Vintage 2014

the return of the mark: part last…

By billn on October 14, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

ARLAUD VENDANGE, Wednesday, 24th September 2014

By now I was really wondering just when we were going to finish as there seemed to be no sign. I was acutely conscious my Channel ferry back to the UK was booked for Friday lunchtime, delaying was not an option, and I was also keen to undertake various wine collection/pursuit errands I’d agreed to undertake for mates in the UK (two of whom are regular Burgundy-Report readers). As part of my vendange its always my aim to try and have at least one, if not two days post vendange for what I call ‘me time’ i.e to allow me to wind down and spend time for myself exploring parts of the Cote, visiting friends in the vigneron community and buying an ‘odd bottle or few’ ! The way things were going now, with this easily the longest vendange I’ve worked, I could quite easily see there could be little or no ‘me time’ !
Anyway, at breakfast I mused this day must likely be the last and surely must include the Hautes-Cotes. By now my bin bag of dirty clothing was becoming sizeable and heavy. I’d started the vendange also with two pairs of thin washing up type kitchen gloves (in fetching pale green) and two more robust pairs of gardening gloves. All of these were by now rather ‘second hand’, if not all but shot. As it was I binned the lot before returning to the UK as well as a back up pair of rubber (wellington type) boots which had various splits.
Back to the vines this was another largely unexciting day in which we moved around various sites and plots, mostly on the Chambolle side of Morey, both above and (mainly) below the main road, the D974. One or two plots weren’t so far from the SNCF Dijon-Lyon railway line which gives an idea how far from the road we got on occasion. We picked Pinot, some Gamay, and also old vine Aligote. The Gamay vines, which are at the back of the edge of Morey Industrial units housing the likes of the Vineyard tractor & machinery dealers (Faupin, Alabeurthe), can produce a prodigious weight of fruit in good years and weren’t lacking in 2014 but what surprised me a lot this time was the significant amount of rot. The Gamay fruit was pretty grim really leading to us having no other option but to ‘drop’ a lot of it to the floor – all vendange I never saw anything like the incidence of rot in any of the Pinot which was present in the Gamay. Odd & I did wonder if any routine Bordeaux mix spraying had been applied to the Gamay as the residue of such (spray) had been noted on plots of Pinot.
Not a lot of interest to commend the Wednesday really and nothing that prompted me to get my camera out. There were a couple of humorous moments which stood out though, both involving Anya, the most extrovert of the Polish girls. The first also involved Porteur Romain. The gist of this incident was that Romain, who’s very much a stolid, slow, gentle giant type of young lad in I’d estimate his mid to late 20’s – and I’d surmise probably without much ‘experience’ with the opposite sex – engaged Anya in conversation whilst waiting for us to fill his case from our buckets when we were all hard at it picking away. It was fairly obvious immediately where Romain was most hesitantly, and with little or no ‘sophistication’, seeking to take the conversation ! Fairly quickly, if not as his opening line, he got to the point of asking Anya how many boyfriends she’d had, quickly followed by a fairly unsubtle angle that he’d like to take her out and show her the sights of Dijon (without actually saying that). This was all quite amusing to us in the immediate rows but Anya had me particularly in hysterics by, pretty quickly in proceedings, saying to Romain in English (debateable if he understood !) “Woah, you’re a bit fast aren’t you” ! This was pretty funny, more so if one had been there and knew the individuals, but one thing Romain is not, in porteur terms anyway, is fast ! Needless to say Anya, tactfully and gently didn’t take up Romain’s offer of a less than wild sounding evening !
The second Anya incident also involved her friend, Eva, another of the Poles. Immediately prior to us starting one particular plot, the two girls headed off down the track, looking for a suitably private area of vines or scrub to perform a call of nature (or one of them needed such, the other acting as minder/watcher for any interruption). We started picking & were part way down our first row when there was an incredible burst of a strange, unusual, noise ! My first reaction was that one of the other was larking about and doing a comic impersonation of person or thing. What had actually happened was that the Polish girls had disturbed, or got too close, to a ‘friendly’ donkey in a field adjoining the vines which, either wishing to make friends, or possibly thinking someone was coming to feed it, galloped over to them prompting them to flee the field in a hurry (!) whilst the donkey was making an incredibly loud continual braying which went on a couple of minutes. All rather hilarious with Anya & Eva returning to the rest of us rather embarrassed and amid much hilarity all round.
A fairly unsatisfying day really, in essence just ‘mopping up’ the lesser hotch potch of various scattered plots/rows.
At dinner that evening I continued my habit of providing one or two bottles of my own (a bit ‘coals to Newcastle’ or ‘sand to Arabs’) to supplement the usual Bourgogne PTG, Blanc, or increasingly Rose. We had various wines through the vendange – I didn’t take notes of what I supplied but included both Burgundy & non Burgundy whites and reds. On this Weds evening a Robert Niero 2004 Condrieu Les Ravines went down very well indeed and was indeed rather lovely, drinking a point – light on its feet, not heavy, very mineral and otherwise an atypically nice, well made Viognier. I’d also supplied a Greywacke 2013 Marlborough NZ Sauvignon Blanc the night before which disappeared quickly but without comment. Another well received white was Pierre-Yves Colin Morey’s 2007 St Aubin ‘Le Banc’. I was highly impressed that Herve Arlaud, coming late to the dinner table, that evening responded to my blind challenge serving to him of the PYCM, with the only clue given it wasn’t a Meursault, by calling it Chardonnay (easy enough) but also picking it as a St Aubin and a 2007. He had two wrong guesses at the producer but if I’d allowed him another I think he would have said PYCM as well. I think I’ve mentioned what I think was a first week evening when Herve produced Arlaud 2005 Morey Village and 2010 Morey 1er Millandes. Both were delicious and a cut above the normal evening fair. The Millandes obviously young and maybe at a disadvantage for that but the 2005 Village hugely impressed me and was flat out delicious – a wine I’d love to have a case of. If not this Weds then a night or two earlier we’d been served two different years Arlaud Charmes-Chambertin – a 2000 and I think (memory a bit dodgy) a 2006. Both very yummy indeed, although I thought back to Jean Raphet’s 2000 Clos de Vougeot bottle on the day of my arrival, and decided the Vougeot was, being picky, the better for me 2000.
And sooo to bed with still no Hautes-Cotes or end in sight ! By now I was also suffering, from about day 6, with the same RSI type problem in/from my right shoulder all the way to right fingertips, that I’d first experienced a year or two pre this one. This pins and needles, loss of feeling, numbness, discomfort etc etc could be quite tricky and also had the propensity to keep me awake at night with the all around discomfort in my right arm unless, that is, I slept (or tried to) dangling my right arm downwards over the edge of the bed so that blood circulation flowed to my right fingers which eased matters . Didn’t necessarily seem the wisest thing to do to dangle the arm for an extended spell but that was about the only way to ease matters.

