Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 11

Wednesday SEPT 20th

Back to Au Vallon again today, no hardship for me as, I’ve said previously, I really like this place/terroir – can’t really explain that, just a personal ‘feeling’. Perhaps the key aspect of this day would come in the evening/night but let’s get through the day first !

Initially, first thing, we were back (in Au Vallon) with a difference – when I say ‘we’ in this instance/on this morning I’m referring to the Toyota ‘crew’, but even more specifically to myself and Irishman, Padhraic. My notes are a little vague on when exactly – could have been at some point yesterday, or possibly at breakfast on this day (doesn’t really matter per se) – but Padhraic had had a major, and potentially nightmare, occurrence of losing his bag (rucksack). When I say ‘losing’, it had disappeared and thus all manner of how it had come to vanish were broached and considered. As he was camping in the garden of the Clos des Reas house it was his habit to keep his bag, and valuables therein, with him during the day. His bag was absolutely key for him as it contained all his key items i.e including passport, money, phone etc etc. I really felt for him as the implications were horrendous. At breakfast, or maybe in the car, I’d suggested to Michel that as soon as we (in the Toyota) all arrived before the rest of the team that instead of getting involved in empty case distribution, or whatever, that Padhraic and myself hare off & retrace steps from where in Au Vallon the team had been the day before to search for his bag should it have been left in a row/somewhere. This we did but despite covering quite an area of rows we failed to find anything hence, for our morning (and the rest of the day) the bag, worryingly, remained missing/vanished.

As usual in picking terms we started out this morning by finishing off incomplete rows from the day before. This is an aspect I find were the French, in vendange terms, might differ from, say, the English work psyche – certainly for lunch ! Bit of a sweeping thought from me but I’m inclined to think an English approach (not necessarily to grape picking) might be to finish what had been started and then adjust for time afterwards whereas the French approach (which I stress I absolutely do not disapprove of 😉 ) is a time point is a time point e.g lunch means stop for lunch regardless and to some extent the end of day.

Whatever, after the initial rows we did two more passes that morning which initially I’d thought had taken us to lunch time – I do not wear a watch when picking nor carry my phone in the vines. I was a bit premature though as whilst we had now finished in Au Vallon there was time enough before lunch to return to Fontaine St Martin, this time for our first ‘go’ at the Pinot Noir. Before we exited Au Vallon though I had something of an amusing personal ‘triumph’ in that I managed to participate/help in ‘lugging’ the full cases of fruit onto the trailer behind slow moving tractor. The procedure here was slow moving tractor progressing down the rows of full cases, two guys on the trailer positioning/lifting the cases once on the trailer and two guys following at the rear of the trailer lifting the cases onto the trailer. Thus far as I’ve already recorded on days previously all my keen attempts to assist here had been kyboshed by Michel’s ‘excessive’, (if touchingly considerate) regard for my welfare (and he is 9 months older than me !). Anyway, on this occasion, he wasn’t about initially so I was required and seized my chance. Not too hard at all and a useful workout. A partial victoire !

I didn’t take a great deal of photos today – had already taken quite a few in Au Vallon on previous days such that there was nothing ‘new’ in the morning to prompt camera use. For some reason though today I did pictorially record lunch – although I can’t now make out what the ‘mains’ was !

Post lunch back to Fontaine St Martin, and the laden Pinot vines, the day sunny but cool. The afternoon seemed one of those that was particularly hard and a struggle for me such that I was ‘feeling it’ in fatigue terms by the finish. I had a wait by the Toyota though for the tractor crew to finish which was welcome, time employed to collect water butts, empty them, cups, etc etc and load the car. Not so welcome was Gabriel, by now elevated to piloting one of the tractors, joining us in the Toyota back to Vosne after two of the tractors again overnighted in Chevrey. Goodness me, could he talk, and did he – at volume all the way back to Vosne without pause, fortunately not to/at me !

For the evening I had an appointment in Beaune and with some very nice wines (already ‘reviewed’ on Burgundy Report). A most enjoyable evening but I didn’t really take note of passing time, or potential implications (silly me ☹), such that it was close to midnight when arriving back in silent, sleepy, nothing moving, Vosne. I’d erroneously assumed/thought the side gate on our house’s yard side of the domaine would be open. There are two large vehicle access gates for Mugneret-Gibourg, but at the side of those a small, ‘foot’, gate as it were. To my rapidly sinking chagrin this small side gate was locked, or closed, such that from the road side, I could not get it open. Doh !!!!! I was ‘stuck’! Short of making enough noise to potentially wake half the village, and make myself the most unpopular person in Vosne, and with the Gros family. Nothing for it but back to my car and attempting to sleep in it. At first I tried stretching out on the back seat but couldn’t get to sleep so switched to my drivers seat. I was hugely reluctant to consider reclining this as previously it had taken me much experimentation to get the seat elements to best suit. Reclining the passenger seat didn’t occur to me but would have been an option. At least it wasn’t too cold which was a blessing.


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