Entries from 2020

marko’s harvest diary 06-Sep-20 – day four

By Marko de Morey de la Vosne on September 21, 2020 #vintage 2019

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Four, Sunday 6th Sept 2020

The first part of the afternoon of this day was one of the most downright difficult & unpleasant picking experiences I’ve had in Burgundy in 13 harvests. Passage of time has done nothing to alter my view. The Lord certainly wasn’t smiling down at me, that’s for sure.

But before we get to the horror element there was the morning to meander through. The day again started off sunny but then, hallelujah, became cooler with some cloud – ideal working conditions for your’s truly. The morning was entirely Chambolle which was fine ! We worked our way unremarkably through 4 plots in all. There was an element of finishing rows not completed previously as well as new elements. Perhaps the most interesting plot was one on the way out of the village, can’t be sure now where this was but it was adjacent to the road (D122) and sat below a private property which was at right angles to the road, with another semi derelict property opposite. It was the building opposite that provided the interest for me as its eaves were ‘home’ to the nests of both swallows and house martins. The birds were pretty busy, a joy to watch, one or two ‘demanding’ youngsters sat on the roadside overhead wires becoming very flutteringly demanding when any parent came near. Watching this my thoughts were ‘you’d better get a move on and start fending for yourselves’ as surely migration wouldn’t be too far away. In addition to the swallows and martins I noted another bird flying around, a bit larger and not as ‘svelte’ but didn’t recognise and couldn’t identify that species. Our final pre-lunch Chambolle plot after the ‘bird’ one required two passes then so to lunch, Chambolle finished for another year. On the way out of the village, across the road from the Boursot premises, just before the road forks two ways into the upper village, we passed a very large, sprawling, oak tree with plaque at its base referring to its age & when planted. I would come back to have a closer look at this post vendange on one of my two days ‘me time’ before returning to England. Seeing the Boursot premises reminded me of Bill’s referencing the domaine & I resolved to add it to my days off visit list.

I only took 9 photos this day, simply as we were so busy and quick, and with the afternoon so demanding, I simply didn’t have the opportunities. The first 5 were affected by the settings issues referred to previously & it was only post-lunch as we disembarked the vehicles at Morey that I cursingly & belatedly noticed the awry settings dials. Lunch though today was another tasty one. Ouefs Mimosas weren’t something I had before but very tasty. Followed by that ‘ole staple’ boeuf bourguignon which never disappoints. In addition to the Badoit & Vittel waters our wines at lunch were commonly, as white:- either Aligote or Savigny 2017 Village Blanc; red Hautes-Cotes de Nuit Rouge.

Morey-St-Denis ! Always good to be back in dear Morey, always to have a special place in my heart after 9 years working here. As usual we ‘circled’ around to get to our destination, the ‘corner’ element of vines between Hubert Lignier’s RN74 premises and the road up into Morey from the traffic lights, from the southbound carriageway. This circling (driving almost a square or rectangle) involved heading up towards the village before turning right into Rue de Tres Girard, past Cecile Tremblay’s cuverie, and the Hotel, then through the Tres Girard vines until turning right again back down onto the RN74 in the right direction/correct side of the road, right again onto the latter then dropping off down a little ramp onto the track which goes up to a large private property behind impressive Leylandii. To the right side of the above property and above it the vines are MSD 1er cru Les Sorbes but the lower element to the road is the village classification, Les Sionnieres. As an aside, whilst it occurs to me, Alain Noellat told me one evening that the domaine’s MSD plots came from/with his marriage to Isabel. Sometimes I’ll manoeuvre myself when we’re being set up to start rows if I can see a preferred row but here I was lagging a bit behind the others getting my knee pads & gloves on, & adjusting the camera settings such that Hubert directed me to the remaining outside row adjacent to the track we were parked on, Philippe on my inside.