ARLAUD VENDANGE, Thursday THE CONCLUSION (!), 24th September 2014
At last, it had been said, at breakfast we were told that today, the Thursday would be the final day – but when ? Hautes-Cotes it would be as well. Off to Vosne we went, from there climbing up past Brulees and onwards past Meloisey and upwards wending our way through country lanes, woods etc until eventually weaving our way out onto the largely deserted, electricity pylon crossed, plateau which had proven so inhospitable, if not downright awful (rain, extreme cold, frost, misery all round) in early October 2013 with incidence of widespread rot in the then fruit.
This year the weather could not have been more different. As we arrived it was sunny, but a brouillard clag fog/cloud/mist briefly descended to shout out the sun until gradually being burnt off when the morning then became just glorious. It had been a bit chilly at the outset so most of us were layered up, so became increasingly hot/sweaty until the chance to partially divest clothing arose. The ground generally firm and at worst damp but mostly dry. The rows of vines here are as long as any I’ve worked so, unless you are doubled or tripled up (2/3 to a row), one row to yourself is quite a slog. The occasional gap(s) in vines, or vines with little or no fruit, are a respite and give an incentive to get closer to your peers if you have fallen behind. We always start here working slightly upslope/uphill – nothing more than a gentle gradient really but at the top of the plot the ground becomes remarkably stony, and almost Chateauneuf-du-Pape galets strewn like. Whilst we worked a particularly large machine harvester was working noisily in an adjoining field/plot, serviced by two tractor and trailer sets that rushed (at quite a speed) backwards & forwards to whoever’s winery they were from. The bunches of grapes here were as prolific as 2013, if not more so, but the huge difference was the lack of 2013’s rot. This year I didn’t see any. 2013’s bunches had flattered as looking good but being full of rot in the tightly packed fruit. The speed with which one’s bucket got full was remarkable and twice I had to stop and wait for a porteur to catch up to come and relieve me of my burden. This plot took us all morning with 2 or 3 passes, I think the latter which left me at least pretty tired. However, as happened similarly in 2011 albeit on the flat land Morey Chambolle side, we then broke for lunch with an al fresco vineyard grande picnic lunch. 4 or 5 plastic wine flagon things, filled with water, were laid on their sides on top of empty cases to allow for washing one’s hands etc, then bread, cooked meats, cheese etc were laid out on the top of other cases for a help yourself DIY picnic lunch with sponge cake and coffee available for ‘afters’. Wine and water also available, all the ingredients having been brought from base during the morning in one of the van’s or the flat bed trucks. A nice move and a much needed break, followed by brief siesta for some, before we then moved off again. Before we went I had a look at the machine harvested vines ‘next door’ to us. It’s quite ‘savage’ how the harvester strips the fruit from the vines but also clever. I took a few photos to show the stalky remains of what’s left of a machine harvested bunch.
Lunch in the vines made logistical sense in one way given our location i.e in the Hautes-Cotes and that we still had the Arlaud Hautes-Cotes Chardonnay to do on its separate plot some miles away which is where we went next post lunch. I’ve always enjoyed picking this Chard – it’s a lot of fun and today was no exception. The vines are high trained and up quite a short, if steep, slope. The way Herve always sets us to work on the vines here is as a pair of two pickers, working one side of the vine each. One obviously has to be very careful not to inadvertently get to close, god forbid cut, one’s co-worker but if you work well together its ok and fun. Leaf stripping is essential to give good sight of the hanging fruit & making sure none missed but two of you assist’s not overlooking anything. The fruit quality & quantity here was again spectacular, probably the best I’ve seen in 5 years on this plot and I was also hearing / to hear later that afternoon that (in the main or solely) white wine producers on the Cote were delighted with what they were seeing from the harvest.
Once we’d finished here I was confidently assuming we were done and our 2014 vendange was over so that at least I might have a decent part of the afternoon and early evening to sort out a few errands and wine buying pre readying myself for a crack of dawn departure on the Friday morning to make Calais for my lunchtime ferry to the UK and home. I was wrong and so were others thinking the same as me !!! Amazingly Herve led the van convoy back to the Chambolle side of Morey and we set to finishing off what had been incomplete/unfinished rows from days earlier on two or three plots. This didn’t take ‘that’ long, nor was it overly testing but eventually the final bits of rows were all done just after 3.30 ish p.m. & by the time we returned to Morey centre it was almost 4.00 p.m Almost anti-climatic in the way the last bits of picking petered out. No fuss or excitement made/evident as we finished in the vines or back at base – I got the distinct impression to a man/woman/boy/girl we were all just tired out.
For my part, and assuming no Paulee as we’d had none in 2013, and there was no sign or mention of one this year, I rushed to change into half decent clothes once we were back in Morey, grabbed paperwork, wallet and camera setting off to attempt at least three or four errands in the time up to likely usual dinner for the resident lodgers. My first call was to the Domaine Robert Gibourg caveau on the D974 to collect some already paid for wines for a UK friend. Not a great start as I was immediately held up whilst it was decided I could take said wines which needed Madame Gibourg Senior’s arrival to clarify matters and let me get on my way – but, bless her, in a nice gesture she thrust a bottle of Gibourg 2011 Morey Clos de la Bidaude (Monopole) into my hand as I left.
