Catching up #3 – A Chablis Encore & the Burgundy water-table…

By billn on March 22, 2024 #degustation#travel pics#travels in burgundy 2024#vintage 2024

In January, I really didn’t have enough time in 3 weeks to visit all the Chablis domaines – or at least all the ones in my current list as it now extends to over 100 domaines! So I was back in ‘the north’ in March – with another trip planned for May!

In May, I’ll be mixing it up with a few visits in Irancy too.

La Chapelle de Vaupelteigne - March 2024
The view to La Chapelle de Vaupelteigne

On the Sunday I was in the Côte d’Or and I have to say that the flatter vineyards in the Côte de Beaune looked ready for ducks – there were a lot of vine ‘feet’ under water. Whilst the water in Chablis’ river Serein looked high on Monday, I still wasn’t prepared for the road closures on Tuesday as the river burst its banks to fill many of the flood-plains in the area. The rain hadn’t been so heavy in Chablis, rather in the surrounding Morvan countryside – as much as 70-80 miles away – and it takes about 3 days for the floodwaters to rise in Chablis.

Chablis itself wasn’t too badly affected but the village of La Chapelle de Vaupelteigne (above) was under water – only partly accessible for me by taking a route descending the hillside from Beine.

The weather calmed – indeed this week we have sunshine in Beaune – it’s a nice change! For now, Burgundians can’t right now complain about a lack of water – it’s double what was seen at the same stage in 2022 and 2023 – but instead they can complain that it’s 22°C in the afternoon 🙂

T-shirts already !

By billn on January 26, 2024 #travels in burgundy 2024#vintage 2024

Chablis views this week…

The weather has been very topsy-turvy in Chablis for the last 10 days – you could go as far as to say bizarre!

Last week I arrived to a hoarfrost – all the trees were white – but there was no snow. Tuesday morning when I did a short jog, it was -8°C. Tuesday evening when I did a long jog – it was warmer but still minus and there were snowflakes in the air. Wednesday lunchtime it was 15°C but Thursday morning we were back to -4°C !!

This week we seem to have settled around 13-14°C daytime temperatures and a lot of the buildings haven’t yet recovered from last week’s cold – so it’s often warmer outside. Yesterday was rainy – so nothing to see – today for an hour we had sunshine – and what did I see in l’Homme Mort? People pruning in t-shirts…

We have become accustomed to seeing that in recent years for a few days in February – but it’s not yet even February – pff!

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange – the end !! Days 15-17…

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on December 05, 2023 #vintage 2023

Wall of Pinot Noir grapes for my cutting after leaf stripping
Wall of Pinot Noir grapes for my cutting after leaf stripping

Sunday-Tuesday, Sept 24th-26th

As with our previous Sunday at the end of Week 1 this was a free, non-working, day. Despite that I was up at my usual hour and was again on my own in the room as Chef, Jean-Michel, had again disappeared in his pickup vehicle, taking the opportunity to have the day off at home with his family. As had become usual, the first into the kitchen element of our dining cave were tractor driver and long term domaine harvest regular Philippe and myself. I only managed to ‘beat’ Phillipe into the kitchen area once and not by much ! He’s an incredibly nice guy, ex Sapeur-Pompier officer, disciplined, neat, tidy and organised in all he did, and one of my favourite people from the vendange. We were soon joined, again as usual, by Michel (Gros) and another ‘senior’, older guy – a long time harvest regular, Jean-Pierre – a guy of few words; a sub team leader and triageist in the vines. J-P was to leave later that morning with an impressive amount of domaine wine loaded into his car. I envied his ability to take material advantage of the vendangeur discount (well worth having !) available from the domaine when I knew UK Customs Import restrictions would limit me doh !

I had a number of activities lined up that I wanted/needed to address hence headed off to Beaune circa 9.00 a.m. My first, very necessary, ‘visit’ was to the BP Petrol Station on the south side of Beaune as I’d not bought any fuel since arriving in Southern England before subsequently boarding my ferry to France. My French leg journey, return trips to Beaune, and taxiing services for Florient and Padhraig had combined to trigger the fuel reserve warning on my thirsty BMW when I’d last been in it. I’ve always preferred to find BP stations since owning my previous BMW from new for BP’s Ultimate best fuel.

Post refuelling I headed around the Beaune ‘peripherique’ (as I like to call it) and just off the western side parked up under trees and walked into town, sleepier than usual on this day of the week although a goodly number of folk were out and about enjoying the nice sunny weather. My destinations were two fold:- the superb retailer which is Athenaeum ( Athenaeum) for wifely ‘holiday’ gifts’, and to find a souvenir type shop which might sell the stone coasters featuring domaine or wine ‘transfer’ imprints. Domestically we’d had a few of the latter for some years but some of them had cracked or been otherwise damaged. I ‘struck gold’ in Athenaeum as, after buying a cloth tote bag with nice vineyard scene which would go down well at home, I then belatedly noticed an item I’d been meaning to acquire for many a year. This is a Rat de Cave candlestick, modelled on those used throughout France in the 18th and 19th centuries, for lighting in wine cellars. Mrs MdMdlV is, domestically, a very keen afficionado of many things candle and tea light related – always a concern at potentially burning one’s home down ! But, I knew I’d move very quickly, if not instantaneously, into very ‘good books’ on my return to the UK if I produced said Rat de Cave – quickly purchased. Delighted with this I went back through the Place Carnot and onto the Rue Monge before I found a shop (one of only a few open as a Sunday) selling souvenirs, wine related artefacts, kitchenware etc which, happily, had a decent display of the desired coasters outside. The gentleman proprietor was happy to accompany back outside from the front of the shop and take my chosen four coasters from his display – two of the four chosen by me as relating to personal association as featuring Domaine Michel Noellat, 2019 & 2020 harvest employers.

So, good progress, two of my three tasks suitably accomplished I headed back out of Beaune to the Leclerc supermarket, off the D974, on the retail park before/adjacent to the A6. Here my ‘mission’ was twofold, namely:-
1) with a shopping list formed before I left the UK to acquire various regional products (tinned & otherwise), confectionery & drink (Cremants); and
2) get myself some food for lunch and dinner (sandwiches, crisps etc). Michel had politely made clear to me at breakfast that, as a non working day, lunch and dinner would not be provided – not a problem as I’d already assumed just that. I always enjoy a saunter around the Leclerc, a superior retailer to the Nuits Intermarche. I hadn’t really intended to buy any wine alongside my other shopping but, when idly ‘researching’ the Wine Sections, as I passed by on my way to my list purchases I couldn’t resist the surprise sighting (not expecting to see such a name in the Leclerc) of just a few (4) top shelf bottles of Domaine Laurent & Karen Boussey (Monthelie) 2020 Meursault ‘Les Meurgers’ . I’d had two previously enjoyable visits to the above domaine in Monthlie and, co-located, that of Denis Boussey, Laurent’s father. The wines of Laurent, a keen vineyard photographer, imho are markedly superior to his father’s. After my surprised double take at seeing the above bottles I did a quick mental calculation of how many bottles I could consider within the overall number of bottles I would take back to the UK & swiftly, with hand rubbing type satisfaction, removed three from the shelf. I would add to these later on my way around the store with two bottles of Domaine Vincent Prunier 2020 Auxey-Duresses Blanc, Auxey a village who’s wines I’ve long been keen on. I would have ideally liked to call, as in previous years, at Domaine Diconne in Auxey but had realised, reluctantly, that would not be possible in terms of time available and how many bottles I could repatriate without potentially falling foul of UK Customs.

