Vintage 2015

09 september – 2015 harvest day 6

By billn on September 10, 2015 #vintage 2015

A late-ish finish yesterday, so only chance to type this the day after.

Despite our expectations of a very late finish, it was only a late finish – 21h30. We found a couple of libations to relax afterwards! The reason for the earlier than expected finish is the pinot yield. Before harvesting, looking at the vines it seemed to all the growers (and observers!) that yields would not be massive, but would be okay – though still very low in areas which were 3x hailed as those vines haven’t fully recovered – but reality is different. Very common are yields of only 2/3rds what people expected – it’s not really down to berry size as the average is not so small, and millerandes are much less common this year – there’s some head-scratching from producers.

We had a big new contract this year for fruit for bourgogne rouge, I won’t say where from, but what a coup. This fruit looked better than the vast majority of grapes that ever pass along the triage table – a big round of applause for this grower! – and I certainly include grand crus in that statement. Simply a pleasure to triage: no oïdium, very, very little rot, very little dried berries – I’ll say it again, a pleasure.

Our Vosne-Romanée looked similarly great in the cases as it waited for triage, but on the table we had to deal with quite a lot of oïdium – it’s insidious and very hard to triage as it creeps into parts of bunches but (seemingly!) not the rest of the bunch – or it simply frizzles whole bunches. The clusters look like they’ve been breathed-on by death-eaters. I eat plenty of grapes along the way, but not so much when this is on the table. Still some parts of this were fine and we selected about 4 or 5 cases of good-looking whole-clusters for the fermentation.

Clean-up expedited and it’s only 21h30 – what unexpected fortune – though only because we had fewer cases of fruit than were expected!

mark: domaine arlaud’s harvest diary, tuesday…

By billn on September 09, 2015 #vintage 2015


Arlaud Vendange Day Two – Tuesday, 08 09 2015

Time is at an absolute premium during one’s vendange, and I’m not joking. I don’t know how Bill does what he does (seriously) with the website as well as his ‘main’ duties 😉 .

Quick snapshot of how my day goes:- up at 5.00 a.m, ablutions, sometimes with wet shave sometimes not, get my clothes sorted for the day plus my other ‘stuff’ i.e knee pads, that day’s left hand glove (don’t wear one on my secateur hand), get up the yard for brekkie (I just have coffee and a breakfast bar plus sometimes a banana), then we’re almost ready to go between 7.00 a.m. – 7.30 a.m. We work (hard !) until approx 12.00 then pile back into the vehicles to Morey Centre, get cleaned up, clean the buckets and secateurs (well, some of us do, funny how just a few of us do that), lunch, short siesta or whatever other thing you may need to attend to, then we go again about 1.30, maybe earlier. Work until close to 6.00 p.m. then same routine back. Here, in my case I might clean my gear quickly as well as top and tail myself, or just get changed quickly so as to dash to the cuverie for the wi-fi (for Burgundy Report, nowt else). Head back to the village for about 8.00 p.m for dinner with my fellow lodgers then bed unless I do more tech work e.g photo downloads. One sleeps well, at least I do, i.e as soon as my head hits the pillow !

Back to Tuesday’s vines matters. After a rather leisurely Monday the full team arrived Tuesday a.m. Mostly very familiar by now faces, just a few new youngsters and one or two older. A group of 4 ladies stand out – I’m guessing mother and three grown up daughters. More of them later . Evereybody’s French except moi, just how I like it !

As regards work in the vines this was largely a Villages day, and unremarkable except for a) it was a lovely warm, sunny, dry day again (very hot in the afternoon !); b) the village grapes were all uniformly excellent. No rot at all (for me anyway – remarkable). They varied from great big pendulous bunches to small fiddly bits of millerandage (and everthing, but clean, in between). Just bits of odium; c) Volume seemed pretty good but Cyprien was to tell me later its down on 2014 – but I’ll check back in on this later.

Just on the 2014’s I’ve heard and read little so far on the wines from that year and am keen to learn more from my man’s perspective but he has briefly told me he likens them to 2002. Again, I’m intent on finding out more and maybe having a taste or two. But, I just wonder if 2014 might be a ‘Cinderella’ vintage to 2015 ? We’ll see I guess but, such is the demand for Burgundy these days, surely to goodness there won’t be difficulties selling 2014 (will there ?) .