Next stop toute suite, after quick fire text msg exchange with Jeremy S, was Domaine Dujac on another collection errand. Jeremy was a little tight lipped re his opinions on 2014 but we were both in a hurry, he had friends/family just arrived from the USA. He pointed me to a small, very dusty/dirty, uneven floored, low ceilinged, small cellar which he unlocked and left me to it to search for a dozen specific bottles amongst a hotch potch of plastic cases, cardboard cartons and couple of racks. Not a greatly pleasurable task, especially when one’s on limited time, but I got there in the end and retreated with the 12 bottles saying both ‘hello’ & ‘goodbye’ in the Dujac office to father, Jacques Seysses, whom I’d never previously met but, of course, instantly recognized. He quite probably wondered who the hell I was which would have been quite understandable, notwithstanding my quick fire garbled explanation who I was and that I’d finished the errand task so the cellar could be locked again.
Next stop Beaune by arrangement to meet larger than life, great bloke, Aussie cheerful chappie, Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin and to collect 2012 wines I’d previously ordered and not had the chance to collect in 2013 when I’d similarly run out of time rushing around ! Pleased with myself I’d found his place straightaway I waited a while, talking to British members of his team whilst Andrew returned from an errand. 2012 wines collected we discussed the vendange where he seemed to have similar views to my own on fruit quality and quantity and seemed happy indeed with his own efforts/outcome thus far. He was particularly enthused with his 2014 Savigny Rouge, giving me a taste of delicious, fresh, juice.
Back to Morey in weary fashion, just enough time to call at Ray Walker’s Ilan premises in Nuits for another UK mate collection errand (2010 wines) in a second year’s effort, after 5 or 6 abortive calls in 2013 across two days. Both my UK friend and myself had emailed Ray as a precursor pre my visit, my mail just a few days earlier when I had sight of when I’d be free to call, but no joy to ringing bell, knocking on door, waiting 5/10 minutes so no option but to leave empty handed again. Fair assumption I guess to assume Ray and family were as busy as the rest of us and in all likelihood at his (new last year ?) cuverie elsewhere. Will have to re-think something else for 2015.
Arriving back at Morey, without a bottle of wine purchased for self (!), I was gobsmacked to learn a Paulee was imminent – no one had told me before ! Mad rush to shave, shower, change and start packing before a convivial evening ensued of food, drink, music and dance with Cyprien and wife Carol as hosts & my staying up far too late (!). I produced my last wine for the night – a Henri Jouan 2002 Clos St-Denis. Was drinking wonderfully. Tried Herve blind with this one – he got Producer, Year and Terroir without any clues/assistance. Chapeau ! Evening only blighted a bit late on by one of the local blokes, who’d always seemed a bit of an idiot deciding, appearing drunk, to go and get his Staffordshire Bull Terrier like dog and release it into the crowded Paulee room whilst dancing was going on. Utter dope and hope he isn’t employed next year.
Friday morning, 5.30 a.m., after not a lot of sleep and with low mist/fog settled on the Cote I pulled away from a sleeping Morey and headed for Dijon Sud, the Autoroute, Calais and my ferry back to the UK. What a vendange ! They are all different but, and I don’t say this as the most recent & as fresh in the memory, 2014 was just personally amazing from the get go. The weather, first week especially, was just superb, arguably way too hot for mad dogs and Englishmen to be out picking in the vineyard sun. How thirsty did I get and boy how did I ‘perspire’ ! The ground was dry & firm for the most part, other than just after the little rain, unlike 2013. And the grapes – wow ! Those oft repeated two words:- quality and quantity as I’ve never seen the likes of before in 6 vendange before this, my 7th. I’m so intrigued and impatient to see how the wines ultimately turn out. All my regular friends on the Arlaud team, lovely people. The mid vendange Sunday was a special day with the Le Montrachet breakfast (thank you Bill, we met up at last !) and then my special dog walking afternoon with my new best canine friend, Gava. As special as my first vendange. And the best part ? No doubts, can only be the vines, the terroirs, those premier and grand cru sites. Those days 3 and 4 with the sites we went to:- Bonnes-Mares, Clos St-Denis, Morey Ruchots, Vosne Petit-Monts, Echezeaux. So special and fantastic, this year of all years. It was tough though, long, my longest, seemed to be going on forever (not that I would complain if it did !). With the end of it satisfaction for all the day to day unremitting hard work and a job pretty well done by us all (well, most of us !). A wrench as always to leave dear ole Morey. With sincere and grateful thanks to Domaine Arlaud; Cyprien & Herve, for continuing to trust and employ your all things Burgundy passionate English vendangeur – it’s an honour and a pleasure to work for one of the best domaine’s in Morey, and on the Cote de Nuits, one I firmly believe is continually improving to reach new heights. Roll on 2015 – I’ll be back !
Postscript:- In addition to our wages its tradition at Arlaud that each and every vendangeur gets a small box of wines – always been 3 bottles to date, usually a Gevrey Village, Aligote and a Roncevie or Hautes-Cotes Chardonnay. As usual Herve made sure I got mine (box) as I entered the Paulee. I only got around to opening it once back in the UK and burst out laughing when I saw the contents. I can’t believe anyone else got the bespoke offerings I got which are 1) a 1999 Chambolle Village and 2) a 2010 (not a 2011 or 2012) Bourgogne Roncevie. The significance of these ? In both cases I’d jokingly said to Cyprien, after different days of slog, that I wouldn’t care/didn’t ever want to see a bottle of either the above again/for a long time. That he’d taken in what I said in good humour, remembered, and, turning my jokes around on me, seeing to it that I’d got the said bottles – in the midst of all he had on his plate in the vendange – well, that was superb and spoke volumes/means a lot to me.

