Entries from 2020

speedy but not silly…

By billn on October 15, 2020 #events

Marathon International du Beaujolais 2020

I’m in good shape. This year the injuries have been nothing serious – but:

The Chablis marathon/half-marathon has been cancelled, as has the Beaujolais marathon/half-marathon. The latter of these surely wins the prize for the best original artwork – see above!

That does leave the possibility of the Beaune semi-marathon to test myself; currently shrunk from 5,000 potential runners to a maximum of 1,500. In the end, however, great shape or not – and I’m thinking 1:27-1:29 – I just can’t face being at the start-line shoulder-to-shoulder with 1,500 others – whether I’m wearing a mask, or not. And that’s going to be a big mess to clean up when 1,500 people throw their masks to the ground as they pass the startline…

So, for this year, I’ll stick to the roads, trails and vineyards – alone – I’m anyway anticipating the late cancellation of Beaune too – the infection-rate-growth is something to behold in France right now, as practically everywhere…

well, what did you open in the last days?

By billn on October 15, 2020 #degustation

the last days' bottles

For a reason that will soon become obvious, I have some less value-oriented notes coming, but these wines showed a very friendly side for not too much outlay…

2018 Thevenot-le-Brun, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Clos du Vignon’
Open and sweet aromas – there’s citrus too – a good invitation to drink. Starting with a good blend of volume and concentration, here is a wine with a growing intensity of the same sweetly citrus notes from the nose, wrapped in a lovely texture. Like most 2018s with a fine finish too. Far from a ‘simple’ Bourgogne, certainly a very tasty one!
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Le Grappin, Fleurie Poncié
This from high on the hill in Hautes-Poncié – here the view is down to Moulin à Vent – indeed the neighbouring vines are AOC MaV. DIAM-sealed
Lots of colour – well, it’s a 2018! Here is a forward nose of graphite minerality and dark-fruited freshness – A modest accent of pyrazine perfume blends with the graphite. Mouth-filling, fresh and tasty. Ooh – there’s great finish here. That’s soooo drinkable!
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Château de Chatelard, Fleurie Les Vieux Granits
Aromatically this is fresh and very inviting – almost a crunchy aspect to this dark fruit. Wide on the palate with good freshness – more fruit, less mineral vs the Grappin but with fine, indeed delicious clarity. But finish it on day 1 – the second day, the aromas were clearly a step down.
Rebuy – Yes

2017 Schalentier, Riesling Trocken (Mosel)
Sent by a friend who actually made the wine – a small cuvée and there’s some skin-contact here.
Plenty of colour. I simply love the aroma of riesling, particularly with a little age – this isn’t old, but the skin-contact seems to have endowed it with some of that aromatic extra. In the mouth – yes, trocken – more or less-so is the impression depending on what you eat with it. I found it delicious – I don’t know the pricing, but I liked it very much…

marko’s harvest diary 09-Sep-20 – day 7

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 13, 2020 #vintage 2020

Patrick, Philippe, Jean-Claude et Gerard top of Noellat HCDN Pinot

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Seven, Wednesday 9th Sept 2020

The initial whispers of a finish on Thursday had been officially confirmed by the time we gathered for Day 7’s activities & embarked the vehicles. Another fantastic, beautiful morning, weather wise. I can’t recall if I heard early mention of our destination but if I didn’t it soon became apparent as we headed south to Nuits-St-Georges and, turning right at those pesky traffic lights by Moillard (always seem to be on red !), weaved our way through the town to take the D8 road steeply upwards out of the town towards Chaux and the Hautes-Cotes (de Nuits).

My reasonable (well, I thought so !) assumption as we passed through Chaux (always seems ultra sleepy) was we’d be headed still on the D8, in the direction of Villers-la-Faye, towards the plot(s) of Pinot Noir I knew from 2019. Err, not quite, and as another example of the ‘recurring theme’ for me of this vendange i.e experiencing new plots not seen in 2019/not going to some 2019 plots, just out of Chaux we ‘hung a left’ off the D8 onto a more minor road, still heading in the general direction of Villers – but more its eastern edge than west top side. We passed numerous plots of vines and unplanted land, until taking another left onto more of a vineyard stony track than a road, which was taking us towards the edge of the Hautes-Cotes plateau above Comblanchien. Our destination was a plot of high trained Chardonnay who’s rows, roughly south, culminated against a boundary of trees & shrubs. Looking down from the Hautes-Cotes towards the plain below, but off to our left was quite a hum of noise, which I realised was coming from a sizeable quarry some distance away. The inside of the quarry, as below ground level, was invisible but ‘marking’ it, in the early morning, was what looked like a floating mist – whether early morning dew/mist and/or dust rising from the noisy quarrying I wasn’t sure. In the distance, quarrying aside, our location was just fabulous in that early morning.

