Up at 6.09 for breakfast to be ready for a 7.15 departure for Vosne 1er cru Clos Des Reas – part deux. As circa 2 hectares clearly this monopole isn’t a site one can see off quickly, albeit as someone used to Arlaud’s 5ha of Bourgogne Roncevie requiring multiple visits, to complete Reas before lunch as we did was good going/satisfying. In finishing in Reas our sub team worked south down mid plot then we turned round and worked back towards the village picking the rows nearest to Rue de la Fontaine. At some point in our first pass someone complimented me on my speed (of picking):- “You are fast”. Similar had happened the day before and in all I would receive similar compliments 4x during the harvest – not bad for an old guy missing the last two years. Of course, out and out speed is to a degree irrelevant as it’s a team business with the name of the game to ideally stay aligned across the team for steady movement, grape collection etc etc. Over the Reas wall and across the street are starred names such as Leroy & Mugneret. Further along are the neat, tidy and well-presented premises of Domaine Michel Noellat I remembered fondly from my 2019 & 2020 harvests & where I’d anticipated I might have been this year except for 2023 they are using a Contract Picking Team for the whole of their terroirs. Coming to Domaine Michel Gros this year it slightly amused me to recall using the shower room at M Noellat once looked out over the Clos des Reas – and now I was standing in it !
Whilst making my early way along the row closest to the Reas wall I noted a familiar looking car come past – it was (Mum) Isabel Noellat’s Mini Convertible. An idea formed and as I was well ahead in my row as I came to the gate mid way along the Reas wall I downed bucket, secateurs and gloves nipped across the road and to the door of the Noellat offices. The whole family (near enough) was there including father, Alain, Sophie (now mother of 3 boys after birth of her latest earlier this year), Isabel, and Sebastian’s wife (name escapes me now). We only had time for quick pleasantries and my explaining my sudden, bizarre, appearance which amused but Sophie, as ever the happy, smiley, glass most definitely in the full category personality, told me they were starting (their harvest) the following day. Rushed goodbye’s and I was back thro the Reas gate and back to picking which, with not many vines, was soon done.
Whilst we, the main bunch, were finishing Reas and moving on to the NSG site below the smaller team element were dealing with Echezeaux (this and Richebourg came to the domaine 3 years ago) and NSG Aux Murgers which, with some Aux Vignes Rondes, forms the basis for the domaine’s NSG 1er cru.
Back to us as the main bunch we were once again on foot (another Randonee !) south to NSG Bas du Combe. Interesting site this, a first for me, but sits below 1er cru Aux Boudots which I know well, and liked so much, from Domaine Michel Noellat. After a rest from walking there we worked here for a short spell up to lunch then walked back to the domaine for lunch – all this walking and no Minibus use yet for the main picking group is aiding the Domaine’s carbon footprint !!!!
Ultimately I reckon I would judge the food here for this harvest as the best I’ve experienced (in 14 harvests). Arlaud was pretty consistently good also but I reckon the Gros bought in catering, and chef use to finish off/serve is a great combo. Today, forgetting the entrée, we had chicken, gratin dauphinois, the cheese fixture, and fruit (an apple for me) for dessert.
I was spared the walk back to NSG Bas du Combe as, about to set off, Michel (Gros) called me back and insisted I share a ride with him in his ageing Toyota Land Cruiser. This was to be my transport for most of the vendange hereafter and glad of it/not to be in the minibuses was I. Michel told me he has been a devotee of Toyota’s for c30 years and likes to mention this when visiting Japan promoting his wines. It didn’t take us too long to finish Bas du Combe (not a large parcel) then we switched across the village to make a late afternoon start on Vosne La Colombiere. The view up to the village and rear of the properties along the Rue des Communes (including Gros, Mugneret-Gibourg, and Lamarche) was interesting from here – I reckoned I could now see what the crane in the front courtyard of Lamarche was all about i.e lifting materials etc over the property for what looked, from a distance, to rear extension works.
My sub team had the outside rows (right hand side of the plot looking up it) with the rear of the buildings on the D109 on our right, including that of Domaine Rene Cacheux. Late in the day halt called & once again I was glad of my new taxi status. Curiously, Michel seemed to have taken pity on me even though I was, and felt, fine – something which would continue. I know my gait has changed since my left hip procedure, added to my long time right sided back issues, with one leg longer than the other (common post hip procedures as I understand it). So back to the domaine, and as I’ve always done, I set to intending to wash, or help wash, the buckets when they arrived back but as I was setting out said pails I was admonished by one of the team leaders, a large, formidable, long time domaine servant lady, Odile. She made it quite clear it was her role, with a lady accomplice, and my involvement was unnecessary – fair enough, first time in 14 years, I’ll take that – at least I offered!
There was one final postscript to the day. Whilst the bucket situation sorted itself out and we queued to wash our hands attention was drawn to a hilarious (for me anyway) scene involving a cute little Jack Russell terrier. This animal had already fascinated me, arriving first thing with his owner from NSG, but upright and with supreme balance, with forelegs perched on the owner’s bicycle handlebars, back legs on the owner or similar. Here though the dog was absolutely and utterly fascinated cum obsessed with the water in the drain away shallow gutter in the yard as led to street drain. Some observed the dog might be looking at his reflection in the water (I doubted it given the dirty colour) or biting bubbles in the water was the attraction. Whatever, I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, as the dog was up and down the water channel, nose almost permanently down in the water, oblivious to everything/all around him.
And, other than shower (water still not properly hot/warm !), then evening meal that was it for our second day.
Day 3 – more doggy antics with a twist and amazing vineyard sites all to come.