After a mostly Chambolle morning, part of it just to the south of Roumier’s Clos de la Bussiere, (and am led to believe we might have done all the Chambolle village but am not so sure my informant, Rene the truck driver, is correct at all – we’ll see) we went north of the village to do some long rows of again jaw droppingly fantastic fruit from some Morey Villages. And then to lunch. Apres lunch, back to Morey Village until late in the day when we had our first domaine owned premier cru action (other than Monday’s negoce Nuits). Well, what can I say ? The recipe is the same in terms of wow factor. I thought maybe 2014 was some way the best in terms of grapes in my 8 vendange in Morey but now I’m not so sure at all. In the likes of Millandes, Blanchards and Ruchots some elements of rot is the norm. Not this time monsieur ! This was a most enjoyable romp up slope in Millandes with only the day’s fatigue and stiff back weighing on the pleasure factor. I’ll shut up now, whiz this to Bill, and accompany it with some photos for hopefully you to adjudge fruit quality for yourself !

Lots of exciting stuff to come on Wednesday’s diary note including the first grand cru action and grand cru porn !

Oh, and the weather, whilst still good (if not better than that) is subtly changing I think. Haven’t seen a weather forecast but guess Bill has and will be spot on re Saturday and Sunday. Hum !


comte liger-beair, now in clos de vougeot flavour!

By billn on September 08, 2015 #vintage 2015

Louis-Michel Liger-Belair today posted pictures of him triaging his new purchase – grand cru Clos de Vougeot. Okay, you might just say ‘it’s a grape purchase’ but it’s a little more committed than that; it is a 10 year contract for fruit from organically managed mid-slope vines. I really can’t wait to see how it lines up in his cellar – despite it’s often dowdy reputation, I consider a top CV to be at least as good as a great Chambertin.

Let’s see!


a pictorial jog around beaune and pommard ce soir

By billn on September 08, 2015 #travels in burgundy 2015#vintage 2015

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Looking to Clos des Mouches from over the border with Pommard.

Jogging around Beaune/Pommard tonight – my back appreciates it more than standing all day at the triage table. Through my chose route, over 90% of the grapes seem to have been harvested here:

the return of the mark – domaine arlaud’s harvest diary…

By Marko de Morey de la Vosne on September 08, 2015 #vintage 2015

Arlaud Vendange 2015 – Monday 7th Sept 2015 ( and un peu Sunday)

Sunday :-
Bonjour toute le monde ! Je suis arrive !!! In Morey-St-Denis that is for my 8th vendange avec le premier equipe de Morey.

Various conflicting potential start dates by email to my banking day job over the preceding couple of weeks had been stirring the anticipatory senses. We’d (Cyprien Arlaud et moi) eventually settled on a Monday 7th Sept start which had me departing my NW England home the preceeding Saturday evening for an uneventful drive to Dover for le bateau, rocked along by the peerless Nils Lofgren on the CD and boring Talksport Radio discussion about whether Wayne Rooney is an England football great (absolutely no way for this 3rd generation lifelong Liverpool FC fan who cannot see anything remotely ‘good’ in any aspect of/connection with Manscumchester Utd !).

Ferry at 3.20 from Dover traverse La Manche and arrival in Calais circa 6.00 a.m. Autoroute to Burgundy was uneventful other than two ladies backing into each other with le crunch at a rest area. How common are Common Buzzards on the autoroute ?? I saw lots on fence posts plus other smaller hawks and, around Reims, three hovering kestrels within a mile. CD Music en France was Pink Floyd, Lez Zeppelin, and belatedly Bob Dylan. Arrived on the Cote from Dijon Sud. Had been beautiful weather, if nippy early on at occasional rest area halts when my eyelids started to protest. Driving into Morey nice and warm, just a gentle breeze. Being a Sunday as quiet as the proverbial burial ground. No one in the vines, well it was lunchtime as well as a Sunday ! I’d not seen any ubiquitous white vans in the Champagne vineyards either as visible from the autoroute.

Morey centre was its unchanged (will it ever?) self. Eerily quiet. Car park mort suggesting no domaines had maybe yet started their harvests, I unpacked quickly lugging one case of ‘good’ clothes, and one of vendange ‘rough’ gear, plus case of wine (13 various bottles from home), plus electricals up the steep stone stairs and into my rough wooden floor boarded, metal ex Armee bunk beds, atelier. My home for the vendange, lovely ! Made my bed with sheets and blanket and, resisting temptation for siesta, tripped off en voiture to the Arlaud cuverie. Vines looked good as I crossed the main road. Arlaud cuverie had a new smart & tasteful name sign not there last year. Also new a smart, dark red, expensive looking Buchler Vaslin press outside under the porch front with all the other equipment ready for vendange take off. Full triage supa clean table quietly ready for action plus two fork lifts and lots of stacked cases for the grapes. Whilst I was taking a few photos a BMW X5 pulled around the corner. Turned out to be the Arlaud Dutch importer who was seemingly baffled no one was around & he was being greeted by a crazy Englishman. I helpfully suggested he maybe return later, or better still Monday, and that I would advise Cyprien we’d met.