the return of the mark: Vendange Day 8+9

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 09, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

ARLAUD VENDANGE DAYS 8 & 9 – Monday & Tuesday 22nd/23rd Sept 2014-10-07

Whilst I’ve regrettably now been back in the UK since the 26th Sept, and am increasingly becoming immersed in my banking (Rick S pls note !) day job and matters domestic (leaking shower cubicle anyone ?) I feel sort of duty bound & with a sense of the incomplete/unfinished to make me conclude what seemed to become an increasingly drawn out vendange (that is if Bill cares to publish this but I’m including a few pics to hopefully ‘bribe’ him.
The above said I’ve only just stopped laughing at Bill’s latest set of pics, and specifically the comfy goats lol !! Priceless, never seen anything like that before although I do have fond memories of my parents having two goats, one after the other, when I was a child.
Before matters grape picking etc, a correction, as I’ve only just noticed an error in the Day 7 piece. Whether down to Bill, or more likely myself ,I’ve just seen that Day 7, my Sunday Le Montrachet breakfast and afternoon dog walking day, is described as ‘Day 7, Friday 21th Sept 2014’. This should of course read Sunday the 21st Sept – but of course you eagle eyed readers will have worked that out and more than likely attributed it to vendangeur inebriation – I wish !
Back to le vendange ! We were joined Sunday evening, rather unexpectedly to me, by 5 young Poles – 3 young ladies and two boys. I eventually learnt they’d been recruited with others to join (see later) to help the core team see off Roncevie, other unfinished ‘stuff’ around Morey, and for our ‘assault’ on the Hautes-Cotes – the latter the stuff of my 2013 endurance nightmares ! What was interesting from the new recruits was that they’d come from de Montille, Volnay. They spoke well of Alix (de Montille or is she married Bill ?) looking after them and described what could only be Etienne whom I know fairly well. The evening meal Sunday was also notable for Gava, now in love with me, scrounging surreptitiously from Rene & Serge, both dog owners themselves who, despite owner Tiffin’s disapproval, were happy via sleight of hand etc to pass tidbits (meat, cheese etc) to the soulful, hang dog looking Gava standing behind their bench meal places. A brief interlude of excitement occurred when, not knowing the dog was present, an unsuspecting Mystique the cat entered the refectoire, bent on seeking affection and a bit of scrounging himself. The inevitable happened with cat seeing dog, dog seeing cat, latter deciding escape was required toute suite (fortunately the door was open to the yard), and both disappearing a rate of knots with much yowling from the cat, growling and barking plus scrabbling of claws from the dog who exhibited an amazing turn of speed and manouverability, before order was restored – the dog returning after c 10 minutes having failed to entrap the wily Mystique who was unscathed.
From here not a great deal to record except two days of almost drudgery. I can’t recall ever picking Roncevie in such a sustained fashion before i.e solidly across what turned out to be two full days. Motivation gets a bit lacking once one knows no more Premier or Grand Crus to come. My recollection of previous years is that we’ve come to Roncevie on several occasions across the whole vendange, or several days anyway – not that we’ve done it as we did this year. Weather was good though, almost ideal conditions of not too hot sun and a breeze. I do like the site, there’s something about the way the rows, by now with an increasingly autumnal look, stretch into the distance. Grape quality again very good. Odd bits of inconsequential rot only, nothing compared to previous years for what is a low lying site prone to wet & damp.

I can’t recall, after the Poles, if it was Monday or Tuesday morning but we also added further to our number on one of those mornings with 4 Slovakians or Slovenians (can’t now remember which), two guys & two gals plus a local young French guy – lunchtime now became increasingly crowded and seats at a premium. One of the former group, Marquetta (spelling ?), subsequently amazed me at the ultimate end of vendange Paulee by telling me that I had, or had had, back trouble – she was right ! In the mid to late 80’s I had all sorts of back problems, including a laminectomy and several hospitalizations for bouts of traction, and at one point an epidural jab with the longest needle I’ve seen to this day. Apparently Marquetta was a proper masseuse, including of an equine nature, and could simply tell from my stance that I wasn’t straight & hence her diagnosis – clever !
Roncevie concluded on the Tuesday afternoon with a bit of a whimper. We’d done all the main rows proper (the holding is c 5 hectares) but a furthest from the road , butting up eventually to trees, was very young vines. This section had been terribly badly frosted in the winter of 2009/10 9 (I think) which killed a goodly number of old vines and led to a wholesale replanting, maybe no more than 3 years ago (or less ?). The new vines are but mere babes, many shrouded in a form of bag, presumably for protection and to promote growth. We were all done in, and it was circa 4.30 / 5.00 p.m. but Herve gave us a rather bizarre instruction to sweep the new vines plating section but not to spend too long and only concentrate on the very best, or most significant, grapes. Well, that was tedious ! What grapes existed were small indeed and took some getting to grips with being almost at floor level of in the shrouded bag things, or caught up in grass or weeds. Was fair to say our hearts weren’t in the (non) task so, after faffing around for half an hour or so becoming increasingly fatigued and irritable we called it a day – not one of the most compelling vendange exercises I must say.
I subsequently discussed Roncevie with Cyprien on my evening cuverie trip to use the wi-fi. Cyprien told me they’d taken the extra 10 people (Poles, Slovaks, Frenchman) to help get things wrapped up by cWednesday. He also advised me that Roncevie was the largest holding in single ownership on the Cote which remains hand-picked. When he said it I was rather nonplussed by the claim but afterwards decided quickly I’d either misunderstood him, or maybe he was referring to Bourgogne (Rouge ?) only – as two immediate single holdings which are larger are the Clos de Lambrays and de Tart – and doubtless there are others at GC or Premier level. Whatever, I jokingly told him I’d had enough of Roncevie for a while and didn’t care if I didn’t see a bottle of it for some time, if ever. This had an unexpected consequence to come later and revealed a sense of vigneron humour, as well as indicating Cyprien listened to me and remembered, quite endearing !
Photos to accompany, I’ll leave Bill to select from the one’s to be sent. Camera continues to please and do the business but I find myself increasingly careful and selective as to how I’m using it with sticky and wet hands.
To come:- the final days of Weds, and incredibly, Thursday for my longest ever vendange.