What followed was incredibly difficult and exhausting. From the first vine get go I just could not believe the extent of vine foliage I was looking at. I could have done with a machete rather than my secateurs which seemed almost painfully inadequate sizing up the task. Gritting my teeth I attempted to get going with any sort of method/rhythm. If the foliage wasn’t enough when one did manage to ‘hack’ one’s way through to where any grapes might be then more often than not, peculiarly for this row, many of the seemingly small bunches were hanging particularly low, just above the ground. The bunches certainly were not ‘presenting’ as one commonly/ideally finds. Trying to stay on my feet such was impossible really so I had little option but to drop to my knees where I largely remained for most of the row, other than when having to stand for bucket emptying or to lean over to cut grapes on the other side of the vine. Quite quickly, and absolutely not something I was used to, I began to fall behind the others. Not a great deal initially but by the time we’d been ‘at it’ a while and some way up the rows, the distance between me and most of the others was significant, depressing, and growing. To someone used to being ‘up there’, if not setting the picking pace this was a shock to the system. The only saving grace, if there was one, was that Philippe on my immediate inside was having similar issues to myself, if not as grim, and was roughly half way between myself and the others. He was intermittently cursing and sympathising with me. Every vine seemed a new battle with its own challenges. I can hardly believe now I’m typing this but, trust me, this was grim and as difficult as grape picking might get – in my experience at least. Jean-Claude was also sympathetic, coming back to me now and then with bottles of water to at least give me regular hydration. Thank goodness it was cloudy ! Eventually I was saved, probably no more than half way up my designated row, by the others having completed their rows coming to my aid en masse. With a number of ‘attackers’ it still seemed to take a while to complete the row by which time I was almost exhausted and nearly out on my feet, staggering out of the row onto the track, breathing heavily.

After a short rest our sub team moved a little higher, and to the right, to pick some more village rows which, thank heaven, whilst still bearing a weight of foliage, were much more ‘normal’. We continued here until a halt was called just after 17.00 hrs. Such a finish time, whilst the norm at Noellat, was not something I’d been used to at Arlaud were we commonly worked until near 18.00 hrs. For this ageing individual the earlier finish was most welcome !

The rest provided by the mini bus journey back to Vosne was just what I needed. The evening was interesting though as, to my surprise, my travails in the Morey Village was a subject of debate/ discussion (all sympathetic), including with Alain & Sophie Noellat hence word somehow must have made its way to the cuverie. Fame at last although not ideal ! I enjoyed my aperitif beer and later our evening wines more than usual that night before sleeping soundly. If there was a ‘sting in the tail’ from the Morey experience I believe that was for my ‘creaking’ hip as, if not on Day 5, by Day 6 I was struggling quite badly in moving any distance – picking at the vine wasn’t too much of an issue though.

To come, with no photos for Days 5 & 6, and the latter to a certain extent being unremarkable/ ordinaire in terroir terms at lease, I’ll combine my next instalment to cover both.

offer of the day – thibault liger-belair’s 2018s

By billn on September 21, 2020 #the market

Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair 2018 EP/Pre-Arrivals

Prices arrived today from my Swiss merchant. The 2017, 2016 & 2015 prices (from the same time, previous years) are in brackets for comparison. Still no Beaujolais:

NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES La Charmotte 75cl 55.00* (52.00, 55.00, 49.50) (Swiss Francs)
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 75 cl 69.00 (69.00, 69.00, – )
VOSNE-ROMANEE Aux Réas 75cl 75.00 (69.50, 76.00, 69.50)
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES Les Saint-Georges 75cl 125.00 (119.00, 118.00, 109.00)
NUITS-SAINT-GEORGES Les Saint-Georges 150cl 260.00 (248.00, 256.00, – )
CORTON CLOS DU ROI 75cl 159.00 (159.00, 159.00, – )
CLOS DE VOUGEOT 75cl 165.00 (159.00, 169.50, 158.00)
Charmes-Chambertin 75cl 175.00 (169.00, – , – )
RICHEBOURG 75cl 425.00 (398.00, – , 395.00)
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE 75cl 189.00 (189.00, 198.00, – )

Relatively steady pricing at this time from Thibault.

*As always, these wines are without the 8% Swiss purchase tax, but include the cost of delivery…

marko’s harvest diary 05-Sep-20 – day three

By Marko de Morey de la Vosne on September 21, 2020 #vintage 2020

Echezeaux Fruit
Echézeaux…

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Three, Saturday 5th Sept 2020

A long day here, commencing with a surprise, and finishing with a convivial evening social in Beaune with William and Angela.