Quite satisfied with my morning’s activities which would go a long way to setting me up for a smooth, post vendange departure ‘as and when’, I cruised back to Vosne. I’d seen just a handful of domaines in the vines heading to Beaune and similarly on my way back mostly, but not all, on the flat lands east of the route nationale.

Entering the domaine premises, having parked the car opposite, I headed for the dining cave intending to eat my sandwich lunch there and get one of my remaining stash of beers from one of the fridges. I was a little taken aback surprised, and not best pleased in truth, given the advices first thing of need to provide for oneself, to find lunch preparation under way for the remaining (the annoying, problematic, youth had all but one below departed on Saturday) Belgian element of three (Mother Francoise, the middle aged lady sax player, whom I’d never really taken to, her daughter, and the remaining 20 something pest, Bastian, perhaps her son who I was quite sure was one of the ring leaders in past bothers – he seemed to have lost much of his past cocky bravado now he was on his own), Philippe, Jean-Pierre and Michel. I readied myself to decline an anticipated invite but such was not forthcoming – rather rude to say the least I thought – so I headed down to the opposite end of the cellar to ‘enjoy’ my sandwiches, crisps and beer. Hum ! Finishing my lunch, I headed back through the kitchen, to my car & then bedroom to get laptop, camera, notebook etc to work thro the afternoon on stuff for Bill whilst following UK Sport on the internet. Coming back from my car I met Michel coming out thro the yard gates onto the street. He told me chattily he was off to visit his son in another village property he, Michel, owned in Vosne. I knew, or thought, Michel had three sons from his first marriage but chatting he surprised me by saying that he had 4 sons (Pierre, another who works in private banking in Paris, and two others). Michel further surprised, if not amazed me, in telling me the son he was off to visit had broken fibia and tibia in one leg in Clos des Reas on the first day of the vendange via jumping or similar over a row of vines – that was what I understood anyway. A goodly element of my surprise was that I’d no idea he’d had said son working with us on Day 1 or of the accident which had needed a hospital visit/treatment. Wishing his son a speedy recovery we parted but not before Michel reminded me there would be no evening meal – an ‘interesting’ comment after my lunch experience but one I took ‘on the chin’ ! Quasi related, I’d assumed Michel lived in Vosne, if not in the old, multi floored, house adjacent to Mugneret-Gibourg we were using, but this was not so. For the vendange Michel did indeed use some rooms off the first landing before the first floor my room and another were on. The ladies had rooms further up on two more floors. I can’t recall how it come out but someone told me he actually lived in Beaune with his second wife. This was mentioned to me as my informant, and have absolutely no recall who this was (honest !), also imparted that the 2nd Mrs Gros had no desire to live in a sleepy hollow wine village. During one of our Toyota trips Michel had laughingly said to me he wanted me to return to my wife in full health to which my response had been my wife was probably more bothered about clothes shopping than my vendange health. That comment had brought ready and amused shared agreement from Michel whilst he was driving. Recall of his comment at wives shopping came back to me when I was told of his maison being in Beaune. In a later conversation he told me where his Beaune house was – without too much detail near to Parc de la Bouzaise which I recalled from a randonee around the Beaune vineyards.

The afternoon passed peacefully & without interruption, the working yard of the domaine quiet outside the end of the cellar I was sat in for wi-fi range. Eventually, and thinking I should make myself scarce if there were to be supper for others, I initially retreated to my room with my working stuff before quickly sneaking back for a little bread & cheese plus the remains, from my second Beaune visit (before today), of a bottle of L & A Lignier, 2006 Morey St.Denis 1er ‘Cuvée Romain Lignier’ – very much enjoyed with my sandwiches, bread and cheese !

And so to bed for a rare early night. To come, at last, our final working day (or part thereof).

I’d meant to be up for 6.00 a.m. but slept to 6.10 before being in the dining cave for 6.45. It was at this point, from Phillipe I think, I finally learnt this would be our final morning. Breakfast included a pleasant surprise in that Michel, bless him – what a nice man, had already been out to a local boulangerie coming back with two large bags – one of pain au chocolats, the other croissants (and all good sized, ‘generous’ examples). Invited to help myself I happily tucked into a pain au chocolat with my Liptons breakfast tea which, after initial mornings of black coffees, had become my preferred daily starting drink of choice.

There still seemed to be plenty of us milling around the domaine gates pre departure, if not quite as before, but I also noted quite a few previously familiar faces to be missing – my friend Angela was no longer with us, nor was FonFon, Irishman Padhraig or Justine and, not to be missed, were the young couple of annoying work shy, do nothing, girl and boyfriend. I guessed that perhaps due to our vendange being protracted, and this being a Monday of a new working week lay behind the reduced team and absence of previous personnel. With the Citroen Jumpy not required I was happy to be back in prime position in Michel’s Toyota Land Cruiser in which we departed behind the minibuses and large white van, latter piloted as usual by the ever-engaging Flo of amusing bright blue framed spectacles.

Gabriel was still with us & as always giving us the benefit of his wisdom and expertise on anything and everything. Today he had again, for the first time in many days, brought his sweet dog with him although she remained in, or tied to the bumper of his car, at the domaine. There seemed to be something of an unedifying background to this dog which had deeply upset me when Gabriel first brought it with him on what I think was his second day. On that morning, which was wet and cold, I’d noticed it, before we departed for the morning, fastened to the rear bumper of his tatty, aged, dark red Peugeot 206 in the parking area. I’d tried, as is my wont, to befriend it (not scarred by my earlier Jack Russell experience) but had been a little shocked at the manner in which it continually pulled away from me, whilst cringing to the ground in highly subservient manner, and slightly wagging its tail in a pathetic way. I’d immediately taken the view that the animal, from appearance a Malinois type cross (but somewhat smaller than a full Malinois) had been, or was being, badly treated, if not beaten. On that initial day I’d tackled Gabriel directly at how the dog was behaving, and why that might be, making it quite clear I was upset and far from impressed. His response was matter of fact & that he understood my asking but said the dog was completely different with women i.e good, but had been ill treated before it came into his ownership. I wasn’t necessarily convinced and during the night that followed that day I had struggled to sleep properly thinking & worrying about the dog. If Gabriel had offered it to me I would have had a decision to make but would have taken it readily and if not able to give it a home myself (my cat back in England would not have been impressed) would have found it a decent one. On this day, in the little time before we headed to the Hautes-Cotes I did manage to make initial friends with, and show some human affection to Jessie, as was her name, when I was also joined by the very sweet Italian girl owner of Acho who certainly did know how to properly treat a dog.

