Vintage 2009

cuverie update – from ray walker

By Ray Walker on October 08, 2009 #ray's posts#vintage 2009

Sent from my iPhone
Sent from my iPhone
Not too long ago I was truly naive. I was looking forward to becoming busy. I had no idea what busy was before a few weeks ago. My lovely clutch on my new 1987 cheap BMW 3 got angry at my sloppy heal toe activities and grew bored with my eager turns through the roundabouts on the route de Pommard so it decided to take the week off and simply lay on the floorboard. Never mind the amount of errands I needed to complete.

A few days later and a bit flatter in the wallet and I was back on the road. Briefly. I certainly underestimated how much I would need a truck in Burgundy. I needed to rent trucks for picking up fruit, destemmers, barrels, presses, and the other day racks. Most of the winemakers out here have Renault Kangoos, a type of car/van/truck which is ever efficient as things seem to always pop up. Forgot fruit bins as well. You see you can’t just simply miss a beat and expect to fall back in line with your plans.

As an example, I was later getting fruit bins and couldn’t find then anywhere. I would have had to piecemeal together what I needed had someone not let me borrow his. I waited an extra week on picking up
racks trying to be too specific and Poof, gone. You can’t find them
anymore. So I lucked out and found some racks and had to get them that
minute. Things move slow in Burgundy, but deals and wine necessities are
finite and sell quickly.

The wines have been finished with fermentations for a short amount of
time and at the last moment I found out the press was non operational. A
quick phone call and I was being helped out with the use if someone’s
vertical press. Today my largest lot went to barrel and I couldn’t be
more pleased. The appellation is of little importance as I am just in
awe of how everything is developing. The community in Burgundy has been
key in making me feel at home and being there to help when a situation
gets tight. It would be silly to state that things have gone perfectly
in Burgundy. I am learning something new each day and it really helps
knowing that I have a strong network of friends willing to help me if
something goes pear shaped.

Time for rest now, tomorrow the smaller lots get barreled down. One of
the tanks has a door to take the solids out, an extreme luxury. Today
was nothing but endless bucket lifting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see
buckets in my sleep, while being trapped in a wooden cuve. But who can
complain when you wake up to your dream every day?


harvest 2009 update from domaine fourrier

By billn on October 02, 2009 #vintage 2009

A double update – from both Vicki and from Jean-Marie!

Many things have already been said on the web about the 2009 Vintage, and it is already being compared to the 05 vintage. We have attached some temperature and light, and rain charts which show the differences between the 2005 and 2009 which show that of course no vintage is the same. Jean-Marie actually sees it more as a marriage of the 99’s and 05’s. Still at the end of the day it is a vintage in it’s own right and a very exciting one too!

The grapes at harvest were beautifully small, so much so that some tiny ones which were no bigger than black currants fell through the grid of our sorting table and we recuperated them and put them in the vat! Already on the 2nd day in the vats the colour had changed to a bright pink, very unlike the last couple of years when we had to wait 2 or 3 days for this to happen. Fermentations, once they got going have been very quick and produced lots of heat, so we had to be very careful not to let them get too hot. Pigeage this year was not for the faint hearted, given the amount of mass solid compared to mass liquid. It has been known in the past few weeks for two very fit (strong) men to take around one hour to pigeage any given cuve. Even our porters in the vineyards were saying that they couldn’t remember a year where the cases were so heavy.

Finally, I can’t remember the last time I have seen JM smiling quite so much on the sorting table during a harvest! I have attached some photos to show you why!
Vicki Fourrier

The Growing season was absolutely perfect, with rain when we needed some and sun the rest of the time, the funny things is sometime you have nothing to say as all the conditions was right, the last month before picking was made of warm days and cool nights, so all the ingredients to have some great fruits.

Fruits at the harvest had the perfect size with lots of millerandage quite a lots of the berries had the size of Blackcurrant, so I insist on the fact that it’s not just the yield per hectare but also the ratio skin to juice which is more important for natural concentration.

The very unusual thing was how wild was the natural yeast to ferment this yeast, like if they’ve was as happy as the vigneron to find such great grapes!

All those tiny grapes released their sugar and more acidity later during the fermentations to give a last kick of extraction before the vats finished fermenting in a concert of Aromas.