We picked, initially, away from the track towards the wooded perimeter. The rows were fairly long but as always we were doubled up in pairs, one each side of the vines. For me, again, this meant my new, best picking friend, Patrick. Without wishing to ‘brag’ Patrick & myself were pretty efficient, not bad at all for two over sixty year olds though I say it myself ! The technique with these rows of vines, as usual, was vandalistic leaf stripping to ensure visibility of all the grapes to be picked. This resulted, after some progress down a row, in quite a sight on the ground of leaf debris – from a distance it would be quite obvious what would be a picked or unpicked row. The grapes looked excellent although I’m not used to seeing much Chardonnay. Only our neighbouring female pairing of Odile and Isabel were quicker than Patrick & myself but not by much ! Odile was an interesting character. I didn’t recall her from 2019 but guess she was present then. A local, whilst Isabel lodged, Odile was properly assertive, in a good way, and also seemed well known or to know everyone locally e.g whenever we came across other domaines in vines, or passed other domaine vehicles on vineyard tracks, invariably someone would call out to her or vice versa. She was often the front seat human satnav resource to Jean-Claude when we weren’t following other team vehicles. And so to the end of our first rows. I’d really enjoyed our work so far, standing at the high trained vines very beneficial in terms of my creaking left hip as opposed to more of the usual low level picking. Casse-croute break time. I’ve referred above to our location being just fabulous and so it was, particularly down against the wooded perimeter with continuous bird song. At this point reflecting on our surroundings, the glorious early morning weather, our work, case-croute break etc etc it just came to me felt things could hardly be better and that this was one of the most enjoyable picking experiences in all my 13 years harvesting experience – it just felt that good, if hard to put into words.

Post break we took on new rows working back to our starting location and the trucks collecting the super looking grapes. This, and assisting, some laggards took us near enough to lunch time to, allowing for the travelling, head back to Vosne. Curiously, as I was a little bemused why we hadn’t come this way, our route back was to head thro the vines onto the D115J towards a descent from the Hautes-Cotes, past the quarry entrance (revealed it to look like a very sizeable operation indeed – a huge, terraced, ‘hole in the ground’), down to a junction with the RN74 adjacent to the longtime Les Routiers Auberge du Guidon, as always seems heavily favoured by truckers. Must try the Auberge someday – Google Maps reviews are strong, menu & pics look very enticing.

Our own lunch was a particularly tasty one. We’re lucky imho to have our chef whom I gathered retired professionally some 14 years ago. Today he served up a trout starter (v nice !), followed by simple but tasty roast chicken & pasta. These were followed by tubs of fromage blanc akin to yoghurt (I loved the way Chef writes the menu to note items such as the fromage blanc, ice creams etc are supplied by the domaine i.e not made by him !) and fruit tarts from the local Boulangerie. I ‘passed’ on the latter as the tart pastry was a step too far for me after what we’d already scoffed ! Our staple white wine was again the domaine’s 2017 Savigny Blanc – quite impressive we weren’t ‘rationed’ to Bourgogne Blanc or Aligote. I always thought the food at Arlaud was pretty good but reckon it’s a step (or steps) up at Noellat. There’d be something amiss with you if you were going hungry !

Post lunch back to the Hautes-Cotes, hurrah ! Again we took the route via Nuits, then Chaux. I’m going to be a bit hazy here as I recall we went through Villers, past a field with two contented looking donkeys at a t-junction, turning right, then left on a road which leads to Echevronne, looking down (as set below the road) on the premises/wood yard of Tonnellerie Meyrieux, before coming to a small plot of vines. My defective memory is lacking here as to exactly when we visited here, and what we picked BUT process of timings elimination suggests to me it must have been after lunch this day, or possibly early on Day 8, and involved Pinot grapes which didn’t occupy us too long – another ‘new’ site not seen in 2019.