The day was bright enough in Vosne as we left but cool & without any sunshine, the Toyota’s dash temp reading 8°C as we travelled. The Hautes-Cotes was a tad gloomy on arrival at the site we’d left before Saturday lunch – our 4th separate domaine HCDN terroir which I assumed was ‘Topet’ the fruit of which goes into the generic HCDN Rouge. We parked, as we’d done on the Saturday on the corner edge of a large grassy clearing just above the vines which dropped away down slope away from us. Initially, we strolled to the points in our initial rows from Saturday afternoon where we’d stopped for the day and recommenced to finish those rows off. I was again in tandem with the bespectacled young French guy and a new individual, a middle aged Afro-Caribbean lady. The latter who seemed of an unfriendly disposition, and not to know anyone, turned out to be a bit of a pest and annoying. Principally this was because she stopped on several occasions for lengthy (and loud) conversations on her mobile phone but when that wasn’t frustrating enough she failed to work suitably in tandem with myself and the French guy, i.e from and to the correct points between post sections. Early on in proceedings I decided that as it was our last day ‘that life was too short’ to let her bother me further and just to concentrate on myself. Finishing the first rows at the bottom of the vineyard we had a decent water break rest before turning around and working back up hill in new rows towards the vehicles. At one point as we worked Acho suddenly appeared beside me chasing something in the grass which turned out to be a mouse or vole. As he was about to grab it by my feet I managed to deflect him away with the prey animal escaping under a bucket and around a case thro the row to its other side. I thought I’d saved his target but learnt shortly thereafter he’d subsequently caught and eaten it !! There was plenty of volume of Pinot here again as the case across most of the Hautes-Cotes terroir but here again occasional rot to require disciplined self triage and quite a lot of what my colleagues called ‘rose’ bunches, not properly ripe or suitably coloured such that quite an amount of this stuff was dumped on the ground. At one point, and towards what was to become the conclusion, my group was joined in cutting/picking by both Michel and Philippe.

Come c11.00 a.m. I was a little startled to hear a final finish called as I’d been expecting we’d work to at least c12.00/12.30 & possibly a little beyond if that was necessary to get us to a suitable draw a line point (as had occasionally happened with Arlaud & M Noellat). As it was we left some yards of our final rows unfinished which I assume the domaine staff would complete later. Naturally my colleagues were keen to head back to Vosne but, as tradition for a vendange conclusion, not before various greenery was gathered to decorate/attach to the vehicles. Before everyone left and I missed my chance I shouted entreaties to request a final group photo shot – not just for myself but also for the Domaine as sometime in the last day or so Juliette had asked me if I would share my vendange photos for the Domaine’s use – ready agreement of course. From the two Group photos I took here I subsequently counted 24 individuals. To be added for final headcount would be me, Gabriel, Philippe, Sofiane and Jerome (the latter 4 not available for the photos as in the vines collecting cases onto the tractors and trailers). So, as our finale, 28 of us without including Michel, Pierre, Juliette and their other domaine employees. There were 3 additional guys helping in the cuverie so as I saw it we finished as approximately a reduced group of 31 from a peak headcount of somewhere between 50-60 in week 1.

After the minibuses and white van had disappeared, I enjoyed a little welcome time alone with my reflective thoughts waiting by the Toyota once I’d collected & stowed in the rear the extraneous stuff such as water panniers, cups, a couple of spare cases, one or two items of clothing and a couple of the small blue tripod seats. This short quiet time was a brief, pleasant, interlude during which I watched both a hawk and then some noisy jays along the tree/hedge line on the vineyard edge. I was initially concerned, waiting for the final guys, then amused, to note my camera had ‘expired’ after the Group shots. As subsequently confirmed the battery had finally gone flat, without me noticing the reducing power level, but after lasting the full vendange – well done Canon ! I’ve owned my Canon G16 from 2014 thus, whilst maybe now not the last word in upto date camera technology, it has ‘survived’ quite some ‘abuse’ (wet, dirt etc) and given sterling service through 8 harvests. I’d like to be more ‘into’ photography but am not and, in truth, use my camera little outside my vendanges and the odd family holiday hence for now, and with the G16 still going, find it hard to justify expense of an upgrade, particularly when there’s always more wine to buy !

Eventually, with Philippe and Gabriel taking the laden tractor/trailer combos back to Vosne, I was joined by Michel, Sofiane and Jerome, three fine chaps all, for our final exit from the delightful, much enjoyed, Hautes-Cotes and return to Vosne via the now familiar route through the residential outskirts of Nuits St Georges, then the vines, to the Domaine.

An earlier than usual lunch was salad starter, carbonara, cheese and fruit. I was pleased to see Gabriel, who’d beaten us back to Vosne with the first tractor departure, and was amongst the greedier element first into lunch, had brought dog Jessie into the dining cave (the other dogs were commonly present at lunch/dinner) and that she seemed very happy and enjoyed the odd titbit passed her way as well as being fussed over by folk passing her end of table position. Bless. Post wine and coffee, and back outside, quite a queue had formed to go into the office (bureau) to one by one see Juliette to receive wages and the complimentary ‘bonus’ 3 bottle box of wine before those then leaving (most folk) said their goodbyes – for me this notably included Sofiane (a really nice guy), young man of few words Julian, and originally from Lebanon Clodagh who was amongst the first to nicely chat to me on Day 1, and was one of our few who’d worked the full vendange. I’d agreed with Juliette I was happy to wait to collect my wages the following day – no rush.

After folk had largely drifted away, including room-mate Chef, & personally at something of a loose end, with my thoughts already turning to my own departure (I’d previously decided Tuesday having secured Juliette’s agreement I would be ok to stay one more night in my room but detecting I’d be pushing it to ask for longer !) I started my in room, and then to car, packing – separating work and non-work attire, and with the worn, dirty gear, I’d piled into a corner to all go in black bin liner. I binned my oldest, splitting, and well-worn pair of knee pads along with gloves past their further useful use date, keeping only my now favourite De Walt knee pads and good gloves. I also decided on my travelling clothing, keeping that to one side. With time to kill, and not enthused to get on my laptop immediately, I set off to the cuverie, & whilst passing through the shared yard saw the Mugneret-Gibourg team pressing in the entrance to their cuverie. The Mugneret-Gibourg sisters had from Day 1 been super friendly nice with/to me. We never saw each other without exchanging the time of day, or more besides. Lovely people. Their small cuverie team of 4/5, two of whom were also female, were similarly supa friendly, always calling greetings across the yard (their cuverie door was almost opposite the kitchen entrance end of the Gros dining cave). On this afternoon, intrigued by the pressing, after a few days were the M-G cuverie work had been ‘quiet’, seemingly completed, I wandered across to be told they were pressing Ruchottes-Chambertin grapes – wow ! The cuverie smell was headily to die for. Leaving them to continue I dived thro the Gros cave to the far end, up into the domaine yard proper, and into the Gros cuverie where I found Pierre had made a short visit – congratulations on the birth of Constance were in order & received shyly with thanks.

I can’t recall exactly what I did for supper – think it might just have been 3 or 4 of us finishing off leftovers. My car was as packed as it could be other than stuff needed for overnight and morning ablutions hence, after I’d used my laptop & wi-fi for the final time to book a DFDS Calais – Dover 18.00 hrs Tuesday ferry, I turned in for my last night. The old multi floored Gros house was now eerily quiet with myself the only occupier. All beds bar mine were stripped ready for laundry and rubbish had been collected to bin bags.