Indian Summer…

By billn on October 01, 2014 #harvests#travels in burgundy 2014#vintage 2014

I do hope that’s not now regarded as a racist comment(?) Actually I don’t really care 😉

It just goes on and on this fine weather: Low to mid 20s°C and staying largely dry too. I heard of some grapes still being harvested today – but in the Hautes Côtes – which reminds me, I should call Laurent Ponsot – I assume that even he’s finished by now…!

Anyway, embarking on 2013 whites visits today. Some very different styles but lots to love. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Mark’s harvest: Vendange Day 7

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 30, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 7, Friday 21th Sept 2014

In my piece on Day six I overlooked mention of an unprecedented (for me at least) occurrence from previous vendanges, namely a Saturday close of lunch announcement from Herve that we would not be working Sunday hence all the locals should not show up (none did !). This amazed me as I’d never had a part way through vendange break before. The ‘official’ reason was a particularly bad weather forecast for the following day, Sunday, but I did muse more than once on was there more to it than this and, in reality, was there a wish on the part of Cyprien and for his cuverie team for a break ? I was conscious of how seemingly tired and exhausted all parties had been in 2013, Cyprien seemingly more than most, doubtless with his weight of wine-making responsibilities – to which I was totally sympathetic.

Whatever, Herve’s announcement was well-timed as when I came to check my mobile pre lunch I’d noted an invite to breakfast at Hotel Le Montrachet for Sunday a.m – which in normal course I’d have had no chance of attending but now this was available to me – hurrah !

So, light of heart and without thoughts of another day’s hard graft in prospect, I gave myself an hour to travel down the Cote from Morey to Puligny for 9.00 a.m. Made it in good time which I used to wander amongst, and admire, various classic cars from a French Classic Car Club who’s owners/members had clearly enjoyed their stay overnight at the hotel (I wish !). One gentleman’s efforts to get two bags of golf clubs, before any luggage, into the back of his Porsche Turbo amused me rather ! Eventually my website owning triager host turned up avec his charming NZ family guests, very nice people, clearly enjoying their stay in Burgundy. We had a quite delightful unhurried breakfast which I can thoroughly recommend & would love to sample again (even if a more complete stay/dining experience at Le Montrachet might give my credit card palpitations !). After swapping various bottles of Burgundy we had for each other, and inspecting more classic cars, including a very nice Austin Healey 3000, lined up on the far side of the hotel gardens, we drove back to Beaune for a little birthday celebration of one of our number (cake & Pol Roger anyone – 1998 ?) and a view of my host’s Domaine set up (markedly different from my own). I then said my au revoir’s & journeyed back to Morey to find the live in team and Arlaud family having lunch & intrigued as to my morning’s activities. My decline of lunch, as quite complet still from breakfast, elicited some surprise but I held my ground.

At this point I had the afternoon before me. The obvious best use of it was to get my vendange diaries written up to date and camera photos downloaded to laptop with a view to sending to Bill toute suite. However, another option came to mind and appealed. One of our live in number, young lady Tiffen, had a lovely dog with her which spent much time tied up in our yard, or in Herve’s garden adjacent to the cuverie whilst its owner triaged, or shut up in the back of her little white van. This dog, exact breed (if any) unknown to me, but a type of large French Collie or similar, was a bitch, and c 8 months old which went by the name of Gava or Java. A beautiful looking dog, it was/is very much a ‘one woman dog’ and extremely wary of strangers, prone to growl or lunge to bite if approached, and in my estimation would not be good with children. I’ve always loved dogs and so worked hard to get to know Gava who, over a few days, softened her attitude towards me such that she eventually started to greet me in the same excitable & affectionate fashion as she did her mistress, and Herve (whom I surmised the dog must have known previously from somewhere).

My quickly forming idea was for both the dog and myself to get some afternoon exercise and have some quiet escapism. The owner was delighted at my offer to walk Gava so I untied her (the dog !) and on her long rope we left Morey and took the road/track towards Clos St Denis, with the loose idea of continuing along the path that hugs the trees at the top of Chambertin & Chambertin Clos de Beze – maybe all the way to Gevrey and then back. The dog was delighted to be out and about and, for my part, I was enjoying the opportunity to give her some freedom and change. At Clos St Denis we headed up slope and eventually towards Morey Luisants. Here I rather naughtily, sorry M Ponsot, please excuse me, ignored the Privee signs and with dog (always on rope), climbed up slope to the top of Monts Luisants and along the slope to the petite maison where I sat on the porch a while to get my breath back. Along the way the vines, with very healthy looking grapes, both red and white, had caught the eye as very striking in health and quality looking terms as did the almost manicured looking vines and ground, some vines with dark green highly glossy foliage. I’d also noted some vines trained cross slope, as at Vosne Petit Monts, as opposd to the more conventional up and down slope.

