(covid-compatible) 21-August-20 – burgundy harvesting day 2


2020 Beaune 1er Les Reversées
2020 Beaune 1er Les Reversées


Triage can such an unfulfilling work wearing a mask. How do you taste the grapes(?) How do you blow a spider off your sticky fingers(?) How do you properly understand the French of your triage neighbour through their mask without seeing their lips and facial expressions(?) – okay, there is still their hands and shoulders! Finally, what is the point of the mask when we all sit together – no distancing – at the round table for lunch(?) – and, yes, you guessed it – without masks! Of course, we bring out the masks, once more, directly after finishing lunch. I assume that this is to fulfil the French covid regulations but probably little else.

That’s life – and harvesting – 2020-style!

The home team really worked today – the carrot that was dangled before us, yesterday evening, of an early start and so an early finish came to nought; 07h30 start, coffee eventually at 11h15! Lunch at 15h45. That’s not very French!!! And then there was still the small matter of the remaining grapes to triage after our late lunch. I ended the day with tired feet and knees – I’m sure I haven’t stood in one place for 9 hours for, well, 1 year…

But what about the grapes? I hear you say!

2020 has some very good grapes, that’s for sure, but triage is going to be important in most cases; principally for removing the sun-burned, dried, raisined fruit – in both the pinot and chardonnay – but principally the latter from what I’ve seen on the triage-table so far. There was much talk of oïdium in the summer but I saw none in our reds, and only 4 or 5 affected bunches in our whites – so significantly less than in 2019. Today I triaged grapes from Beaune – red and white premier crus – plus red Savigny villages. Our 2019 Beaune Reversées lives in my memory as the greatest looking parcel of grapes that I ever worked on – since 2004 – the same from 2020 had me reminiscing because of their beautiful shapes and tiny berries, but they weren’t quite as good as in 2019!

The average berry-size is medium to small this year – parcel/clone-dependent – and there is virtually no fauna to be found in the grapes – perhaps they only take shelter in colder weather. 9 hours of grape-work produced around 1 earwig, 3 ladybugs, and half a dozen spiders – nothing! The grapes are clearly sugar-laden and my fingers have taken on some of the tannin colour already. Perhaps less so than in 2019 and 2018 but we clearly have very ripe grapes and a sticky triage table. Ignoring some incorrectly cut second-set bunches, there is virtually no unripe to throw away in the parcels harvested so far.

This reminds me of the positive aspect of harvesting in August – no, not the warmer weather – rather that it’s a bit too early to be greeted by lots and lots of wasps. I’ve never been stung during an August harvest!

Tomorrow it’s easy in the cuverie – we start at 08h15. I think it will be my turn to supply the croissants – assuming we get coffee at a decent time!

Oh! I should mention my contribution to lunch given that it showed so well!
1984 Boyer-Martenot, Meursault 1er Charmes Cuvée André-Paul
Really quite a good cork – I had to be gentle and keep going a little deeper with the corkscrew, but this came out in one piece – just! Bought in a mixed auction lot in Switzerland, maybe 15 years ago. Such a miserable vintage for reds – probably the worst in the last 40 years – but if this is representative, it seems not for whites:
Plenty of colour but not browning. The nose has lots of depth and complexity – sweetness even – but none of that complexity is sherried. In the mouth – hmm – presence, concentration indeed the richness of the cru but with good balancing acidity and plenty of sweetness in this mature but delicious flavour. Really a wine where I was looking to top up my glass. I don’t know how much of the sweetness came from the supermarket in this vintage, but this was balanced and completely delicious. The whole table approved!

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