Just myself, Philippe who would also leave that morning for his Belfort home, and Michel at my final breakfast. Disappointingly, if unsurprisingly, the pain au chocolats from Monday morning had all gone so I had to content myself, no hardship, with Michel’s entreaties to finish off the croissants. I mused on my timetable for the day. I reasoned I should aim to be away from Vosne by approx. 11.00 a.m, to pace myself ( and the car for fuel economy), and allowing for comfort break stops, to arrive Calais ferry port check in by 17.00 hrs. I had scope in my UK wine import allowance to allow for a last 6 pack so decided to head for Domaine Arlaud to say my goodbyes there and, if possible, acquire some of their HCDN Chardonnay which I’ve always enjoyed (if not for a few years). After Arlaud I would have time to come back to Gros, collect my wages and wines, then head for the autoroute with a pitstop at the Nuits Intermarche to buy some lunch. I already agreed a Southern England overnight stop at my Aunt’s in Sevenoaks, Kent from where I would, on Wednesday, complete the last leg of my c650 mile return journey to North West England.

Heading for my car I met the just arriving Juliette (and Prunelle) and confirmed I’d be back for wages etc. Off to Morey, taking a route through the vines from the Vougeot roundabout, to Chambolle, then Morey passing Bonnes-Mares and MSD Ruchots amongst other terroirs. Dropping down thro Morey to the route nationale I caught, without being able to properly take in, with eyes needing to be on the street, a quick glimpse of the new, completed, Dujac premises extension which had been a building site when I last saw in 2020. At Arlaud cheery greetings from the cuverie guys, a great bunch, notably Mathieu and Climent. Cyprien turned out to be in a serious looking meeting with his main office lady but broke off to speak. To buy some wine would be problematic he explained he would need to pull one of the guys off what they were doing to label, foil, and pack what I wanted. This clearly would not work for me so I said I would leave, hopefully for 2024. Cyp professed himself very happy with the harvest – in line with my experience – quantity and quality. I bade my farewells and headed back to Vosne to be invited into the office by Juliette and given my wages. To my surprise, as I’d assumed without too much thought I’d be paid direct to my UK bank account, my wages were in cash – net of the cost of the discounted wines I’d subscribed for pre-vendange. I didn’t want to rudely study the paperwork but quickly noted I’d received my largest harvest salary by some distance even after paying for the aforesaid wines – nice ! In line of course with the hours worked as also by some distance my longest harvest worked. From this point it was just a matter of my wines being brought out on a palate for loading into my car reversed into the yard, confirming to Juliette I would send her all my harvest photos which she was keen to have, and then saying my goodbyes to all present – regrettably not including Michel who was unexplained absent – a pity.

And so, regretfully as in all good things must come to an end, I left the Rue des Communes for the last time. Quick ‘pitstop’ at the Nuits Intermarche to acquire lunch & bottled water then across town to join the A31 at the Nuits interchange heading north, soon leaving Burgundy behind, and eventually to Calais, just needing a foot down, quick spurt in the final kilometres to arrive on time.

And so endeth my 14th vendange, my first with the most excellent Domaine Michel Gros, courtesy of the well-timed initial opportunity alert from Bill which enabled me to ‘sign up’ at the outset. Thank you Bill, and for publishing my photo illustrated experiences. My favourite vendange ? Not really, not because I didn’t enjoy it – I absolutely did – but because I don’t have a favourite. Each harvest is a differing unique experience. What set this one apart was a new domaine, the manner in which the domaine conducted the harvest which was very professional, a very well-paced working environment with our never being worked unduly hard, weekend breaks, excellent accommodation and meals (up there with the best I’ve experienced), super people with Michel Gros just a fabulous stand out supa nice man, and odd quirks for me such as this being the first of fourteen harvests were I didn’t (need to) get involved in such as bucket cleaning (and was actively told not to !). New terroir experiences were very welcome, Richebourg wow (!) and, whilst ‘purists’ and others might look down their noses and/or be ‘sniffy’ about the Hautes-Cotes, I just loved being up there and experiencing those terroirs. To the domaine, and most of my fellow vendangeurs, thank you – it was wonderful; hope to see you all again next year.

I think I deserve a glass or two of Burgundy now – what shall I open 😊 ?


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 14

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 22, 2023 #vintage 2023

Saturday SEPT 23rd

No, this wouldn’t be our last day yet. I’d not heard any whispers as to when we’d be ‘done’ so onwards and upwards again to the Hautes-Cotes and to the same site from yesterday – which I’d taken to be ‘En Fretoilles’. Seemed a lot cooler first thing on this morning, the Toyota’s dash digital temp reading 7/8 degrees C, and which started cloudy, grey and overcast. As mentioned in my Day 13 words we’d ‘lost’ Pierre Gros some days earlier due to his wife’s confinement &, as always after Pierre’s absence, before we left Vosne Michel left instructions for the cuverie team in his absence. I never ascertained the nature of the instructions but, from what I saw from a distance, such looked very comprehensive, filling more than one side of a page of an A4 writing pad. Once again, from the car during our journey out of NSG towards Meuilley, I saw 2/3 small wild deer moving along a field hedge line – safe from the Sunday chasse on this day.

Once we arrived Michel went on ahead from the parking area whilst we sorted ourselves out with buckets and personal ‘equipment’ – in my case secateurs, gloves, knee pads and camera with my drink cup clipped to the belt of my pants. Making our way through the trees and down into the vineyard I was much amused to see Michel ahead of us – I say amused as, at the end (or beginning !) of a row some way in front of/below us he was on his large mobile phone whilst standing on an upturned empty case looking into the distance. All looked slightly comical but what I guessed he was doing was looking to sight a far-off tractor on the other side of the vineyard (hence his wanting height !) and presumably to sort out, and make sure of, empty case distribution along the rows we’d be working on. In terms of sub teams I can’t recall exactly now but believe there to have been certainly 3, possibly 4. We were still seeing a few departures and one or two new faces. The Hautes-Cotes weather first thing mirrored that we’d left behind in Vosne i.e cloudy, grey & overcast yet no overt threat or sign of rain. Certainly jumper and/or jacket weather.