Before embarking on detail of the day proper I need to make a (photos) confession & to ‘catch up’ with a couple of aspects missed previously, one of which relates to today’s surprise, the other to our first day cleaning activities when we had an unexpected, if hilarious, ‘helper’.

Balloon over Echezeaux c8.00 a.mOn the photo front the limited (I was too busy !) number of photos I took this day turned out, very disappointingly, to be ‘spoilt’ by the camera settings, unbeknown to moi, being accidentally disturbed – which I failed to notice into Day 4. In brief, the Canon G16 has two overlapping ‘wheels’, or dials, on the top relating to its settings. One wheel is that for settings, with my keeping that on ‘auto’ most of the time, the other wheel is for -3 to +3 movements in increments of 1. First thing, I take the leather cover off the camera for speed of use (it has 3 press studs), otherwise I’d have too much messing about with little time, and then sling/loop the camera strap from shoulder to opposite waist in effect such that the camera itself ‘sits’ on my lower back safely out of the way whilst I’m picking until I wish to take a photo. I’m not sure even now what was going on with this vendange as, jumping ahead to the end, after today I was constantly finding the settings wheels were being disturbed – much more than ever before in previous years. Whether the dials/‘wheels’ movement has become ‘slacker’ with age (the numerical wheel I was finding hereafter was moving often, the other not so much) I don’t know, or maybe the camera was being ‘caught’ by the excessive vine foliage this year. After spotting today’s problems only part way through ‘tomorrow’ I then wised up & always tried to think on to check the dials pre taking any photo. Today though, and into the day after, the auto setting was ‘caught’/moved such that the photos have come out ‘bleached’/whitened (over exposed ?). Very frustrating, particularly re the hot air balloon (see later). I’ll leave up to Bill whether he believes the photos might be used (or some of them). Getting ahead of myself I bit, but whilst on the subject of photos, I may as well confess now things got ‘worse’ as I completely lost all the photos taken for Days 5 & 6 in an error ‘saving’ (or not !) after download, when I was also too quick to delete from the camera to be able to retrieve matters. Doh ☹.

Away from camera/photo ‘cock ups’ two other matters. 1) Yesterday, I had a conversation with my team leader from last year, Gilles. Gilles had been happy to explain to me he’d been ‘promoted’ this year, away from the teams, to be a driver i.e fetching the grapes back to the cuverie. I was suitably envious! But, what was more interesting was what else he told me! I casually queried why we hadn’t seen him as a camion driver to which his response was he had been roving around elsewhere with the ‘Bulgarians’ ! Ah hah, dammit, this was the confirmation of my suspicions of the domaine employing another, contract picking team, alongside us which I’d understood had happened in 2019 – it then had to as in 2019 we never picked any of the Vosne 1er crus, or the domaine’s Cote de Beaune sites (Savignys and Pommard). A team we never saw & who must have had their own eating, accommodation etc etc arrangements. Gilles, not really understanding what he was telling me meant to yours truly, garrulously continued to tell me this year they’d already done Vosne Suchots, Vosne Beaux Monts and Echezeaux. This was almost akin to a punch in the guts to me & I struggled to hide my disappointment. Whilst the Noellat family are lovely people, and I love them to bits, my major reason (in fact ‘the’ reason), having decided 2018 would be my last Arlaud vendange after 9 years, in selecting Domaine Michel Noellat was their portfolio of vineyards/terroirs. It had been deeply disappointing in 2019 to find matters were not as I anticipated & I’d mused in England, ahead of coming out here for 2020, that if 2019 was repeated I’d seriously have to consider continuing with Noellat – in fact I’d decided I couldn’t/wouldn’t and already had thoughts on a ‘replacement’ in Pernand. So, Echezeaux already done but not by us (although we had picked it in 2019). Looked like Vougeot & NSG Boudots were going to be our only top/‘serious sites’ & we’d have to be excited by NSG Village, Chambolle Village, Fixin, Marsannay, Bourgogne’s, and the Hautes Cotes. Hum !!! Probably only terroirist myself was ‘affected’ by this as the others were simply here for the vendange for other reasons. I never heard any of my colleagues ask about, or express any comment, on any terroir. In fact, only now musing on this, none of my colleagues actually ever asked me why I was working the vendange – even though I was probably asked every other possible question except my inside leg measurement !