A word on in vehicle entertainment (which I can’t resist !). Initially, in the earlier days of the vendange, with travelling distances routinely shortish, and probably on account of our team being collectively ‘senior’ in ages, there was no recourse to the Renault’s radio. But, as time moved on, and our travelling times lengthened the front seat ladies provided us with radio music. My experience of French radio stations (local one’s ?) en minibus over the years is that the playlists of the moment seem incredibly short in number of songs such that ongoing repetition is the norm (and some). This was certainly true for us with one particular Europop dirge (sorry, song !) featuring continually to an excessive extent – it seemed every few minutes and every time we had the radio on !!! I’ve looked up this ditty since getting home, if only out of curiosity, feeling like I’d had it driven into my subconscious to learn said song is called ‘Control’ by one Zoe Wees who I gather is a young German from Hamburg. Here are the lyrics for your delectation (Bill, do pls feel free to delete if any possible copyright issues:-

Early in the morning I still get a little bit nervous
Fightin’ my anxiety constantly, I try to control it
Even when I know it’s been forever I can still feel the spin
Hurts when I remember and I never wanna feel it again
Don’t know if you get it ’cause I can’t express how thankful I am
That you were always with me when it hurts, I know that you’d understand
I don’t wanna lose control
Nothing I can do anymore…

[Edit: But I can – that’s enough of that – Bill!]

I can only assume this song must have got to No 1 in European pop charts so often was it played – on our radio at least. The key line is “I don’t wanna lose control” which Ms Wees seemed particularly exorcised/tortured about when ‘singing’ it & which eventually seemed to enter my subconscious, such that at times I couldn’t help myself humming or singing it (quietly !) to myself when picking. Horrendous !

Back to the main focus ! From our brief, through village, diversion we retraced our route back a short distance towards Chaux, but turning left up a gentle upslope on a vineyard track, then ninety degree left, to a familiar plot of high trained Pinot rising upslope to our right from the track to a treeline, which I remembered well from the latter stages of the 2019 harvest. By this point of the afternoon it was pretty warm again, with regular water breaks much appreciated. Same high trained routine i.e my being paired with Patrick. There was quite some weight of 100% clean grapes on these vines such that very regular bucket emptying was the norm, keeping Jean-Claude ‘on his toes’, backwards & forwards to the truck(s). I did ask about the age of the vines here, if not when we were there then that evening, and if memory serves was told 35 years. I guess another appropriate question might have been to ask if the Noellats planted the vines originally, or bought the plot as established, but that line of enquiry didn’t occur to me. Eventually, with what seemed a delayed truck changeover, we got to a point where, with buckets filled almost to overflowing we had an enforced stop & opportunity for a gentle rest. For pace setting Patrick & self, only the ladies duo ahead of us, we were circa two thirds, or three quarters, up our row. Initially I busied myself leaf stripping ahead but after enough of that returned to my bucket to await emptying ‘relief’ as eventually came about. After completion of our initial row, and rest at the ‘summit’ underneath the trees we shifted left and helped another team complete their rows which took us to completion of the afternoon’s labours.

Back to Vosne for the usual i.e emptying the vehicles and for the cleaning ‘posse’ setting too on the buckets and porteurs panniers. From day one the cleaning crew had remained largely constant, comprising Philippe wielding the hose to clean the panniers and myself, Isabel, Thibault and Eric (the latter a local and enthusiastic team leader of one of the other sub teams) dealing with the buckets in our large rectangular fibreglass tank before stacking them, upside down, pyramid style along the garage wall to dry for the next day. My routine post gear cleaning was to have a shower, get into smarter clothes for the evening, then take laptop and camera to deal with the days photos whilst enjoying a refreshing beer (or two) from our individual, personalised plastic beakers. Beer was on tap somewhere in the premises enabling jug filling as required. I’d lost my original beaker which must have become detached from my belt a few days ago in a plot of Bourgogne Rouge & had had to grovel to Madam Noellat for another ! Evening meal of rice salad and cold meats with cauliflower gratin (tasty !). And so to bed ahead of what was to be a relaxing last day close to our 2020 efforts.

just another lunchtime in tasting season…

By billn on October 12, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

Lunchtime jog...