There seemed to be a bit of ‘messing about’ in terms of setting up teams to specific rows of vines but eventually we got started. I was paired (doubled up) with a young, diffident, bespectacled French guy of few words who’d only recently joined & who was taking no chances with the weather dressed, similarly to myself, in navy cagoule and over trousers. We worked well in tandem, of similar ability/speed, albeit with few words exchanged. Long rows here as I may have said previously, and with a slight curve on them, and downslope topography, we couldn’t sight the end of the rows until very close which mentally seemed to make the rows seem even longer. Plenty of leaf stripping required. Sizeable volume of fruit again albeit some rot evident requiring a careful approach and self- triage of affected bunches. As the morning wore on the weather improved to become sunny, warmer and with some blue sky before reverting again to grey and cloudy as we came up to lunch time. During the spell of nicer weather at one point we were distracted by the sound of (non jet) aero engines. Such came from a number of historic (WW2 ?) vintage looking aeroplanes, maybe 8-10, in loose formation, none bomber size large, which flew lowish above us across the vines from the direction of Arcenant towards Marey-les-Fussey and beyond causing us all to stop and watch. No one seemed to know what these planes were all about, presumably on their way to/from some sort of display/historic event. My own knowledge of historic aircraft was lacking, French ones even more, so as to prevent any sort of identification, and nor did I hear any knowledgeable comment from any of the others. An interesting diversion nevertheless – one never knows what one might see during a vendange ! We also had overflights here from one or two birds of prey. At the end of the row, with welcome drinks break, I was much amused to see the elderly owner of lively pooch Onyx giving the dog some welcome canine hydration by Onyx slurping his adept fill of water from paper cup refilled a couple of times. Onyx was a bit of a scream with us, seemingly of inexhaustible energy, very friendly, and always ready for ‘play’, with his ‘party piece’ being if one approached him with a view to a stroke he would stand, tail wagging, until one got very close whereupon he’d bark, jump back, and then tear off in a circle at speed with more excitable barking, wanting to be chased, before coming to a halt, panting, tail wagging ready to have the same play all over again. Very engaging & very much a fun dog.

Back to Vosne for lunch in the Citroen Jumpy again with young Justine from Alencon as chauffeur, Michel not wanting me to be detained waiting for the Toyota guys even though I’d have been happy to hang about

Post lunch a surprise ! Justine and boyfriend weren’t working the afternoon as due to leave later (that wasn’t the surprise !) so the Jumpy crew were reduced to self, Angela, and FonFon. I might have returned to the Toyota but seeing Angela and FonFon sitting in the Jumpy I thought “why not” and with a tad of initiative got behind the wheel. Michel signalled he was ok with this and once I’d learnt where the handbrake was (the opposite of where I’d expected) we were free to go. In this, my 14th vendange, this was the first time I’d been ‘allowed’ to drive anything (other than my own car !). Quite a nippy little machine, my only slight alarm coming on our route across the vines from Vosne to Nuits when, on a very rough section of vineyard track, whilst seeking to avoid the larger pot holes, I inadvertently dipped a wheel briefly off the tarmac to the briefest consternation of my passengers but kept the thing on the straight and narrow 😉. We’d been up to the Hautes-Cotes that often knowing the route wasn’t an issue, even remembering the last section of rough track through the woods above Chevrey to the morning’s site, but all three of us were somewhat surprised when we got to the parking area to find no sign of anyone else or any other vehicles !!! We sat there for what seemed quite a while but just when I was beginning to worry that perhaps we should be somewhere else (!) the minibuses and van arrived from the opposite direction we’d come from – phew !

Once again, we had to cope, as on the previous day, with rain starting to fall just before we were about to start on the afternoon rows, requiring under cover shelter in the same copse of pines as previously. Some person or individuals had clearly been camping or similar in this sheltered copse as the remains of a fire were visible along with various elements of litter including drinks cans. Naughty. The rain soon blew over allowing us to set too on the next rows below those from the morning but against a cloudy grey sky albeit there was no further rain to bother us. The stand out feature of the afternoon for me was another quite hilarious doggy moment. This involved both Acho and Onyx who at one point suddenly started excitable, and almost violent scrabbling & then digging, with much excitable whining and the odd bark, in the grassy middle between two rows. Quite what caused this wasn’t clear to me but someone suggested a mouse, vole or similar. The two dogs had their own gradually increasing size of hole close to each other but both went ‘at it’ for quite some minutes, oblivious to the grape picking going on around them. Acho seemed to tire, or lose interest, more quickly but Onyx persisted until he’d excavated a larger hole than his companion (large enough to get a human foot in) before he too seemed to decide he wasn’t going to achieve anything other than very mucky paws and face ! A very engaging and amusing distraction. My own sub team finished our rows before the other teams so went to help wrap up with the laggards.

Coming up to 16.00 hrs I was a tad surprised we were shifted to a wholly new site, roughly back in the direction of Au Vallons, but accessed from going deeper into the woods. The land here initially sloped gently downwards from our grassy parking spot before a sharper, almost roller coaster type dip about half way down then with a rise to the wooded edge on the far side. Again high trained vines, fully grassed areas between the rows, wide enough for tractor passage. We worked until a halt was called at the usual time (would have been somewhere between 17.00hrs – 17.30hrs) by which time we were probably about a third or more down the rows. I had become increasingly irritated (kept to myself), as the afternoon wore on to the close, by a young female, probably early 20s, track suited, make up, nail polish etc. She and her similar in type boyfriend had joined us a day or two before and I hadn’t noticed previously but this ‘young lady’ was extremely work shy, and some, just seeming to hang around her boyfriend or ‘fiddle about’ in the cases of grapes ‘pretending’ to triage. This pair, her and boyfriend, were notable also for being amongst the first individuals to have ‘their noses rapidly in the trough’ at lunchtime, and greedy with it. If our table had run out of bread there was absolutely no question of either of them getting off their posteriors to go and cut some more – as the rest of us regularly did icon. We were to see a lot more of their behaviours on our next working day and, whilst the guy picked fairly solidly, his girlfriend continued to show her lack of desire such that ultimately I inevitably came to the conclusion she was ‘conning’ the domaine in terms of pay, benefits etc for practically zero effort/return. If we’d continued much longer my ‘patience’ would have ‘cracked’ and I’d have been moved to say something but as it happened that didn’t come about.

Once the finish call came we, as just 3 of us, (self, super Angela, and FonFon) had the Citroen Jumpy smartly away before the other vehicles and lead the ‘convoy’ of the other vehicles all the way back to Vosne. We’d have been the first back into the parking area at the domaine but I made a tactical error as we came into Vosne. From the start of the vendange the street on which the domaine sat had been made one way only (from north to south) by temporary road sign by the Mairie. As a consequence, throughout the vendange when we returned to Vosne at lunchtime/evening (and I was previously Michel’s passenger) from the south we’d taken a quasi circular route to the left of the Mairie, past Domaine Georges Noellat and others, continued a short way, then turned right down a narrow street to come out facing the Liger-Belair bar/restaurant/accommodation building I’ve referred to in one of my earlier diary words (where we’d watched the France v. Uruguay World Cup rugby one evening in week 1). Turning right there it was only yards to Domaines Mugneret-Gibourg and Michel Gros. Being well behaved (generally) and law abiding, whilst I noticed the one-way street sign had gone as we came into Vosne past Clos des Reas, I wasn’t confident I should ‘break the habits’ of the vendange and take the direct route up the street to the domaine. Thus I took the route above we’d been using all vendange……………but as the only vehicle to do so as my minibus and van chauffeuring colleagues seized their moment such, to my chagrin on behalf of my passengers, we were the last vehicle into the domaine parking area having been the lead vehicle all the way from the Hautes-Cotes – doh ☹ !!!