Matter No 2):- this was altogether non serious/light hearted. Amongst our number were 5 young Spaniards – 2 guys and 3 girls. Perhaps they might best be described as ‘new age’ or whatever, but they had ‘radical’ hair styles, including a couple of mohicans, heavy tattooing, metalwork piercings and so on. Friendly types, and hard workers, they live in 3 or 4 camper vans on the other side of Clos de Reas from the domaine. They didn’t eat with us & I believe may have been vegetarians. They had a number of dogs between them – five in all I think although I never saw all the dogs close up to and, unlike the Italians from 2019, the Spanish dogs never accompanied us into the vines. Anyway, on Thurs evening, for our first gear cleaning session in the garage, after a while I realised, away from my bucket dunking, there was much amusement amongst the others, notably towards Philippe wielding the hosepipe being used on the porteurs panniers lying on the garage floor. The source of the amusement was immediately obvious, a very small, black, muscular, hyper bundle of energy, terrier type dog who was obsessive about the jet of water from the hosepipe and ‘biting’ it, or ‘catching’ it, in his mouth, occasionally yelping with excitement. Whilst Philippe was happy to give the dog the occasional ‘play’ he (Philippe) was also intent on cleaning the panniers but the dog was diving in and out of the panniers and chasing the water jet anyway he could in hyper mode. Inevitably, the dog was also wet through on occasion but that didn’t stop him. Short haired, he just stopped occasionally to give himself a brief convulsive muscular shake before continuing his manic, excitable, attention to the water jet. It was all very amusing and an utter delight to watch. Turned out the dog, and another larger sweet, feathery, mongrel type with a withered left front leg which meant she walked on 3 legs & who kept to the side of the garage away from the water, belonged to one of the Spanish guy’s who was upstairs having a shower.

Onto the day itself and herein was the immediate surprise. We embarked the vehicles for the short journey to Echezeaux Au Dessus. Echezeaux ??? Moi ? Gobsmacked, after what Gilles had told me as earlier. This was an odd one – I was highly intrigued, and all the more so, when I saw we had a reception ‘committee’ of two gents waiting for us by our camion which had arrived before us. One of the two guys was obviously the worker/gopher from his attire but the other was clearly ‘somebody’. I felt I should know/recognise this second individual but have not been able to place him or establish who he was. I gather he was a Courtier; small, very dapper/distinguished, smartly dressed in expensive looking blue shirt & chinos with tan leather brogues, slicked back silver hair, smart watch – not your average vendangeur !! These guys were in 2 vehicles; a ubiquitous large white van and a VW Touran SUV for Mr Smart. As we prepared to start Alain Noellat arrived and I overheard a conversation with our ‘guests’ along the lines of 15 cases & 1 piece (pronounce ‘piess’ !). The rows we were about to pick were definitely not the one’s we’d picked last year so I assumed Gilles reference meant that the ‘Bulgarians’ had done those rows. Instead, the rows we were about to tackle were more towards Vougeot, still ‘Le Treux’ though as Alain confirmed to me at lunchtime. The visitors had brought their own, common, plastic cases of the type I was familiar with from Arlaud but there was no stencil name identifying on the cases. Mr Smart disappeared in his VW as we started. As we picked our porteurs emptied their panniers into the cases which were loaded one by one into the white van. This went on until 15 cases had been filled post which the van departed but we carried on picking, presumably for the domaine. An interesting ‘diversion’ occurred early on as we picked in that a large hot air balloon came over us from behind us as it were i.e the higher ground/slope. It was pretty low, moving quite smartly on the morning breeze, in a NNE direction. My photos of the balloon might have been pretty good had the camera settings not been askew, drat it. Typical !