Dog and self descended Monts Luisants on its Gevrey side following a wall bordering woods/forest back to the track/road – part way down we diverted to inspect a lovely looking little cabotte – a real work of art. At the bottom of Mont Luisants we then turned towards Gevrey ambling along. At the top of Chambertin Gava startled me suddenly by turning sharply back towards me from the extremity of the rope and quartering the ground wth her nose stuck to it. Clearly she’d picked up a scent and a casual glance to my right downslope revealed what her behaviour was about ! With its back to me & with large black tipped ears aloft, sat in the middle of the row of vines I was looking down, was a hare (a Lievre !) . Within seconds of me noticing it so did the dog – oops ! She almost had me half way down the slope in milli seconds in cartoon fashion as the hare did a wise runner and it was all I could do to dig my heels in and prevent the dog pursuing the hare with me as a drag weight !! That excitement over we continued beyond Chambertin to Clos de Beze. By this time, clad only in t-shirt for my top half, I’d been worriedly looking up continually at darkening clouds coming swiftly over the top of the Cote from the west & wondering at our prospects of making Gevrey. We didn’t – as the heavens opened – and camera bouncing, dog jogging on her rope, I legged it as fast as we could manage for Pierre Damoy’s well marked hut. A doorway afforded me a little protection but I was already pretty wet through as was a less concerned dog ! Fortunately, after depositing considrable precipitation, leaving the Route des Grand Crus back to Morey streaming with water , the rain soon passed enabling us to start walking back to Morey via road.

I soon got bored with the road and having to watch, and step aside, for passing traffic whilst controlling the dog as clearly not used to vehicles, so turned back up slope to the road/track back past Clos St Denis. Here, after initially noting and photographing a form of green vertical netting down 3 or more rows of vines, rain threatened again so I quickened pace towards a large track side tree across from Clos St Denis. A fellow walker with cute little Welsh/Fox Terrier cross dog, not on a lead which made me curse a little as to Gava’s potential reaction, coming towards me made the tree with the same intent as/before I . This turned out to be the always charming Thierry Brouin of Clos des Lambrays walking his young dog. Our respective dogs amusingly started to play with each other, Gava a little handicapped by her rope captive status, whilst Thierry (whom I’ve met any number of times, mainly in London) discussed matters vendange etc. He told me the netting I’d seen yards up the road was an experiment in hail protection. Otherwise, he seemed wholly content with his vendange, but looking downslope at unpicked grapes near us he opined he felt all should now be in and to delay was of no benefit & a risk. With the threat of rain passing, after just a few heavy drops, we went our respective ways with dogs, eventually a tired me, and a less tired but happy looking Gava, soon back to ‘home’ in Morey.

A delightful afternoon, well worth getting wet for, giving me a ‘warm glow’ I’d given Gava a sort of grand randonnee liberating afternoon. She was very good on her rope and touchingly continued to greet me all the more enthusiastically for the rest of the vendange.

Pics to illustrate our ramble. Days 8 & 9 details, such as they are, for two solid days of Bourgogne Roncevie the next instalment to come of a lengthening vendange.

Mark’s harvest: Vendange day 6

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 29, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 6, Sat 20th Sept 2014

A damp and claggy, rain in the air, cooler than previous starts to this day.

I’d been wondering when we’d get around to our final Morey 1er cru, ‘Aux Cheseaux’, & now had my answer as we started with it under gloomy skies and notably cooler temps, even allowing for the time of day (c 7.30 a.m ) we’re the first local domaine in the vines – no one beats Herve Arlaud, or the premier equipe de Morey !

Didn’t take us long at all to ‘knock off’ Cheseaux, grapes here largely similar to what we’d been seeing before elsewhere but just a little more rot here, in my rows at least. En vehicule for the next location and where on earth could we be going ??? Ahh, all revealed in due course – Vosne ‘Aux Reas’, the last of the negoce stuff. Maybe mid plot, top section. We were joined here in her Espace by Carol, wife of Cyprien, and their three daughters ages 9, 8, and 3, all keen to assist which was nice. Murky, misty, horizon making any sighting of Mont Blanc impossible, suggested rain maybe not out of the question but none came, thank goodness. Bit of village stuff to close out the morning then afternoon off we went to Gevrey ‘La Justice’. Some sizeable puddles, and very muddy, churned up, ground leading into the plot behind the block of flats from which we entered the plot at the eastern end. Always seems a strange way to get into a plot of vines and unless one knew it then one might never guess at the access.

Sun was getting warm again here after the claggy morning, in fact very warm, and sweat inducing as we ‘battled’ the indecently sized grapes and weight of fruit per vine. Here, in an unguarded moment, half way approx across the plot, I cut myself properly for the first time in years which made me yelp. My first vendange, 2006 with the delightful Duchesse, Amelie MacMahon at Domaine du Duc de Magenta, saw me make a right mess of my hands then as an untrained novice but since then familiarity had seen me largely wound free. On this latest occasion though I nipped hard the right front side of my left forefinger which then bled copiously for what seemed several minutes. Eventually after three requests to different porteurs one of them kindly brought me a plaster and some sticky tape to secure it with. Just after this much banter ensued with another domaine’s pickers going the other way in rows immediately adjacent. Following the pickers the boss on a tractor adjacent to the driver looked familiar. I called across which domaine to find myself speaking to Romain Taupenot, Domaine Taupenot-Merme, another Morey domaine here picking in Gevrey. I’ve met Romain several times at London tastings and like him a good deal. He laughed when I remarked I hadn’t initially recognised him without a suit and tie and said the same could be said about myself before we wished each other the best and moved on.

Think we did some more local stuff before finishing but recall is a bit hazy. Evening saw us joined for dinner by Cyprien and family which prompted much serious Tarot card playing amongst one or two of my fellow live in vendangeurs and Cyprien’s three daughters. Two nice wines served with dinner – a quite seriously good Morey 2005 Village and a Morey 2010 1er cru ‘Millandes’ which, for me, acknowledging its youth didn’t outdo the Village as fully showed the benefit of 2005.

Mark’s harvest: Vendange Day 5

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 29, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

Late evening Day 4 saw, from circa 21.30 onwards, as we finished our evening meal proceedings, a quite spectacular electrical and thunder storm over Morey which went on to about 12.30. Did not bode well for the following day, Friday, but at least cleared the air somewhat from the almost oppressive temperatures which had marked our vendange thus far.