After pressing our first vat today and tasting the first wine, I can just say that if we had a big smile on our face during the winemaking, tasting the result under the press has got me very excited indeed!

The only negative thing about 2009 is to put 2008 a bit to quickly in the shadow.
Jean-Marie Fourrier

maison ilan – update

By Ray Walker on September 29, 2009 #ray's posts#vintage 2009

Things have been very busy at the winery lately. With all the fruit in
tank and fermenting I have been focusing on tasting, testing, punchdowns
and of course more tasting. I decided to use a fair amount of whole
cluster on the Morey half way because I was curious about doing it, the
otherhalf because my destemmer broke. Luckily a new destemmer came about
an hour after I went from hand destemming pergatory to whole cluster
just 2 clicks before madness.

I decided also to be quite quick to initially punchdown and then to not
be overly pushy with the must and just quickly get to once a day
punchdowns. This of course raised eyebrows in the winery with my mates,
but the results are brilliant.

During the harvest it seems things went too slow and rain was always
tapping on our backs, the fear of berry burst and dilution of flavors
seemed to be my fear alone withthe more seasoned producers (read:any
Burgundy experience at all) were much more calm and content. Now on the
other side of harvest it all went too fast. I took pictures amidst the
sticky grape sorting and bin lifting but was it enough?

Looking at my clean tanks and clean floor it barely looks like someone
did anything here, what a loss. As clearly there is much more to ths
winemaking process than what shows when it is all cleaned up. Working
for someone, for someone else’s wine is so very different than making
something with your name (our daughter’s name) on the bottle. There is
of course a level of pride in doing a great job for someone else that I
have always had. However the situation where you have no one else to
correct for your errors and no one tells you what to do or that you are
mad for doing something makes every step far more painstaking.

Well, there is much more work still. I will be sure to update.


harvest roundup

By billn on September 24, 2009 #vintage 2009

So, a few updates on resources for the Harvest 2009:

Mark has managed to extract pictures from his daughter’s pink Fuji, so, added to his first and last posts are galleries from his experiences.

There has been a really good commentary here from Cynthia. Finally, I can deliver you the full set of ‘polished’ reports from the Domaine de la Vougeraie:

pdf01- mardi_8_septembre_2009

pdf02- mercredi 9 septembre 2009

pdf03- jeudi 10 septembre 2009

pdf04- vendredi 11 septembre 2009

pdf05- samedi 12 septembre 2009

pdf06- dimanche 13 septembre 2009

pdf07- lundi 14 septembre 2009

pdf08- mardi 15 septembre 2009

pdf09- mercredi 16 septembre 2009

pdf10- jeudi 17 septembre 2009

pdf11 – vendredi 18 septembre 2009

pdf12 – samedi 19 septembre 2009

harvest 2009 – producer updates – monday 21st sept

By billn on September 21, 2009 #vintage 2009

I asked a few producers how things were looking in the cuverie:

Intense colors – for the reds 😉
pH’s that basically (if I may) are not increasing during fermentation – we should end up with levels around 3.60 – 3.70 which is close to my goal. Tannins, after being a bit sharp at mid fermentation, are really softening nicely with the prolongation of macerations, and showing a good concentration, will lead to wines with a good if not overwelming tannic structure. The whites are showing a beautiful fruit, entering the cellar is an enchantment. acid balance seems good, but difficult to taste at this stage.
Carel Voorhuis, Domaine d’Ardhuy

I am afraid it’s too early to talk about extraction as it is the beginning of the alcoholic fermentation only. The only thing we know is that the color is easy to get and that the tannins are of good quality.
Philippe de Marcilly, Albert Bichot

We can say so far about 09 that the tannins are easy to extract, the skins are thick and really mature, it is top quality. The first wines we have are dense and full-bodied, but without any aggressivity. Natural maturity was so high that we did not add sugar to any of our wines. The wines almost fell sweet, and there is no sugar left (red Savigny Vieilles vignes). The vintage will be softer than 05s, because the pH are higher in 2009, the grapes kept on maturing during the summer without any of the blocage that happened with 2005. 2005 were more acidic, I expect 2009 are pure pleasure with a big concentration and velvety stucture…
Juliette Chenu, Domaine Louis Chenu