That was essentially ‘it’ for this day, with a number of departures of folk we would not see again, other than, when logging onto the wi-fi for my evening home-work, I noted I’d received an email ‘circular’ from the domaine (Juliette) to the vendangeur emailing list which was a forwarding mail from Pierre (Gros) with family photos and the following narrative:-

“Annonce naissance Constance”
Bonjour à tous,
Camille et moi sommes heureux de vous annoncer la naissance de notre fille Constance jeudi à 8h31.
Elle pèse 3,3kg et se porte bien. Son grand frère Jules est très fier, quoiqu’encore un peu intrigué.
Vous trouverez ci-joint quelques photos de la merveille.
A bientôt
Pierre et Camille GROS

To save use of Google Translate, the above was the happy announcement from proud parents, Pierre Gros & wife, Camille, of the birth the previous Thursday of new daughter Constance, weight 3.3 kg, as a sister to big brother, Jules, the latter described as very proud if not a little intrigued. Bless. I’m afraid I don’t know the age of young Jules but a nice and happy ending to our Day 14 with a new vendange bebe!


2023 Volume!

By billn on November 11, 2023 #the market#vintage 2023

2023 Corton-Charlemagne
2023 Corton-Charlemagne

In Burgundy, 2023 production equalled the record reached in 2018, notably for white wine, while output was expected at a good level in Beaujolais despite some hail storms, it said.
Source: Reuters

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 13

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 08, 2023 #vintage 2023

Post descending vehicles pre work start HCDN Fontaine St Martin

Friday SEPT 22nd

Into Day 13 and on we go with no sign of a finish, blimey !

The morning had dawned bright & sunny with blue skies greeting us as, again, we returned to the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Fontaine St Martin vineyard (‘HCDN FSM’) and its Pinot Noir – a Domaine M Gros Monopole.

Gabriel was his irrepressible non-stop talkative self in the back of the Toyota en route; the phrase “give it a rest” might have been coined for him ! Not much to say about our morning’s activities as pretty much the same as previously on this site. Same sub team for me which I was happy with. The Pinot Noir grapes from vines high up on this site were largely of pretty high quality – there was some rot to be dealt with but not much. I can’t recall the similar sort of incidence of burned berries and dry, brown leaves as had on occasion been evident on the Cote below. Whilst my few photos of the morning show the sunshine and blue skies, it was also pretty cool (as in temperature !) which is reflected in the attire, including footwear, exhibited by my colleagues. Incidentally, there are a couple of photos with a chap in blue pants and short boots, in one wearing a white tee shirt, another with him in orange jacket. Both photos have the same gent with a blueish rucksack on his back. This is Irishman Padhraic of lost, then found, bag ‘fame’.

A quick word or two on the domaine’s wet weather wardrobe provision – this was quite impressive and better than I’d ever seen elsewhere. I can’t remember now which was our first, or potentially first, wet day but on that morning, whenever it was, Pierre or Michel had opened up the main, roller shutter, door of the new, somewhat unfinished, building in parking area across the road from the original domaine buildings proper. This new building (videos of its build progress etc on the domaine’s web site) is not the new cuverie as I’d imagined but to be a bottle store (and presumably some other purposes). On the immediate left in the interior opened up by Pierre or Michel, on pallets, was quite a sizeable ‘wardrobe collection’ of wet weather attire i.e waterproof coats, jackets, over trousers and boots. All were neatly arranged in marked sizes and all carrying the name of the domaine. These were available for vendangeur use should individuals e.g moi, not have their own ‘stuff’. Very impressive and another of how this first class domaine operates & consideration for its workforce.

So, another morning passed by. Back to Vosne as usual for lunch (sorry, didn’t note, and can’t now recall, the menu).

Just before our post lunch departure it started to spit with rain. I’d left my jacket in my room hence had to hurry back quickly and get it so as not to be left behind or hold up departure. Good job I did (go for it) as it turned out to be essential.

We were back to the HCDN again but a surprise. Initially, through Chevrey and into the woods, I thought we were heading back to the above Marey-les-Fussey Au Vallons site but, no, and with the woods a bit of a maze of very rough tracks, we turned in the direction of Arcenant before parking on the track edge in quite a sizeable open area of uncultivated ‘oasis’ within the woods. Not anywhere we’d been, or passed through/by before. We trudged on foot ahead of/away from the vehicles for a short distance before turning left through a grassed gap in the trees for approx. 50 yards/metres, emerging at the top of a gently sloping quasi amphitheatre of vines, as before high trained and road tractor width, which went left to right across the site to more forest/woods on the far right-hand side. I’m not absolutely sure of the name of this site but it’s one of either:-
Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits En Frétoilles; or
Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Topet.

If I had to have a bet (am not a betting man !) then I reckon its ‘En Frétoilles’ as I think I did ask Michel about this with his reply accordingly. If so then ‘Topet’ is another site we went to later. For subsequent photos of later days I’ve captioned them as ‘En Frétoilles’ or ‘Topet’ given my uncertainty. Fruit from both of the above sites goes into the domaine’s Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Rouge. The wines from grapes from FSM and Au Vallon are labelled accordingly, identifying those sites.

As we arrived on foot through the trees to (let’s call it) En Frétoilles’ the rain started properly, leading us collectively to shelter in a copse of pine trees looking out over the amphitheater of vines backed by woods at its top and northern edge. A very pretty, attractive site – if not in proper rain ! Ultimately the rain passed over to allow us to work the rest of the afternoon, although initially the odd shower followed requiring one’s jacket hood to be raised if a hat wasn’t being worn. The rows were again notably long here, requiring us to be doubled, or tripled, to a row. I found this afternoon another tiring one hence some relief when ultimately end of the day was called, with a bit of a weary trek back to the vehicles. Michel was keen here, for some reason, for me not to have to wait for the Toyota’s return hence I found a spare seat in the domaine’s Citroen Jumpy driven by a young man who seemed to be Justine’s boyfriend with Justine, Angela and FonFon my fellow passengers.

The above would have been ‘it’ for recording the events of this day except for an occurrence I had not anticipated.

Historically, I’ve never worn a hat during a vendange or other times in my life come to that, other than the very odd fleeting occasion of extreme heat, but for this one & with age bringing about a crown bald patch on my otherwise decent head of hair (!) I’d brought two hats – an American style cap and a British style straw hat from a decent named maker which is my wife’s but she has never worn it – universal fit ! I’d been slightly amused when chatting to Cyprien Arlaud when I first arrived on the Cote when he said to me as we were parting “make sure you wear a hat”. I didn’t query then what prompted him to make this, unusual for me, comment but as it was circa 30 degrees C at the time perhaps such was caring & understandable. I did indeed take to wearing a hat for this vendange, the straw one for me being the more appropriately stylish. When the weather turned cooler and occasionally wet, I’d forsaken it, but a few days back on a warmer day I’d gone to look for it again in my room & not been able to find it. With no sign of it in either our dining cave, or in the Toyota, and after mulling the matter I’d eventually decided I thought I could remember hanging it on an end of row post low down in FSM during a late afternoon water break. With no opportunity to return to FSM I accepted I’d probably lost the chapeau unless, in due course, any member of the domaine staff subsequently working in FSM would see it and retrieve it (if in ok condition – doubtful).