After the highly (to me at least) interesting Echezeaux ‘diversion’ and enjoyable casse-croute ‘refuel’ we got into the vehicles, crossing back through Vosne, towards NSG and the village plot we’d been working in late one afternoon in 2019 when we’d been ‘caught’ by a biblical almost heavy rain storm with thunder & lightning, then just making it to the vehicles to avoid a proper drenching. What a difference a year makes weather wise – this year hardly being more different ! I’ve just tried to work out which terroir this plot of village is. I can’t be sure but believe it must be one of Aux Allots, La Petite Charmotte or Au Chouillet. Bit vague I know, sorry ! A relaxed pick of this NSG, good grapes, took us to lunch. Back at the domaine I tried to establish with Alain Noellat whom we’d been picking the Ech grapes for. Alain is pretty open and would have told me I think but I couldn’t make myself understood – or so it seemed. He did confirm my understanding 15 cases = 1 piece and that was what had been sold. I jokingly suggested ‘good for cash flow’ to which Alain agreed & laughed. I’ve never had a ‘duff’ lunch at Noellat but today’s was a rather good one. To start, as nice a piece (piece of, not ‘piess’ !) of jambon persille as I reckon I’ve had. To follow rabbit with small roast potatoes and green beans. Fromage to follow then an ice cream – very satisfying !

Afternoon initially saw two more plots of NSG Village, one of which was the one from last year who’s lower edge is up against the rear of domestic properties fronting the RN974. I believe we must have been in Aux Tuyaux, failing which Aux Athees. A short way to our left were pickers from another domaine but not close enough for any interaction & finding out who they might be. From mid afternoon we moved north again to outside the south side of Chambolle and the gently rising slope towards, just around the top corner of the hill, Musigny. We must, I think, have been in ‘Les Gueripes’ but, whatever, the soil here is nice and fine. I was in good form here, and gradually drew away from my colleagues except having to come back for bucket emptying, such that frustratingly at the point ‘time’ was called for the day I was only yards off the end of the row/top of the hill. And, guess what ? My team never came back to finish what we’d started so I didn’t get any ‘benefit’ of my efficiency.

I missed the evening meal as I had a ‘date’ in Beaune ! The town was surprisingly (to me) busy. I just managed to find a parking space on the ‘Peripherique’ which wasn’t too far away from my destination. Bars and restaurants were packed looking and lively. Plenty of folk strolling along were mask wearing but social distancing didn’t see to apply. Nice evening at Bill’s was a change from the norm – the wines broached have been covered by Bill in his “some weekend wines – obviously” Diary entry of Sept 7th. I was very happy with the tasty showing of the Arlaud 2000 Clos de la Roche and confess I didn’t ‘get’ any brett. The Bouchard 2015 Chassagne 1er En Remilly was of great interest as I’ve been much intrigued since Bill highlighted this terroir/wine, and with purchase of a bottle or three at Bouchard’s on my agenda post vendange completion. Finally, the Bertagna was another really good 1996 (love that vintage); the first ever Bertagna and Vougeot 1er cru I can personally recall tasting. Happily being ignored by some gendarmes standing by their car as I pulled away from my evening’s parking spot it was back to Vosne ahead of Day 4 with perhaps the biggest nightmare I’ve had in my vendange career to come (maybe other than October 2013’s Hautes-Cotes freeze fest for Arlaud) !

A white Fixin, a red St.Aubin – and (call me stubborn!) another attempt at 1985….

By billn on September 20, 2020 #degustation

2017 Armelle et Jean-Michel Molin, Fixin Blanc VV Les Ormeaux
A wine raised in a jar (amphora) with plenty of skin-contact it seems. The label proudly announcing Vin Biologique! A robust cork.
Plenty of colour; a little golden and not with 100% clarity. The nose is heavy with the aromas of grape and is a little bready – not elegant but definitely not a turn-off either. Mouthfilling, and with a nice fresh wave of flavour that holds quite well in the finish. There’s plenty of concentration here. You may be forgiven for not being sure whether this is chardonnay or not – so forget ‘Fixin!’ – but this remains a more than tasty glass for all that, one that I’ll happily take a refill of!
Rebuy – Maybe

1985 Guillemard-Dupont, Pommard
A domaine in Meloisey at this time. The cork breaks in more than one place, but I just about kept all of the parts on the corkscrew…
This is a big and open nose – the age is showing with its ‘forest floor’ of wet leaves plus a certain sweetness from the fruit – if you like the smell of older wines, you’ll love this! Mouth-filling, complex, still some layers of oak too. There’s a sweetness to the flavour and generally speaking, this seems a robust specimen of an ’85 – perfectly clichéd Pommard, if you like. The weight and length of finishing flavour is on another level to the Fixin. For what it is – bravo – drinking well over three days (kept in the fridge after opening) and not a hint of brett developed!
Rebuy – Yes (Luckily, I think I’ve more!)