The fruit and colors seem excellent – my Beaune Les Cras has almost finished its alcoholic fermentation. Tannins seemed a little ‘strict’ at one stage but that was just a phase. From what I recall of 2005, we seem to be getting more fruit with less extraction for this crop. Less tannin than 2005 – perhaps closer to 2002. I think I will get better results from this vintage than 05 actually, but that is more about preparation than specifically fruit/vintage quality – for 05 I’d only been in the domaine a few weeks, the work in the vineyard was not mine and all the equipment was unknown…
David Croix, Domaine des Croix

Bill, we finished on Wednesday 16th. Picking conditions, as you experienced them, were fantastic, the grapes were ripe and healthy and the quantities looked good for all the vineyards with the exceptions of the ones that got hailed in May (Clos St Denis, Clos de la Roche and Combottes). The skins seemed pretty thick, the colors and tannins seem to be extracting nicely. I like the aromatics that are already coming out. In short, everything seems to be there for us to make good wine this year. I can’t picture these turning into the tannic masses that were the 2005s. They may have something in common with the 1999s, certainly analytically, but it is very early days and the opportunities to screw up are still plentiful.
Jeremy Seysses: Domaine Dujac

Jeremy sent two nice photos (in the gallery that follows – I love the vendangeur…), I also asked him how the fruit triage went with the charity ‘Climats du Cœur‘ project:

The Climats du Cœur grapes that were delivered to me looked great. The contributors from Gevrey really put their best foot forward. The grapes are not yet fermenting, so can’t talk about the wine yet. I’m expecting interest to rise with news of the vintage looking like a good one.
Jeremy Seysses


mark – pernand-vergelesses day 4 friday 11th Sept

By on September 20, 2009 #picture gallery#vintage 2009

A few words on other matters before getting into Friday’s picking activities et al.

One of the many things I have quickly come to love here is the view across the steep sided valley in which Pernand sits on one side – on the right heading up towards Echevronne. Domaine D-F is probably circa half way up the village or more but, sat in the courtyard, as I can be with spare moments, looking straight across, in one’s eye line is the wonderfully named terroir of “Sous le bois de Noel et ses Belles Filles” (Under the Wood of Noel and his beautiful daughters – not sure who the Noel was by the way) . Think that’s the full name (without checking). The vines plunge steeply down from below the well wooded dense top part of the hill. Off the top of my head Domaine Remi Rollin sell a very reasonably priced example (rouge). Recall the 2005 en primeur, not yet tasted as still in bond / storage, cost GBP 100 from Justerini’s in the UK (no association other than occasional customer).

Beer o’clock – eh ??? This term amused me no end and is great in what it represents. The cuverie staff under Monsieur Bernard’s genial and benevolent but serious leadership (he’s 70 but fully involved & bright as a tick – a lovely man) have an early morning cuverie wine break (honestly) and also again in the evening, before putting the triage table away, have another wine break – usually with something more than decent e.g a Corton-Charlemagne featured one evening when I was lucky enough to be there. Into this ‘well oiled’ working routine Aussie stagiste, Kirsten, told M. Bernard about the Aussie winery practice of afternoon “beer o’clock”. This was seized on as a great idea and is now adopted, as a French idea of course (!), about 4 p.m using likes of Kronenbourg. Superbe !!!

A few words on the domaine layout in Pernand. I have already mentioned the house, courtyard, bureau etc in Rue Rameau-Lamarosse but what I hadn’t appreciated, until asking M Bernard one day to show me the barrel cellar below the cuverie was how the whole, from cuverie to house, ‘knitted’ together down the hillside within the village. The cuverie (very modern, air conditioned / temperature controlled, very well equipped, has stainless everything and lots of it) is accessed (other than on foot coming up through the very large and private house garden) by entering the tasting room / ‘cellar door shop’ at the back of the courtyard. If one goes through the tasting room this opens out materially to a substantial bottle store of umpteen metal cages. M Bernard told me one day there were about 80,000 bottles held – wow !!! To the right of the bottle store are stairs which lead up to the floor above which is the sizable barrel cellar (can’t recall exactly but recollect might be up to 300 barrels). To the right hand side of the barrel cellar is another flight of stairs which lead into the back of the cuverie. At the front of the cuverie is a dropping circular loop of tarmac from the plateau above of car parking and garage / store for vans, tractors etc which access from a narrow street above. In essence one has, from the top street, the whole from garage / store, ramp to cuverie, then cuverie, barrel store, to bottle store / tasting room following the contour down the hillside to the domaine courtyard. Gravity operation is possible from cuverie, to barrel store, to bottle store.

