Tuesday – typed 30/9/23
Was up at 6.00 a.m. this day, start had been pre-advised at 8.00 a.m.
Matters went a little awry for yours truly before we set off as, mustering with others at the front of the domaine/in the yard, once again my attention was irresistibly drawn to the water obsessed Jack Russell terrier mentioned in my Day 2 words. Long a dog lover, ‘shaped’ by my Mother’s love of dogs which meant invariably as a family we always had one or two dogs, I went to stroke the very focussed terrier but, like lightning, before I had a chance to pull back my hand, he bit hard on my left forefinger gashing the skin and causing blood flow. The dog really was quick ! All sorts of thoughts of the likes of rabies, infection from the dog’s dirty water fascination, etc etc all passed quickly through my mind whilst I contemplated my bleeding, gashed, and quite/very painful finger. One of the more senior ladies, seeing my plight, insisted we return to the accommodation house ground floor room where a first aid kit was produced, my finger sprayed with something, then carefully plastered and bandaged up. Unfortunately, inside a hot, sweaty, glove the bandage didn’t last long and after a couple of replacements I gave up & did without. My finger was painful along the gash line for about a week but ok thereafter and no other ill effects – perhaps fortunately. My wife and daughter have, for years, been telling me off for stroking ‘strange dogs’ & I could just imagine their likely combined reactions of ‘told you so’ and mega amusement (as inevitably the case on my eventual return to the UK).
Once the above ‘distraction’ was over we once again headed to Vosne La Colombiere to conclude activities there from the previous afternoon. Once again the majority of the team were on foot, walking to the site whilst, slightly embarrassingly, Michel called out to yours truly, again insisting I take the Land Cruiser front seat – who was I to argue 😉. The rear of the Toyota always importantly carried our (plastic) water ‘barrels’, cups, and various other bits and pieces. We finished La Colombiere without incident or note circa mid-morning and now came some excitement ! Maybe not for the walking team who once again were on foot from La Colombiere to……….drum roll !!!!………..Richebourg Grand Cru, or maybe more accurately, Les Veroilles ou Richebourg, with our (the car individuals) entering the site through a gap in northern edge brick wall. Whilst we waited for the walking group to arrive one of the Gros vineyard tractors arrived (for subsequent case collecting) but my attention was drawn to another domaine already working in Richebourg adjacent to our rows. A smartly dressed lady clearly seemed to be in charge & readily exchanged pleasantries with yours truly whilst I took photos of elements of her team, some notably keen to have their pictures taken. I had no idea who this other team were until some days later when, showing Michel some of my photos, he explained (relating the historic family divison of, and holdings in, Richebourg) that the lady was Caroline Parent, and in another photo the older gentleman (with wrap around shades) was her father Francois Parent – of Domaine Parent, Pommard.
In my wildest vendange dreams, going back to Chassagne 2006, I’d never envisaged working in:- a) Vosne-Romanee; or b) a terroir such as Richebourg GC hence to be here was something of a ’pinch me’ moment. We worked here, with 2 row passes, until lunch. Once my initial excitement at being in Richebourg was over, & I was working, then ultimately it was just another set of vines etc. For my rows I wasn’t ultimately terribly/overly impressed by vines or grapes though. Michel did explain to me at one point that the vines belonged to an aunt in the family yet this lady would never allow replanting for some reason. Back to Vosne for lunch – so glad I wasn’t walking, and at same time feeling sorry for those who were – this was day 3 and, apart from the small team working other sites separately who were en vehicule, the majority had yet to experience transport ! Lunch main course meatballs and rice.
Back to the same area post lunch, but Richebourg had been finished, and now the southern element of Vosne premier cru Aux Brulees, adjacent to Richebourg, was to be the subject of our afternoon attentions. The rows here were long. I found the afternoon notably tiring & was asked a few times “Was I OK” – which made me wonder at my own appearance ! As we completed the last rows of Brulees, on a corner, as the road swings, and at the end of a row of vines was a memorial headstone to a Monsieur Ecard. I’d never seen anything like this in vines previously in any vendange. I was subsequently to learn the late J-F Ecard had been a domaine employee, and husband of senior lady employee, sub team leader/in vine triager, and bucket cleaner, Odile. I could only assume the location of the memorial stone perhaps reflected some particular spot of significance.
Halt called at 17.11 p.m. Back at the cuverie, ahead of the main, on foot, ‘pack’, I took the opportunity to grab some cuverie photos, had my first shave since arrival and, praise the lord, proper hot water was now available for the shower ! Pre supper, more than one person from the walking brigade, in passing mentioned on the return from Aux Brulees that someone had been asking about me !!! I was bemused by this but after a little thought had to assume it must be a roving Mr Nanson !
Our evening supper was notable for trouble and bad behaviour from one dining table which included a group of 20 something male Belgians, who’s in vine antics had already left me wholly unimpressed. Here they were throwing food around, very noisy, and just a collective, embarrassing, pain in the proverbial. I had intended to work on my laptop but, disgusted, at 21.00 hrs decided an early night was preferable. Unfortunately, considerable noise, continued until past 2.00 a.m. – not conducive to sleep. The evening had previously brought some thunder and eventually rain which became increasingly heavy for most of the night – wet weather gear seemingly would be the order of the day on the ‘morrow – mental note to self to get my rubber boots (‘wellies’ in England) from the car. The rain and its aftermath would ‘drive’ our activities on Day 4.