2009 Gilles Bouton, St.Aubin 1er En Créot
I still have a few of these handily-sized 50cl bottles – in this case still drunk over two nights. A robust cork.
On first opening, this is a strange blend of sweet fruit and more herbed notes that might imply under-ripeness – both in the flavours and aromas. Yet this is a wine that pulls together very well with aeration – I’m sure it’s still going to improve in the cellar – assuming it takes on the aerated character rather than exacerbating the first impressions! Slowly coming together with some moderate sweetness of red fruit and a less forward herbacity; here is a wine that seamlessly transitions from ‘something to drink’ to a wine where I’m looking forward to a top-up.
Rebuy – Yes

marko’s harvest diary 04-Sep-20 – day two

By Marko de Morey de la Vosne on September 18, 2020 #vintage 2020

Vougeot lower grapes case on lorry
Vougeot lower grapes case on lorry

Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils, Vosne-Romanee – Vendange Day Two, Friday 4th Sept 2020

Am actually, typing this 17th Sept, back at home in the UK having left Burgundy very early last Sunday. Apologies for the delay since my last missive but various distractions, needs etc getting home & not been feeling too great the last couple of days – albeit no Covid symptoms ! Now, that I’m both at home, and in ‘enforced’ quarantine until the 27th I should be able to accelerate my ‘output’ to fully cover the vendange, and what turned out to be a very pleasant couple of days ‘me time’ afterwards.

But, for now, our Noellat vendange second day continued to follow a similar pattern to 2019s. A delight to have the room to myself and be able to ‘spread out’ my stuff, but in disciplined fashion I made sure I made my bed each morning. Normal start on the Noellat premises ‘forecourt’, grabbing a coffee from the machine in the large room we dined in last year, then waiting for everyone to arrive. Routine sees the team leader chauffeurs taken first thing to the cuverie on the RN 74 where the mini buses are parked overnight to then return in said vehicles to collect the rest of us and gear. A new feature for this year for each vehicle & sub team (4) is a cool box containing bottles of water (Vittel & Badoit) and bottles of white wine for both casse-croute lubrication and other lubrication thro the day. Into the vehicles are also loaded the porteur’s pannier and the requisite number of buckets we need. We’d been allocated our secateurs at the Day One ‘initiation’, with responsibility to retain these through the vendange and hand in at final day completion. Woe betide anyone losing their tool ! For myself, my personal equipment includes camera (the tough, robust, Canon G16 I’ve had now since 2012), gloves (gardening type although I also had rubber gloves with me but didn’t use those), and my invaluable knee pads. I’m quite in awe of those who don’t wear gloves and also long surprised more of my colleagues don’t use knee pads – but maybe I spend more time on my knees !

This vendange became notable for me with the settled weather – this morning was no exception. No great chill even first thing and, whilst initially an extra layer or two’s clothing might be judicious, once ‘hard at it’ one soon needed to get down to just tee shirt or the one top. So, 7.30 a.m. and off we go ! Not ‘that’ early as my 9 years at Domaine Arlaud always saw Herve Arlaud determined that we’d be in the vines before 7.30, invariably before any other domaine.