Call it old age and infirmity – certainly both – but I planned to post these pics on Thursday and forgot. But they were nice pics, so…

A nice round run on Thursday lunchtime – just over 11km – from Blagny up, then down, to Gamay. Once more up the (vineyard) road to the hill above Montrachet – Lamy’s Chatenières on this steep section. Down to Puligny village via Montrachet/Bâtard then Criots. Take the bottom road below Meursault-Charmes to the cross in the vines, followed by left-turn up the hill to follow the road between Genevrières-Charmes and Perrières above until the right turn back up to Blagny.

With (aiming for) 5 visits a day just now (but this week I’m back in Switzerland) – finshing after 7pm usually means that I’m hungry when I get back to the apartment – and after eating the ‘lust’ for a jog is certainly diminished. So grabbing a sandwich and/or quiche to munch after a lunchtime jog works well for me a couple of times per week and the fresh air is nice:

from this week’s inquisition…

By billn on October 09, 2020 #degustation

Tranche 2 rdv

My many thanks for the vigneron(ne)s that put up with my questions this week – many covetable wines for sure!
Purely alphabetically:
Au Pied de Mont Chauve
Jacques Carillon
Jean Chartron
Comtesse de Chérisey
Le Grappin
Antoine Jobard
Albert Joly
Marc Morey
Georges Noëllat
Sophie & Arnaud Noëllat
Alvina Pernot
Baronne Thénard

marko’s harvest diary 08-Sep-20 – day 6

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 08, 2020 #vintage 2020

NSG Village Fruit

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Six Tuesday 8th Sept 2020

In summary this was a day of Bourgogne ‘a go go’ – with a gossip twist as to when the end of the full vendange might come for us. A vendange might sound a compelling adventure (maybe not !), with superb opportunities to get ‘close up & personal’ with lots of famous name premier and grand cru terroirs. It can be I guess but there’s also the seriously mundane to ‘endure’ e.g Bourgogne terroirs and aligoté to go with pinot. For us this day of ‘slog’ started with a first thing vehicle ride, again north, to a little way beyond the Vougeot/Flagey-Echezeaux roundabout, to opposite were the D122e heads up into Chambolle. Here we turned east off the main road into what I call the flatlands which culminate against the Dijon-Beaune railway. Nothing notable or remarkable here. We made 2/3 passes of different, extensive, pinot vines in warm sunshine, with usual break for casse-croute. At one point mid-morning a quite lengthy walk ensued between plots which, for your’s truly (who’d stupidly forgotten to take his corti-steroid medication that morning – not actually prescribed for my hip but useful in deadening the discomfort) was causing serious limping ‘grief’ when one of the trucks hove to alongside me on the track. Alongside highly likeable driver Gerard, was ‘in the vines’ boss Gerald. The latter motioned to me, initially prompting, uncharitable as it turned out, thoughts on my part I was to be told off for something, or be told I was heading in the wrong direction or similar. Instead Gerald, who’d obviously, to his credit, noted my plight in limping any distance, was calling me to step up into the truck cab for what turned out to be a serious ‘lift’ around the plot to its other side. Very handy, as to traverse the full distance on foot would have been a real tester, the rising morning temperature an added issue. At the end of my truck ride we waited for the straggling on foot groups to collectively make their way to us. My team, once they arrived, were directed to move down the rows to the ends to pick their way back, to meet another team who’d pick towards them. I started to follow my colleagues but Gerald called me back, again ‘saving’ me any randonnee. Instead he allocated me to a row (doubled up) with the team who were to pick towards mine. All pretty considerate of him, causing me to regard him in a much more favourable light than hitherto, particularly 2019 ! I didn’t consider myself as ‘stricken’/incapacitated as it might have appeared & didn’t really have any great problem holding my own at the vines in actually picking. Mobility over a distance was an issue though so any ‘taxi ride’ was a bonus. After this latest pinot plot we moved only another short distance in the same area to what turned out to be lengthy rows of Aligote which took us to lunch. Picking Aligote or Chardonnay after Pinot can be quite different. Naturally, the Pinot bunches tend to stand out unless a vine is particularly heavily foliaged but, and notably in bright sunshine, Aligote & Chardonnay grapes unless sizeable, weighty bunches can be seriously hard to spot. Enthusiastic leaf stripping and studious care is essential to ensure quite decent sized bunches aren’t missed. It seems to be if there’s a temptation to leave some leaves, or not look behind them then one can almost ‘guarantee’ grapes will be missed. I do enjoy picking white grapes though as a change – can’t really explain why.