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 5, Friday 19th Sept 2014
…dawned damp and fresher. Bit of rain in the air but nothing of consequence. Ground now muddy under foot akin to 2013. This, in grape cutting terms, was a ‘basic’ / routine day and so unremarkable I was never moved to take any photos. In essence we shuttled about around Morey and mainly the Chambolle side above and below the main D974 road cutting Morey & Chambolle Village and also, I think it was today, had our first look at white grapes via old vine Aligote on the railway side of the D974. I do like cutting Aligote but its essential to properly leaf strip each vine like a whirling dervish to make sure one does not miss any bunches – sure as you leave a leaf behind it will be you know what and its also easy to miss a small bunch of white grapes against the light hence looking over and down the other side of a vine, plus back at one’s moved on from, I find essential for a proper job. Rain came with ‘good’ timing at lunch time, just as we returned to Morey centre and continued such that it held up our resuming activities post lunch. Just though when I was harbouring thoughts of a luxury afternoon off, and maybe spending that at the cuverie trying to get up to date with stuff to Bill, the rain stopped around 14.00 hrs so we went again to late afternoon finishing with a nice looking plot of Morey Village. The ‘attraction’ of Chambolle Village though had waned somewhat though as the day had progressed such that the same evening, in making my customary visit to the cuverie for wi-fi use I was moved to say to a grinning Cyprien that I wasn’t sure if I was bothered about seeing another bottle of Chambolle Village again ! And so to evening meal and bed ! I’ll cover off wines consumed with dinner at a later date, the stand outs my contributions and two separate evenings efforts from Herve/Cyprien which were class ! Otherwise, the usual tipples were Bourgogne 2010 PTG and a unlabelled Bourgogne Aligote, with a Bourgogne Rose (a first for me here) making an increasing appearance as the vendange went on (think we’d drunk too much white !!! ).

Mark’s harvest: Vendange Day 4 – p.m Negoce !

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 28, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 4 (pm), Thurs 18th Sept 2014

Bonjour, tout le monde, sorry for the delayed re-appearance of notes, thoughts etc from Morey – we’ve been working like slaves and, despite best intentions any number of times, my journalistic desires (if one can call it that) have just had to take a ‘back seat’ to working, eating, sleeping (if one can with fellow room incumbent snoring, cat affectionately headbutting you awake at 3 a.m, or hand/arm crippling you, as all have featured – one and three every night), keeping clean, keeping one’s gear clean, etc etc etc. There is literally very little time to one’s self and when that occurs one is in bed or thinking you need to be !

I’ve already covered off what happened chez Arlaud day 4 morning in day 3’s ‘war and peace’ (Bill’s words not mine but was good of him not to edit – he probably didn’t have time / could not be a…d !). The related photos to what follows have already also been posted by Bill so what follows is just a ‘little’ supporting text. The real ‘fun’ action of Day 4 came in the afternoon when we sallied off to Vosne (yippee !) and had a ‘negoce’ afternoon similar to that as occurred in 2013 for the first time when Cyprien Arlaud deployed his newish negoce licence in full on intent. The afternoon’s exertions this year, and boy where they initially (exertions !), began at a Vougeot side roadside plot of Vosne Village (close by where David Clark had his Vosne Village before he sadly sold up – if you are reading this David hope you are good – you are thought of often, especially at the mo). The Vosne roadside vines produced grapes that were shockers with rot in 2013 but this year they are light years improved such its hard to believe they are from the same plot – there is some rot this year but in context nominal I’d say, and as everywhere you go it seems, you have these big butch bunches of grapes filling buckets and porteur’s cases in no time. It was ferociously hot again here and to say your’s truly was perspiring freely is really a gross misuse of ‘freely’ ! Several times on this vendange I’ve had very naughty fantasising thoughts what I might do for several cold lagers – just wait until I get home !

We moved on from the first roadside plot the short distance to ‘the other’ Vosne Village plot (that is besides Aux Reas – more of that another day) which is a block with its lower edge to the road, one of its longer sides to the tree lined avenue (where the war memorial is) leading into Vosne itself. The plot goes about half way up the distance to the village from the road. Good grief it was hot still. We beavered away, bit more rot here, but I was coupering well (one seems to have definite good and bad days) and finished my first allocated row in snappy fashion before the majority of the main gang (a rare event for this not getting any younger 57 yr old) . Herve moved me to another row over to the outside which brought me close up to my bete noir ! This is one Xavier (surname unknown). This, and I’m sorry but this is all true, unprepossessing skinny young male is not an attractive specimen in any way, and dresses and behaves as he looks. How about wearing the same grubby polo shirt, disgusting looking ‘fashion’ shorts, and scruffy trainers every day ??? One might think, ‘well, he probably washes them all overnight’ – I don’t think so !!! He and his ‘friends’, there are a gang of about 4 of them, endeared themselves to me on the first lunch when in our dining refectoire (the old US Army field hospital building) they grabbed the best seats on table 1, closest to the food (!), the table traditionally every year the preserve of the older, regular, team members and Herve as le boss. It soon became apparent why they had plonked themselves down where they had as, after demolishing their first helpings with a total lack of anything akin to table manners, they had the damn cheek (well, I thought it was, never having seen this in 5 years) to go back for seconds !!! And probably would have had thirds if they felt they could get away with it. Let me say there’s no way I’d want seconds so no envy etc there – I’ve stopped having cheese and dessert & limited my lunch wine intake so as not to adversely affect afternoon vineyard performance ! I was only also amazed the incredibly nice Beatrice, normal role the Arlaud office lady – for this vendange in charge of lunch dishing up/clearing up afterwards – let the ‘tribe’ have seconds but she did although she later mentioned to me another day she was fully aware of what was going on and in control !