Destination Vougeot, this year to start with the bottom section of the two parcels Noellat have here (2019 we started with the top section). Vehicles parked on the widish section of verge where the road from the village joins the RN74 (see photo if Bill includes). Entry to the Clos was, if memory serves, via the Faiveley gate. My second layer jumper was removed in the first row as it was already becoming hot, hot, hot with no breeze at all to speak of. Grapes looking pretty good, my grabbed photos maybe not doing overall justice. It was post Vougeot later that a theory formed in my mind that for this dry and hot year maybe those lower lying terroirs, and/or with heavier, more water retentive soils, would benefit notably to lighter earth terroirs. There was no shortage of grape volume in this lower part of Vougeot. Casse-croute break, just inside the wall, followed completion of the lower section Vougeot picking before embarking en vehicule to loop around the southern section through the edge of Grand Echezeaux to enter the upper part of the Clos through gap in the wall onto track which takes one ultimately to the buildings. From our mini bus as we skirted along the wall pre-entry I was shocked to see a static Harvesting Machine with support van on the other side of the wall in the Clos. I never thought I’d see a Harvesting Machine in a grand cru – maybe I’m naïve. I’ve no idea who might have been employing it – my Landrieu-Lussigny & Pitiot Climats & Lieux-Dits ‘bible’ listing over 60 producers presenting a harvest Clos de Vougeot declaration for in 2011. If I had to have a guess though, and hope I’m not doing the gentleman a disservice, my suspicion would fall on Gerard Raphet as I’d seen him using a Harvesting Machine in Chambolle Bussieres a few years ago, surprised then, when (hand) picking close by for Arlaud.

Picking the upper section parcel of Vougeot passed without incident or note. Grapes not as abundant though as in the lower section.

Once out of Vougeot we travelled only a relatively short distance south before, probably below/opposite Vosne Chalandins or Aux Ormes, heading off towards the railway line, coming initially right to the fence before heading maybe half way back towards the main road before disembarking to tackle a parcel ( 2 passes made) of Bourgogne Rouge (or similar designation) which would take us up to and into lunchtime. This BR parcel was notable for what was to be repeated elsewhere namely a material weight of foliage (leaves etc). I did wonder if the canopy had been kept ‘heavy’ particularly to shield the crop from the sun but never established if the case. Whatever, it was akin to tackling a jungle, in addition to which the weight/volume of grapes was substantial. Everywhere was very dry. I definitely hadn’t come to this plot in 2019 or anywhere near to it so it was ‘new’. Just before we finished here my colleague, Patrick, in the next row called my attention to something at the top of a vine along the top wire. This was a small, wild wasps nest with a few wasps buzzing on it. A first for me in 13 harvests (see photo). Fatigued by the ‘war’ in battling through the above our team was the last back for lunch ! Menu for lunch & dinner is as per the photo but a pretty good lunch !

A late return for lunch saw a later p.m start and thus shorter afternoon session which was solely Nuits-St-Georges Aux Boudots who’s northern boundary is, of course, Aux Malconsorts. Boudots had made a deep (positive !) impression on me in 2019. Topography, terroir and ambience were really nice such that this swiftly became a favourite personal site joining such as Clos St Denis and Vosne Petit-Monts. We must, as a full team, have been split as my photos show only two mini buses rather than four. Where the others went I didn’t establish although I now suspect maybe a plot of Nuit-St-Georges Village as when we tackled other parcels of NSG Village on Day 3 such did not include all of those we’d ‘done’ in 2019. Boudots required two passes, one upslope and one down, punctuated by a lengthy drinks break as the afternoon was extremely hot with my scribbling that evening ‘thirsty like never before’ !!! I was developing a serious liking for Badoit sparkling water, and amusing my fellow team members by calling it ‘Badoit Grand Cru l’eau’.

Post Boudots back to the domaine for the evening rituals:- gear cleaning, shower time (then for me), photo downloading/editing (ideally with a beer), before evening meal & so to bed. Meal this evening had, unusually, Croque-Monsieur for the main course which seemed a bit of a cop out for our talented chef but a good Croque it was too. One of my fellow lodgers, big a regular for a few years, is highly likeable Thibault, a youngish, always cheerful, big guy. Thibault has a prodigious appetite such that he’s always offered 2nd or 3rd helpings by the likes of Madam Noellat and I’ve never known him refuse. Where he puts his nosh goodness only knows !! On this occasion I reckon he must have eaten at least 4 Croques if not more ! We had a fun debate this harvest when I asked Thibault, with others present, if he’d ever seen the American TV program, Man Versus Food. Turned out he had & was much amused at my suggestion he might be the star of a French version !