Post lunch, quite different landscapes, but more Bourgogne. The afternoon continued what for me was a theme of the vendange this year i.e whilst broadly we went to the same areas/plots as we did in 2019 not all was the same in that particular plots we went to last year we didn’t this e.g in Fixin as above; and conversely this year we went to plots we hadn’t in 2019, perhaps the first example here the Bourgogne Rouge we did after Vougeot. The latter aspect was particularly apparent this afternoon with a degree of the former ! I can’t quite remember now with passage of time the order of plot picking (usually my photos are a reminder/prompter) but we certainly attended one’s I’d never seen before – all on the far side of the railway. Initially, we took a right just going out of the village to the north, opposite the D109 as leads into the village. This took us into rolling countryside with areas of trees/copse, interspersed with vines and fields. All quite interesting as I’d no idea vines existed in such a location. We also at some stage picked two sites near the railway, a new one from our initial sortie away from the village, the vineyard track very close indeed to the railway fence at one point, passing a large signal box, the other a well remembered from 2019 plot past industrial units reached from some way down the Route de Boncourt le Bois which is almost opposite Restaurant La Toute Petite Auberge on the main road. Our afternoon finished with a large plot of Aligote bordering (non village side) the RN974 as it climbs out of Vosne. We made more than one pass through these Aligote vines in two areas, walking between both. A very tiring afternoon, notably warm throughout & even into the evening, for a fatigued your’s truly at least who’s hip was by the close giving me hell. At some point late in the afternoon or maybe early evening I’d overheard gossip of a finish on Thursday (Day 8) which didn’t surprise as suggesting a timescale akin to 2019s. So, we were getting there, with what turned out to be venturing into the Hautes-Cotes to come to see us to a conclusion. I think it was the evening of either Days 5 or 6 which saw a bit more of a late night drinking (wine) session than usual when I inadvertently caused some consternation amongst those staying up later. After consumption of the usual sorts of bottles with our evening meal and immediately afterwards, and when I’d moved away from the group slightly to work on my laptop photo downloading, re-sizing, captioning etc, at some stage Gerald & Hubert decided an additional bottle or bottles were needed. I was aware from 2019 that as longstanding regulars, and bosses below the Noellat family, G & H could have access to the keys to the underground cellar (our usual bottles came from the above ground buildings; specifically the room to the rear of the garage I believe, which also houses the bottling line). On this occasion they disappeared and triumphally returned brandishing a 2002 Vosne 1er Les Suchots – a serious bottle, much more so (serious) particularly in age terms than I’d ever seen broached before. This was opened with much fanfare & shared around. This didn’t sit easily with me at all though, in fact made me particularly uneasy. If Alain Noellat had made it available there’d have been no hanging back on my part but, as it was, I politely declined when I was offered a pour. This resulted in a bit of a minor furore as all present were surprised at my refusal, probably as they all knew I liked my wines. I was challenged & somewhat put on the spot were, and in attempting to explain myself, the language barrier didn’t help & matters got a little ‘confused’. I could clearly tell I was being told it was fine to open the bottle, and Gerald & Hubert were entrusted with the cellar keys, all so far so good BUT a top premier cru, and a 2002, the likes of which we’d definitely not seen before (in 2019 or this year) were all too much for me. I sensed I might not, at that moment, have been too popular, or maybe they were all just baffled by me, but my conscience was clear, remained so, and in any event I’d drunk enough as my head told me the following morning !

As above, to come the Hautes-Cotes and, as a counterpoint to my Morey nightmare, one of the most fabulous morning’s picking experiences I’d had in my vendange career.

marko’s harvest diary 07-Sep-20 – day 5

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 07, 2020 #vintage 2020

Noellat Team in NSG Village

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Five, Monday 7th Sept 2020

Day 5:- Amazing how, for me, the vendange takes one away from it all, especially without regular wi-fi access. No newspapers & no TV. Almost total escapism into another world – no bad thing lol ? Unless I were to think hard, and almost count the days on fingers, then if someone asked me what day of the week it was then I’d be hard pressed to say. One is almost in a bubble of vendange routine. Am not sure if I’d be able quickly to say Day 5 was a Monday but if it was Monday then today meant Marsannay, followed up to lunch by interesting Fixin plots, then another afternoon return to Morey, but the latter a much more ‘comfortable’/normal one than the day before !