During the morning of this day in FSM I was paired with the very pleasant young lady Angela who hailed from Schwartzbach. At one point whilst we were adjacent to each other in our row, and exchanging an occasional chat, out of the blue she startled me by quietly mentioning that she’d ‘heard’ something about my hat and my accommodation. She was carefully & diplomatically coy in her remarks and whilst I tried to check understanding and extract a little more info she would not be forthcoming but it was obvious she maybe knew more of my hat than she’d admitted. I was nonetheless very grateful that she’d decided to speak to me and at the coincidence that had us working together in the same row without which I wondered if I would have heard anything at all. I didn’t have time or opportunity to pursue at lunchtime but after the close of our working day, and back at the domaine after cleaning self and knee pads in the yard, I made my way to our accommodation house. I dumped my gear in our room and had a good look around in terms of cupboards, chest drawers, under the beds etc etc but couldn’t see anything. Sure in my own mind Angela wanted me to know I decided to start at the bottom of our building (a cellar) and work upwards through all the accessible areas for a sign of my hat. Nothing, thus a little frustrated I returned to my room, wearily plonking myself on the bed to ponder matters before standing up and moving to turn on the room light.

Chef and self commonly had the room exterior shutters closed but windows opened which necessitated the high ceiling’d centre light fitting of 3 unshaded bulbs being on. As I moved away from the light switch, out of the corner of my eye, there it was – my hat, hanging on one of the bulbs. I only noticed it now by ‘accident’ as it were. I guess the high ceiling and our comings and goings over the last few days often with the room in a degree of darkness meant neither of us had noticed the hat and its straw coloured nature. It was immediately obvious to me, seeing it now, putting “2 + 2 together to get more than 4”, that my hat had disappeared at the same time my bed had been ‘vandalised’ by the rubbish bin contents and thus one of the damn stupid Belgian ‘children’ youth was responsible.

It must have been a lucky ‘shot’, or maybe taken several attempts, to get the hat to hang on the light bulb, as I could not reach it standing on my bed, or that of Chef’s which was closer to being under the light fitting, and needed something else to reach. Looking around I could not immediately see a suitable implement or tool but then my eyes alighted on Chef’s quite long blue shoe/sock horn thing on top of his luggage. I grabbed it, precariously stood on the edge of his bed and, fortunately, with my first levering lunge managed to flip the hat off the light fitting and on to the floor. Eureka, and massive thanks to considerately helpful Angela. I decided not to mention the hat elsewhere other than subsequently to Chef & Angela, deriving a degree of satisfaction that the low life who’d deprived me of it would not be aware of its retrieval – as it was the weather hereafter was such that I didn’t need it (the hat) which I removed to the locked safety of my car – Grrrr !!!!

What will tomorrow, Saturday, Day 14 bring ?

We’ll see but maybe some Doggie action amongst the work meanwhile a few other aspects:-

  1. In my Day 12 commentary I mentioned a partially drunk bottle of Voillot ’93 Meursault 1er Les Cras and that I couldn’t recall who’d produced the bottle. I must be getting more affected by advancing years than I thought as it was a leftover swapsie from Bill & my evening in Beaune (Bill has mentioned it, and other bottles from our evening, in Big Red Diary). Sorry Bill !
  2. Also in my Day 12 ‘edition’ there’s a weird photo caption issue. In the second group of photos, top left, is a photo of a young lady, chin on her hand, sat on an upturned bucket, looking to the camera during one of our rest breaks. For some reason I can’t fathom, particularly as the caption I have in my saved photos is correct, the website caption refers to “Time for lunch………..etc”, the same as from an adjoining photo. The caption should read “Super Angela HCDN FSM”, the subject being my very same hat informant colleague.
  3. Lastly, as we neared the finish of our harvest efforts I got to thinking to myself I would regard this as a Michel (Gros) made vintage. Why do I say that ? Well, nominally eldest son Pierre is taking over from Michel who seems to be taking the slow process into retirement as Herve Arlaud has done. Pierre was prominent, particularly in the cuverie where he was most of the time, at the start of the harvest and for the first few days. But, and I can’t recall when I noticed, initially by his car not being present (he came daily – believe he and family live in Dijon), that he was no longer around – although he was present at the mid point Paulee. This was due to his wife expecting their 2nd child whose birth was imminent. More on this from Day 14’s words.


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 12

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 05, 2023 #vintage 2023

Thursday SEPT 21st

In my out on the street (or in the car) predicament, all of my own making, during the early hours of this Thursday I sort of dozed fitfully on occasion, the night passing slowly until, hallelujah, around 6.00 a.m. I was very relieved, from my car, to see Michel come and open the gates. Too embarrassed to reveal myself immediately, I waited for him to disappear then quickly headed into the yard, to the house, and up to my room to ‘freshen up’, get out of my evening attire, into my work clothes and gather my work stuff before heading to breakfast, cool as a cucumber, as if nothing had happened.

I had a decision to make over my contact lenses (monthlies not dailies) but, as they felt ok I decided to leave them in – and as it happened they were fine although I guess c36 hours wear isn’t recommended. Chef Jean-Michel was asleep when I entered our room hence only later in the day did I admit to him what had happened – he was suitably amused !

Aside from my self-inflicted nocturnal ‘issues’ the big development at breakfast was a hugely relieved Padhraic being back in possession of his bag ! So happy for him. Turned out last evening Juliette had very kindly taken him back up to Au Vallon in her car & they both searched some more and found the bag – in an area where Padhraic and I hadn’t looked as, at the time, he had felt we were looking in the right area as best he could recollect. Where it was found was an area we’d worked on during the morning of the day in question before we moved some way to a different part of the vineyard post lunch. Very good/kind of Juliette to take the trouble to help him & a great outcome.

We were back to Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Fontaine St Martin (‘FSM’) again for the Pinot on this morning which was largely grey, cloudy and overcast although by lunchtime to some extent it depended on which way one looked as in one direction could be lighter cloud and almost blue sky but the other way the sky was a lot murkier. Certainly a lot cooler. We did two passes of the Pinot Noir rows this a.m., our sub team buoyed by Mercedes’ varied music playlist accompanying our efforts, before usual adjournment for lunch back in Vosne. A quality lunch this day as well – boeuf borguignon. Yum !

The afternoon turned out most unexpectedly ! We returned back to FSM with, initially, no hint of what was to come. But, it wasn’t long before storm clouds started to gather quite rapidly whilst we worked, then continuous rolls of thunder started to reverberate across the valley, albeit at that stage without lightning or rain. As it hadn’t rained I was a little surprised when work was aborted circa 3.00 p.m with a call to return to Vosne. Perfect timing though, weather guru Michel demonstrating his prowess cum local knowledge, as no sooner had we got back to Vosne to the point of disembarking vehicles then the rain came, and how !!! Heavy rain of the bouncing variety then continued for the rest of the afternoon.

