretty much all/most of the lodgers had already departed, or were departing, to their respective parts of France. My remaining days I’ll cover off in a final piece to come/conclude matters.
Marko de Morey 7th October 2018.