Visitors to the domaine for tasting and purchase were regular, if low in number, but included Belgians, French, a family of 4 Brits and a couple of Americans.

A word on the vintage thus far. I know full well it’s very early days indeed but simply report what I see and hear. Our vendange has been conducted from start to finish (am typing this now post conclusion) in probably perfect weather – very hot in parts and dry throughout. It actually started spitting with rain during the afternoon of the 15th after we finished the domaine’s vendange that lunchtime in Corton En Charlemagne. The grape quality, red and white, has been fantastic. This was my 3rd vendange (2006 Chassagne-Montrachet, 2008 Morey-St-Denis and this one). The only rot I recall seeing this time was a quite modest amount in Corton Pougets. Hence grape quality is excellent. Early on, and in my experience the Burgundians are careful and not prone to getting carried away, talk of a really classy vintage emerged. This continued and translated to comparisons with both 1999 and, incroyable, 2005 on a regular basis. With the 2008 vintage to sell in early 2010 one can’t imagine the UK wine trade will want to hear such sentiments. That said I believe 2008 itself will be good and I, for one, will be looking to buy reds from Arlaud and others. I believe 2008 whites may be similar to 2007 or better with plenty of acidity. We’ll see I guess. Those domaines who waited in 2009 will have had the rain from Thurs 17th to contend with.

Right, to the Friday 11th action. Think it was the previous night a few of us post dinner spent a convivial evening with other domaine vendangeurs at Pernand’s only bar – “La Grappe de Pernand”. We despatched numerous jugs of Amstel at my expense to leave some fragility the following morning as we moved to our first site. This was the gorgeous hill top terroir of, for me, the much anticipated ‘Sous Fretille’ blanc. Have no idea if I could find this again from the winding route through woods on rough tracks – even looking at maps back in the UK. Nevertheless lovely terroir but we soon seemed to have the quality Chardonnay stripped and moved on to Corton Pougets. We had a little rest before starting this which we ultimately did in 2 or 2 and a half passes. Tiffin, one of the youngsters, and an Arsenal fan / shirt wearer, actually had a snooze in a dry field drain alongside the road – see photos to follow. It was a bit chilly here, not for me though with my Lowe Alpine base layer and thick t shirt over so I readily agreed to lend my fleece to my fellow van front seat occupant, Lauren, an intelligent trainee maritime lawyer from Paris – ‘veteran’ of a few vendanges and trusted “older sister” type to the 14 & 9 yr old Gruere-Dubreuil daughters; Clementime & Autance. A little rot in Pougets, nothing major, but stand out compared to the generally perfect quality thus far. Part way through and having got back to the road from one pass we were watched, photographed etc by a group of older people in 2 minibuses. Getting into conversation with them turned out they were Swedish tourists. One of them was particularly intrigued by our rates of pay which he quizzed me on, ultimately following me half way down a row to check our hourly euro rate as I grappled with a particular vine ! From here we moved to what was either Aloxe of Pernand village to take us up to lunch and a welcome break. I had, on a last minute whim, brought a bottle of wine with me which I gave to Christine D-F on arrival. This was a Cloudy Bay 2003 Chardonnay. Broached at lunchtime and shared around would be fair to say it didnt show well against the straight D-F Bourgogne Chard or Aligote (vin blanc nature) which was our regular tipple. The New Zealander seemed blowsy, heavy and very over oaked – being kind to say a food wine. Quite took me by surprise – a real victory for the old world.

Post lunch we took the road out alongside the wonderful old church (with it’s superb on the hour / half hour clock) towards Magny-Les-Villers to the site of P-V Villages Les Clous just off the road. Another lovely piece of terroir. Very hot here and a tester after lunch with some gradient. More lovely grapes. I love picking quality Chardonnay – tis what I started with in 2006 in Chassagne and have since always preferred to Pinot and found easier. Very essential need to be a flailing hooligan in leaf stripping though to avoid missing decent bunches. From here we changed tack completely passing through the village of Aloxe-Corton to tackle premier cru A-X Les Vercots. Afternoon concluded with either Pernand or A-X village (or could indeed have been P-V 1er cru Les Fichots) back towards Pernand not far from Corton-Charlemagne.