My taxi service was once again requested as earlier in the day Padhraic had asked if I could take him into NSG as he wanted to buy some chocolates for Juliette as a deserved ‘thank you’ for her invaluable assistance in retrieving his missing bag from Au Vallon. As we drove to NSG I mentioned I was aware of an upmarket chocolatier in the pedestrianised area although my knowledge was dated hence I couldn’t be certain the business was still there. I parked up, staying with the car, in that parking area on the left as one passes through the centre of NSG & the road turns sharply left heading south. Padhraic hared off to find what he was after whilst I watched, in intrigued, curious, fashion two gendarmes dealing with an Opel Insignia and its driver only yards from me. I’ve no idea what was going on but eventually the Opel was allowed to go, the gendarmes following in the other direction.

Success for Padhraic in acquiring upmarket confectionery and a return to a soggy Vosne.

Usual clean up for me, with an infrequent shave, then laptop work either side of dinner. I can’t recall who produced it but a few of us enjoyed a glass of the remainder of the Voillot 1993 Meursault Les Cras I’d brought back from my Beaune soiree. To follow Michel Gros 2010 Clos des Reas (4 magnums) accompanied dinner.

And so quite a relief to be back in bed as normal after my night before ! How much longer had we to go and what else did we have to do ? Questions, questions – no answers for now; and another one – could this be the longest vendange for yours truly ?


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 11

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 02, 2023 #vintage 2023

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.


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 10 – Sept 19th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 30, 2023 #vintage 2023

Tuesday SEPT 19th

Pleasingly it had been dry overnight as we had a slightly earlier (by 15 minutes) departure than usual on this morning.

I’ve realised, belatedly, from my words of Monday (18th) after mentioning the overnight heavy rain, and Michel suggesting the Hautes-Cotes would have had less precipitation than Vosne, I didn’t actually address our a.m. working weather conditions. The smarter cum more observant of you though may have deduced said weather from my Monday pics showing cloudy, grey, heavy skies and our attire including wet weather clothing/footwear. It didn’t actually rain at all though during the morning & the day improved as it went on such that we had more and more sunshine through the afternoon in the Au Vallons vineyard and blue skies coming through. So, for the weather first thing in Fontaine St Martin (‘FSM’) the breakfast suggestions from Michel, and the weather monitoring were accurate. The ground in FSM, as heavily grassed, and sloping, meant no particular under one’s feet issues.

There was also another issue/incident from the 18th – this occurred late in the evening when I was going to bed and had me livid, not seeing anything amusing whatsoever, whether the ‘experience’ was a practical joke or not. And I was quite sure I knew which childish clowns were responsible. Chef was in bed reading when I arrived in our room, ready to get to bed. He commonly read on a Kindle or similar reader. I was a little non plussed initially to see some small square sheets of material as one might use for cleaning, and a few used corks, on and around my bed on the floor. I picked these up for intended later disposal. Some minutes later I pulled back my bed’s duvet (I always made my bed in the morning – aren’t I a well trained, good boy 😉) to reveal a scene of disbelief then mounting annoyance which quickly turned to anger, partly through tiredness, as I set to clearing the mess. My bed had seemingly had a waste bin of some volume emptied into it, the contents of which had been lots more used corks plus lots of other detritus of bottle foil tops, bits of foil, beer bottle tops and other undesirables.

Swearing softly to myself Jean-Michel had by now noticed and was almost as unhappy as I was on my behalf. As I pondered how to clear up the mess J-M kindly ferreted in his stuff and gave me an empty carrier bag which served the purpose. I hadn’t actually got around to undressing so, carrier bag in hand, and in high dudgeon, I marched downstairs, across the yard, into the kitchen space where a few folk were present including Michel (Gros) to whom I presented the carrier bag with as many appropriate choice words of French explanation as my vocabulary allowed. Initially, for split seconds, the reactions of those present other than Michel, were of amusement but such quickly disappeared to be replaced by solemn looks at the floor or otherwise convenient places as my anger cum fury was realised. As with the mounted wild boar head my mindset was similarly influenced by the fact that individuals had ‘invaded’ the privacy of the shared room of J-M and myself. It would never have crossed my mind in a million years to do similar – maybe I was brought up differently.

In handing the carrier bag of rubbish to Michel I also made the point of our room being ‘invaded’. To his credit, unsurprisingly as he’s such a nice man, Michel was quite shocked, with his response, such as he could muster given what must have been his surprise at my appearance and state of mind, one of assuring me he would speak with Pierre and see what might be done as to providing a key to lock our room or corridor outside (latter had a door to the stairs). A key was never forthcoming but the matter was never mentioned again, nor was there a repeat, although the following day at lunch as I passed through the kitchen Chef Jean-Michel covertly pulled me to one side and told me he’d had ‘strong words’ with unnamed individuals. All pretty ridiculous – probably a low point in my vendange.

For today, Tuesday, Day 10 the weather had been dry overnight as we headed back to Au Vallons and its views over towards Marey-les-Fussey. The latter is home to a number of domaines but, whilst I’ve driven through Marey a number of times, I’ve yet to stop and visit. I’d be interested in any Burgundy Report readers views on any Marey domaines and their wines. Perhaps the best known Marey domaines for me are Thevenot Le Brun and Joannet.

Our journey up to Au Vallons had us 5 up in the Toyota, Michel and myself as usual in the front but the other 3 passengers included 2 of the tractor drivers. The reason here was that, doubtless due to the distance back to Vosne, two of the tractors had overnighted in Chevrey were Domaine Gros rent a small garage (enough for one open older/smaller tractor – the modern other with cab was outside) from a retired vigneron. So, a quick pitstop for the tractor drivers to hop out and reclaim their vehicles – Michel just waiting until sure both tractors had started up without issue before we carried on.

Once at Au Vallons basically we had the same ‘script’ as the previous day. Initially we commenced in the rows only part done when we exited the evening before and completed those before ‘shuffling’ around the site, uphill and around a corner, before starting new rows. Working on these new rows, which were up/down the vineyard, and long (!), rather than across as previously, saw us up to lunchtime.

Back at the domaine saw the departure, with a final cheery practice of his English, of my laundromat friend, Florient, who was off to some alternative employment elsewhere.

Post lunch back again to Au Vallons and more of the same from the morning. The afternoon was a bit of a slog fest, the grapes not always the cleanest with some rot demanding self triage as cutting, and the rows long. At least it was nice and sunny, without being too hot, with less breeze than earlier in the day – water breaks between rows were welcome ! In terms of drinks I had a nice little advantage here as in not being reliant on the ubiquitous white cups. When working at Domaine Michel Noellat (I think for 2020 rather than 2019) we’d each been given a plastic cup, slightly larger than the norm, but those plastic cups fitted into a black rubber/plastic ring which also had a clip for attaching to one’s belt or similar. I’d ended up with two of these cup things and brought them both to this vendange – they were much envied & very useful. My only puzzle was why all the cups from Noellat (the same) had Gevrey-Chambertin’s St Vincent Tournante branding/stencilling (or similar) on them. I can only assume Noellat somehow ended up with a surplus ‘job lot’ of these cups. I’ll take a photo or two of them for pictorial purposes.

It was good to finish in late afternoon here. My back at base shower was welcome. My evening was again earmarked for ongoing laptop work but I now had my own supply of beers (not to excess) to ‘keep me going’. Our room was mercifully free of any issues.


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