As I’ve said previously, what a difference a year can make weather wise ? When we ‘did’ both Marsannay & Fixin (the latter more than once) in 2019 both came after the weather ‘turned’ post the biblical NSG storm and became grey, cloudy & sometimes damp. The journey to the Noellat Marsannay plot this year was a pleasant interlude, start to the day, initially cruising up the RN74 through Gevrey, then left on the D108 into the village, then with a short right onto the Route des Grands Cru, before left again, still on the D108, the various signs pointing to the village domaines piquing my interest for return visits some time. Through the village, leaving buildings/habitation behind, Noellat’s plot of Marsannay is a relatively small one, in ‘Es Chezots’, the vines tucked into a sweeping uphill right hand bend of the D108, before two higher hairpin bends, on its way to Corcelles les Monts. Bright & sunny this morning, with an initial chill which made me keep a jumper on over my tee shirt. As last year we parked on a track opposite which takes one to a Sapin du Garde (observation deck) with uncultivated field on the Marsannay side, on the other trees and shrubs amongst which some local(s) has some kennels for what sounds like a large pack of chiens de chasse (hunting dogs – spaniels, hounds & terriers). Needless to say, as last year, even though the dogs must have been mostly out of sight of us, as soon as we arrived the peace & quiet was shattered by a cacophony of barking & baying which continued until we were leaving (and for all I know may have continued a while after !).

As an aside, whilst looking up ‘Es Chezots’ in my ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ bible, I noticed on page 42 a (for me) stunning, uncaptioned, full page, photo (presumably relating to Marsannay) of a vineyard with what look like in focus lavender in flower amongst grass ahead of a very old looking vine with others and posts blurring out of focus heading downhill with village buildings in the background. Lovely photo which I’d be delighted to have taken.

Care required as we crossed the road in groups as traffic was regular. I could feel my hip as I tried to pick up speed across the tarmac but with nothing coming I could have paced myself. The full team of the four sub teams had made it here, and as the plot isn’t of great size, it didn’t really seem to take us long, even with two passes, for some of us to see off the staggered, shorter rows as one came back to the road. Nice grapes here, well presented, from well trained vines, no excessive foliage hence almost a joy to pick after my receding Morey nightmare. I’ve had the domaine wine from here a few times in a couple of vintages – a good one. So, back across the road, and whilst it seemed a little early/too soon for the casse-croute break, although I confess I had no idea of the real time, nevertheless, refuel we did in quite pleasant surroundings – continual doggy noise aside. Must confess I felt sorry for the cooped up canines, much as I did for the dogs in similar surroundings in a copse almost in the middle of Arlaud’s Bourgogne Roncevie. They must be gagging to get out when ‘released’ for the chasse. Quite relaxing though, sitting on the mini bus rear bumper in the sunshine, munching the usual large half baguette, sipping Aligote. Worst way’s to spend one’s time 😉.

Next stop, as I’d half guessed beforehand, after Marsannay was, logically, Fixin (pronounced Fissin). The more I see of parts of Fixin the more I like/warm to it, and as somewhere I could happily live. Another village, like Marsannay, with much scope to visit vignerons. Our first (of two) sites in Fixin this morning was a familiar one from last year, well below the village proper on the top side of a road who’s bottom side is residential housing. As last year I’m pretty sure we were looking at Fixin ‘En Clomee’ – if not that then Fixin ‘Les Chenevrieres’. As we pulled up & disembarked another domaine were working here, two tractors and trailers parked close by our vehicles. No great surprise this other domaine was the local Domaine Pierre Gelin (‘PG’). Readers of my vendange diary and photo views from 2019 may remember a photo I took then of a small, round, red post marker with the name of Pierre Gelin on it. PG has holdings in both ‘En Clomee’ & ‘Les Chenevrieres’ so I’m correct we were in one of those two. I sort of recall we had two or three serious go’s at this site last year but this was to be our sole visit for 2020. Maybe the Bulgarians had been here already or coming to it after us. Whatever, whilst I had strong memories of very long, time consuming rows, such didn’t seem the case this year – maybe the much better weather and dry ground underfoot cast a different light. With the full team here though, half were directed to the other end of the rows to work back whilst the rest of us set off from ‘this’ end so we effectively halved the rows. Nice grapes again here on this heavier, low lying ground.