On most afternoons rather than rushing back to the communal house for beer, gin, fags etc it was my habit to go to the cuverie and mingle – check out the triage table, use the jetwasher to clean my boots or Merrrells, or clean cases and buckets – always something to do. I think it was this day that Kirsten got me up on the gantry around the stainless steel tanks of settling Pinot holding a heavy pipe for remontage (pumping over). This was fine for a while until we came to unhook at which point and by accident, casually holding the pipe whilst Kirsten unhooked down below, I inadvertently sprayed myself all down my left side from head to foot – not my fault but all rather damp !! Was always worth being around the cuverie team around 6 p.m for an early evening drink of something tasty from M.Bernard.

Day 5 to follow with altitude, gradient in Savigny; comment on the mighty Liverpool FC in comparison to some rubbish Manchester team; a move onto Corton Charlemagne; punching the cap down; and a very special evening dinner with special wines.

harvest 2009 – saturday 19th sept

By billn on September 19, 2009 #vintage 2009

Rain overnight but by 9:30 a.m. it’s stopped and the sun is peaking through.

The home team is bringing in Chambertin – it looks almost as good as yesterday’s Latricières, the grapes are a bit wet, still, the vibrating table is removing most of it and the rain doesn’t seemed to have affected the berry size. This is all the fruit for today, though in the cuverie the Ladoix and the Savigny Peuillets are getting some punch-downs. There is still some Santenay villages which is not quite ripe enough and a little Beaune blanc remaining on the vines, the plan is to bring these in on Monday. Météo France are now suggesting rain, rather than storms for Sunday.

A quick tour of some other domaines shows that Kellen Lignier has finished, Carel Voorhuis was aiming to finish yesterday and David Clark was expecting to be done by tomorrow.

Next update on Monday, with some info on the fermentations & extractions…

harvest 2009 – friday 18th sept

By billn on September 19, 2009 #vintage 2009

So it’s Friday, and given the forecasts, and depending on which you believe – Météo France get short shrift from many – quite a number are aiming to end their harvest today. It’s a misty start which doesn’t whisk away the overnight damp very easily, but slowly the sun starts to poke through. By lunchtime there’s not a cloud in the sky and the afternoon basks in 22°C.

At the home domaine they are working flat out! Santenay Clos Rousseau which is super fruit, Marsannay villages (a new contract) that needs about 5% triage for botrytis, otherwise nice, and crowning glory, Latricières-Chambertin, a plot whose produce can be a real mixed bag – only 35kg triaged from 2 tonnes of millerande fruit. The team is stunned! It’s one of the best of the year – I expect great things. One disappointment is that despite pushing, it wasn’t possible to get the Chambertin in, so it will have to wait until tomorrow (Saturday).

harvest 2009 – thursday 17th sept

By billn on September 18, 2009 #vintage 2009

Fog and rain starts the day in Beaune – there is no morning picking at the home domaine. The report is that some growers in Marsannay have cancelled their plans to pick today.

In the late-afternoon the home domaine grapes arrive from Vosne and Charmes-Chambertin – all are in very good shape. Like the previous couple of years the Vosne parcel has very nice fruit so there are about 10-15% whole bunches for the fermentations (nothing to do with the DRC from the other night!).

The reports are still for thunder and lightening at the weekend, so whatever the weather on Friday, the last grapes from Santenay Clos Rousseau – which still look superb – and the rest of the gevrey grand crus will be brought in.

Last for today, a message from Ray, our new boy in the Côtes:

The Charmes and Morey have been cut. Chambertin tomorrow possibly. Things are good. I ended up with the equivelant of 8 barrels of Charmes from Aux Charmes and my Chassin barrels just came in today. So I am happy. Also I got an old 1987 BMW 3 series to run around in. I feel much more at home now with my thrifty lil car. 1200 Euros and it runs like a champ.
Ray Walker, Maison Ilan

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