Back to the incredible Xavier at Vosne. I’d already decided previously another day, that whilst we can’t all be blessed, and humbly admitting I wasn’t the quickest once upon a time, that he has to be the worst and most devious couper I’ve had the misfortune to come across in 7 years. On, I think, day 2 having doubtless recognised his cutting limitations (or lack of desire for anything akin to graft) he tried his hand at being a porteur . How that had come about amazed me at the time as cut out to be a porteur Xavier clearly was not – suffice to say that didn’t last long, thank god ! Anyway, back to Xavier at Vosne, and cutting a long story short, I could not believe what I was seeing. Kid you all not, he must have taken c10 minutes phaffing about with one vine, some of that time taken up by being ducked below it, doubtless to avoid being seen ! How, through the vendange, Herve didn’t sack this guy was totally beyond me but that afternoon in Vosne just left me seething at what the lazy so and so was getting away with – as ultimately we all end up doing what he should.

Badly needed, well earned rest required and much slopping of water drinks at the end of the Village exertions before the routine cry of ‘en vehicule’. Off we went up into and through the streets of Vosne, weaving left from the centre place, and around other domaines vehicles and equipment in the narrow back streets, up past ‘La Grande Rue’ on our left (brought back sad thoughts of the unfortunate/untimely death of M Lamarche in the last year), ‘Romanee-Conti’ and ‘La Romanee’ on our right, to a spot now high up on the road near ‘Aux Reignots’ where we disembarked and grabbed buckets and secateurs to the superbly located and, for me, endlessly fascinating Vosne 1er cru ‘Les Petits Monts’.

The vines from which Arlaud buy the grapes here are on the far side and top part of the plot and, unlike most others, are trained across slope rather than more conventional up and down. The rows are tight together, and with a steepish slope, one needs to keep an eye one’s bucket is level and have a secure footing – for the latter I found to wedge one foot against the base of a vine behind you, with the other foot upslope just under the vines being picked gave a secure ‘platform’. We were doubled up two to a row leapfrogging each other and soon seemed to have completed the the cut. The ground was dry underfoot and, yes, the grapes looked fantastic, rot free, and so was the quantity such that we were struggling for cases/porteurs to take the amount we were pulling off the vines. Amazing compared to 2013 when nothing like the quantity and some indifferent quality. Happy days ! Just a bit of time to admire the incredible vistas of Vosne below, and up and down the Cote – amazing on a clear day – and snap a few photos. No sign this year of my smiley photo subject of 2013, Henri Audiffred, who’s premises though I had noted as we entered Vosne. At this stage it was well on into the afternoon hence I just assumed we’d have a restful drive back to Morey, possibly cut some village or Bourgogne and that would be ‘it’ for the day. Err, not quite, I’d forgotten something ! My excuse here is that I’d not been involved in the plot in question in 2013 as then we’d been split and I’d ‘done’ Bonnes-Mares. From Petit-Monts we dropped back downhill then took the road north between Romanee-Conti & Romanee St-Vivant, past a very well (i.e expensively !) dressed mature lady getting back into her expensive looking Mercedes-Benz estate (she did not look like a tourist albeit I didn’t recognise her !), then onward past Les Richebourgs to the left, RSV part two to the right, before a slight right hand ‘dogleg’ through Vosne ‘1er ‘Les Suchots’, pulling up at somewhere entirely new to me ! Puzzled, above me was a sort of Combe. Where was this ?!?! Question asked – doh, Echezeaux GC Les Treux !!! I’d forgotten all about this ! Wow, my first ever work in a V-R related GC. And what vines, goodness me did these look old – turned out average age c70 years old – tres vieilles vignes ??? Bill’s already published a grapes on vine photo – entirely representative – gawd, I want some of the wine from here when its released (if I can afford it !!!). An amazing end to a varied, interesting, exciting in parts, and hard working day – maybe not quite at the wow factor of Day 3 but not far from it and, together, just the best two collective days without a doubt of my seven years vendange experience. Not all vendange work can be so amaze balls (no protests, this is a proper phrase included in the Oxford English Dictionary I’ve been dying to use for ages although not suited to my usual banking day job !) as I’ll outline in coming days but I’ll take what we’ve done so far as some sort of experience to live long in the memory.

there’s a hole…

By billn on September 25, 2014 #harvests#vintage 2014

Luckily, I’ve plenty of things to type. I’ve even more things to arrange – such as my first wave of tastings for white 2013s. But there’s a bit of a hole…

There are no more grapes – and come to think of it, no Mark de Morey either – he seems lost in action!

Of-course, it can be a little wearying, but it’s great to be part of a team, and one that can make such a difference – that’s the triage team – of-course! We brought (almost) the last grapes in on Tuesday, and then yesterday it rained – it seems planned like a well-oiled machine – eh?! 🙂

But more of today – I see that Panos beat me to the punch at winesearcher. It’s a more nuanced version of the terrible headline-making of Decanter and it’s worth your time. It’s the first time I’ve seen the suzukis linked to late cherries, but why not…

Burgundy Harvest 23 September 2014…

By billn on September 23, 2014 #degustation#harvests#vintage 2014

OUF! That’s cold!

We woke today to blue skies and what would turn out to be a day of glorious sunshine – but OUF (again) – the temperature, and that wind is cold – are we suddenly in November? Heading to the triage table, my gillet wasn’t enough – I needed double-gillet-ing!

Today we started with grapes from Lavaux St.Jacques – they were grapes to warm the hart – if not my blue fingers while sorting. Really only the most peripheral of sorting was required, indeed they were so good that half our cache went straight to the fermentation tank with their stems intact. Lovely stuff.

Actually not so many grapes today, so we have the luxury of lunch closer to 12h00 than 14h00. My 2000 Pavelot Dominode is sublime (as is a lovely Meerlust Chardonnay), and really concentrated for the vintage – essence of dark, half-roast redcurrant on the nose – I could sniff all afternoon. But. There is Marsannay today too.

Actually the Marsannay are almost our last grapes for this vintage; only a little Hautes Côtes red and white remain on the vine – where they will stay until the end of the week. There were some unripe bunches to pull from this Marsannay, a little dried material too, but again, very, very little rot.

So that’s my triage for 2014. Almost all the home domaine’s tanks are now full. A good team and great grapes.

Burgundy Report

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