What followed the above rows was rather interesting and not something that featured in 2019. It’s a crying shame I lost my photos this day, from here and later in Fixin (see later). Further on up the road (as the song says – now who sang that ?) as just a short walk, on the opposite side, were another plot of (Pinot) vines. These lay beyond a piece of land given over to allotments. The individual allotment nearest to us was a ‘work of art’ on which the owner had, and is, clearly lavished/lavishing much time and effort beyond whatever he/she must be growing. There is, for want of a better word, a posh ‘cabin’ – maybe better described as a small pavilion – with veranda, and also further into the plot, perhaps in the middle, was a serious looking tree house constructed, from the ground up into/around the tree, from wooden pallets – quite a structure. As someone who’s had to domestically break up pallets (used for delivery of bathroom fittings), unable to find a home for them (seems most pallet firms deal in sizeable quantities, not interested in one or two) I was highly impressed ! Once we were on this second plot of vines we could also see more handiwork from the allotment owner on the far side of the cabin, namely a brick barbecue, and also a sink and ‘draining board’ type preparation area on brick pylons. Anyway, allotment escapism aside, this second plot of vines were quite something as high trained, akin to what one would find on the Hautes-Cotes as we’d come to in due course. I was intrigued. We were paired up to work the rows here, as usual with these high trained vines. For me, that meant the start of what was to pleasingly continue for such vines for the rest of the vendange, being paired with the quiet, studious, highly likeable, older than me, Patrick Prevost who lives in Nuits. Patrick and I worked well together and in time dispatched our row efficiently before assisting laggards elsewhere before final grapes were collected & we returned to the vehicles. One clown, a wiry, older, guy who I believe is a long standing regular, who’d tried to ‘take the piss’ out of me one evening as ‘Anglais’ until a gave him a mouthful to the consternation of others and Alain Noellat (who asked me if I was ok to which I just grimaced), decided it was ‘clever’ to climb a decent sized tree on this high trained plot & start shouting some unintelligible (to me anyway). Clearly an exhibitionist but with only half a brain, who clearly hadn’t considered the implications, not least for the Noellats, if he’d fallen to the ground. From his shaking of the head and quiet muttering it was clear to me Patrick was as unimpressed as I was by ‘Tarzan’ !

Back in the vehicles, sometime to go before lunch, so off we went to another Fixin plot – or the others did as we (in our vehicle) got lost and ended up in a random tour of the village before eventually making it to where we should have gone directly by which time the others were dismounting and making their way on foot to the next plot. We’d set off in the right direction but in the front seat, local Odile was directing Jean-Claude up & through the village but, and am not sure why exactly, the latter must have misunderstood the directions, resulting in us taking, I think, a left instead of what should have been a right. In efforts to ‘get back on track’ we seemed to take almost an entire convoluted circuit of the village, to the ongoing puzzlement of the back seats passengers (including your’s truly), at one point passing the well known to me Domaine Jean-Michel & Armelle Molin, close by the village’s Roman bath house. We should have gone directly up the Rue Noisot to the restaurant, Au Clos Napoleon, and taken a right down the side of the restaurant building onto the Rue des Hervelets a ver Fixey – which we got to eventually. I was anticipating we were to pick, below the road, last year’s Fixin Les Boudieres/Le Village where I’d been on the village side outside row and ended up with vines, under the shadow of trees and shrubs, having minimal grapes. Above the road, but not for us, are the premier crus ‘Les Hervelets’ & ‘Les Arvelets’. My assumption was wrong though so the Bulgarians must have ‘done’ the above. Instead we walked, from the vehicles, to a very old set of stone steps down into the plot onto a path, just before ‘En Combe Roy’ above us, which led us to a plot of vines some way back from the road which must be part of ‘Les Entre-Deux-Velles’. We’d ‘done’ this plot last year after the one mentioned above but in this year’s sunny, warm, dry weather it was a good deal more pleasant & nicer place to be than in last year’s indifferent claggy weather. Nice grapes again; good volume, no rot. Completing this took us up (allowing for travel time back to Vosne) to lunch time. But, walking back along the Rue des Hervelets to our vehicles, coming towards us was an unusual/unexpected sight, namely a guy astride a lively, sizeable (as in tall) skewbald horse – akin to something from a Cowboy film or ‘The Lone Ranger’ (for those of us old enough to recall the latter !). The horse was quite skittish, doubtless down to having to make its way through our motley crew, its shod hooves clattering the road, its helmeted rider seeming none too impressed at our presence, whilst wrestling his steed. What a shame again I lost my photos as I recall having good one’s of our venue and then the equine encounter. Hey ho ! No recall without photos either of our lunch/evening menus.