And so to bed before Day 3 with an Echezeaux conundrum.

another from 1985

By billn on September 17, 2020 #degustation

1985 Pontbriand

After the abortive – actually horribly corked – 1985 Bertagna I tried my luck with another 1985.

This, a no-name (at least today) négoce. The cork broke in the middle but fortunately in this case I managed to keep it on the worm of the corkscrew. A previous bottle of this had been ‘okay‘ but this was metallic tasting and seemed rather structural – not a particularly attractive glass. This did make it into last weekend’s beef bourguignon! 🙂

1985 cork

offer of the day – 2018 Billaud-Simon

By billn on September 16, 2020 #the market

Olivier Bailly, 2020From my normal Swiss source. I don’t remember seeing previous offers from this currently excellent producer:

2018 Chablis
Chablis Montée-de-Tonnerre 1er Cru 2018 75cl 41.00 (*Swiss Francs)
Chablis Vaudésir Grand Cru 2018 75cl 72.00
Chablis Les Preuses Grand Cru 2018 75cl 74.00
Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2018 75cl 79.00
Chablis Les Blanchots VV Grand Cru 2018 75cl 85.00

*As usually noted, these are delivered prices (for 6 bottles and over) but will additionally incur the Swiss sales tax of 7.7%!

I’ve a few more offers in my inbox but I’ll drip-feed you them over the coming 10 days or-so – so that the Diary is not too boring or mouth/eye-watering 🙂

1997 – at the double – the le-la’s :)

By billn on September 15, 2020 #degustation

La Romanée Le Corton Bouchard Père

Two grand crus from 1997 – both from Bouchard Père – the Le-La‘s…

1997 Bouchard Père et Fils, Le Corton
A wine that went through a strange phase about 5 years ago – the wines all (3 consecutive) seemed corked so I gave up trying them – or maybe they were corked! All my recent bottles, like this one, have been super.
Hmm, a much more forward nose from opening versus the next wine; a little whole-cluster-style complexity and with much to find – this is a great nose! Expressive, open-flavoured – I’m not sure that I would guess Corton, or even Côte de Beaune – this is absolutely delicious though, with beautifully balanced concentration and a sneakily mouth-watering long finish. Ooh – this is really in a great place at the moment. More than excellent.
Rebuy – Yes

1997 Bouchard Père et Fils, La Romanée
My previous bottle of this – 3 years ago – was fabulous. This was also not too shabby!!!
A nose that takes its time to grow in the glass – always fresh but taking its time to captivate – but in time it does with a growing floral accent to the spice – it makes for a very fine invitation. Pow! The nose was certainly understated in comparison to the impact in the mouth – full and wonderfully complex. After 23 years this is still youthful and even a little saline but absolutely a wine that holds my attention – it develops, seemingly without end, in the glass for over 2 hours. Bravo, no question!
Rebuy – Yes

a little beaujolais at the weekend…

By billn on September 14, 2020 #degustation

Inserting a little extra juiciness into my weekend drinking…

2017 Château Ravatys, Côte de Brouilly Mathilde Courbe
Deeply, deeply coloured. The nose has a darkness of fruit to match the colour – slightly alcoholic and a little liqueur but not quite enough to be a turn-off. In the mouth, the black fruit is just so juicy and shows great energy. This is frankly delicious with a finely persistent finish. In the end, I just wish that the nose was a little fresher. An excellent wine that’s great in parts.
Rebuy – Maybe

2018 Manoir du Carra, Fleurie Clos de la Deduits
Compared to the Ravatys, this has a much more modest depüth of colour. The nose is easy-going and quite a good invitation with classical Fleurie red fruit and flowers. The palate, likewise, is easy-going and tasty – a wine that asks nothing of you – though I’d like to be challenged a bit more. Very good and faultless in this modest style…
Rebuy – Maybe

2015 Daniel Bouland, Côte de Brouilly Mélanie
Deeply coloured. The nose is a little alcoholic but majors on a sweet, dark cherry – time (and air) fills the glass, first, with an additional floral lift and, second, modifies the cherry as much more acid-cherry in style – that’s really super. A young flavour profile, of course, but here is concentration and a classy balance. Muscular but with fine intensity and freshness. Super – and easily my favourite of this trio…
Rebuy – Yes

Burgundy Report

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