Post lunch back in the vehicles, and off down the Avenue du Monument to the RN974. With the Noellat cuverie immediately to our left, as we waited for traffic to allow us to make a left turn onto the main road, I was intrigued to see a large multi wheeled commercial tanker truck in the cuverie entrance. What on earth was that doing ? Evening enquiry of Alain Noellat brought advice clarification the tanker was bulk collecting Aligote juice ! Wow, the Noellats must have some quantity of Aligote to allow for such a bulk sale. I omitted to ask if the juice was this year’s but assume it must have been albeit our ‘crew’ had yet to pick Aligote in quantity although we did subsequently. Our destination going north again this p.m. ? Shock horreur pour moi; Morey-St-Denis again !!! To my intense, subsequent relief the Village rows we spent the afternoon picking, a little more north and more directly behind the Hubert Lignier premises, whilst hard work didn’t have the horrors of my worst nightmare from Day 4. Concluding our Morey excursions saw a completion of Day 5.

Burgundian Squalls…

By billn on October 06, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020

Today – save for a sunny interlude about lunchtime – was a squally day – sometimes dry, sometimes light rain sometimes far from light rain – but practically always grey. If I had the time I’d turn some of these photos moody black & white – but hey…

Otherwise, tasting 2019s, so far, is a pleasure when compared to tasting the Curate’s Egg that was 2018!

Pics mainly from Puligny & Blagny but a little wet Beaune too:

offer of the day – henri boillot 2019

By billn on October 06, 2020 #the market

Domaine Henri Boillot 2019 – en primeur
As always, from my local Swiss merchant who makes this offer about the same time each year.
I leave you with the 2018, then the 2017, pricing in brackets. Well, you didn’t expect it to go down did you?

Bourgogne Chardonnay 2019 75cl 29.00* (26.00, 23.00) Swiss Francs
Meursault 2019 75cl 58.00 (55.00, 49.00)
Meursault Les Charmes 2019 75cl not offered (95.00, 89.00)
Meursault Les Gouttes d’Or 2019 75cl 95.00 (new)
Meursault Clos Richemont 2019 75cl 105.00 (new)
Meursault Les Genevrières 2019 75cl 125.00 (115.00, 108.00)
Meursault Les Perrières 2019 75cl not offered (125.00, 115.00)
Puligny-Montrachet 2019 75cl 58.00 (55.00, 52.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Folatières 2019 75cl 125.00 (not offered)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 2019 75cl 125.00 (115.00, 108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 2019 75cl 128.00 (115.00, 108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Les Perrières 2019 75cl 115.00 (115.00, 108.00)
Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère 2019 75cl 128.00 (115.00, 108.00)

Corton Charlemagne 2019 75cl 188.00 (175.00, 168.00)
Montrachet 2019 75cl 895.00 (845.00, 795.00)

Criots-Bâtard Montrachet 2019 75cl not offered (319.00, 296.00)
Bâtard Montrachet 2019 75cl not offered (469.00, 455.00)
Chevalier-Montrachet 2019 75cl not offered (698.00, 688.00)

Volnay 2019 75cl not offered (49.00, 49.00)
Volnay Les Chevrets 2019 75cl 89.00 (89.00, 89.00)
Volnay Les Caillerets 2019 75cl 99.00 (99.00, 99.00)
Pommard Clos Blanc 2019 75cl 89.00 (new)
Pommard Les Rugiens 2019 75cl not offered (99.00, 99.00)
Clos de Vougeot 2019 75cl 179.00 (169.00, 158.00)
Latricières-Chambertin 2019 75cl not offered (219.00, not offered)
Echézeaux 2019 75cl 229.00 (229.00, not offered)
Bonnes-Mares 2019 75cl 330.00 (319.00, 298.00)
Chambertin 2019 75cl not offered (319.00, 298.00)

*The price you see is ‘delivered’ but ex 7.7% Swiss purchase tax.

Burgundy Report

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