Back to the le village centre via a diversion ‘around the block’ as it were from the cuverie towards the railway line to nosily see what a massive tower crane was all about. Sacre bleu, une grande construction, akin to a concrete nuclear bunker – and someone had been digging deep from the mound of earth adjacent ! I was to learn later this was the site of a new cuverie for my friend, M Raphet Senior’s, domaine now in the hands of his son, and that Domaine Raphet would move here on completion, consolidating from currently three separate sites around the village. One assumes the cost must be formidable (pronounced in French). Just a very few of us for evening meal with Herve, Cyprien, wife Carol and their lively, growing up fast, perpetual motion, three young daughters – how does maman cope, especially as there is now clearly a fourth event pending – late October I was advised !!!. arol would not admit to me that a boy would be nice but did tell me Greg Gouges and partner also had a child event pending. Only semi regular Bastien was sleeping over in the next flat along from me but we also had a stagiste from Metz who’s learning wine making and has studied in New Zealand plus the engaging Jessica who has given up study of law, and now hails from a Luxembourg based wine brokers (with some link to the domaine) who would be with us for three days only – both living in the domestic property at the entrance to the yard. Both M Stagiste (I’ll recall his name soon !) and Jessica have excellent English to my shame so I can have conversation rather than just for the most part be in listening mode. Plan of attack for Monday was approx 12-14 of us in total would pick Nuits St Georges 1er cru Les Porrets St George (a negoce terroir) and some unidentified other stuff. The full vendangeur team would arrive Tuesday for the main action.

A convivial evening meal, for which, alongside the usual Arlaud PTG & delish chilled Aligote, I offered a Pascal Jolivet 2013 Sancerre ‘Les Caillotes’ , seemed to be well received, and so to bed to be ready for the morning’s gentle sounding start. Sooooo good to be back in this place again. I almost forgot to mention I’d been looking for Monsieur Jean Raphet Senior next door. Not for one of his potentially long one on one tastings of whatever he fancied opening for company with l’anglais but as I’d brought a gift for him (nice Scotch whisky) to partially repay his super generosity when I arrived in 2014 and between us we’d guzzled (well, I did more than he) a delish Domaine Raphet 2000 Clos de Vougeot GC, post which he’d insisted on so generously gifting me another bottle of the same wine (which I still have). There was no sign of habitation next door which looked odd/unusual – maybe en vacances I thought. Maybe later in the week.

No slacking a la Domaine Arlaud with Herve around ! Even with just the handful of us we were off before 7.30 a.m. towards Nuit St Georges in the 2 double cab lorries which sufficed for our party. Vans for the reinforcement would arrive Tuesday. Our first terroir was one of the negoce sites, Nuits St Georges Les Porrets (Poirets ?) St Georges on the far side of town with rock face above and Gouges Clos des Porrets adjacent to the north. Felt a little odd initially handling the secateurs again but the ‘rhythm’ soon clicked ! How nice was this, dry ground, obviously going to be a warm, if not hot, day, and what grapes to be greeted with ???? Prepare to be bored if Bill doesn’t beat me to it which I guess he will. Where’s the rot ? None whatsoever ! Super fruit. Better than 2014 ? We’ll see. Not as much volume is a vague recollection but it’s the first site This looks like it will be an interesting year, tres beau raisins as my employers would repeat. We don’t do many rows here so didn’t take us long but was just brilliant enjoyment and a nice entrée to this year’s vendange.

Back to the cuverie to unload the caisses. We just pushed them into the cuverie as they were, presumably to be attended to later. But where to next ? I couldn’t follow the route below the main road, going north of Morey, not far from the trainline. Seemed like we might be heading for Roncevie but, no, we stopped before that. Cremant I was told, eh ? I’d never got my hands dirty in this plot before in 8 years so assumed it was either newly rented or, more likely, might have been machined in past years. Aligote was the subject matter and plenty of it. All was very relaxed though, and without sounding boring, this took us the rest of the day, with none of the usual pressure and a break for lunch as usual.

Eving saw some of the other regulars arrive, notably Renee, Serge, Daniel plus Jackie who has the linking room behind mine. Dede also rocked up via taxi from the train, pulling a face to tell me had taken him 2 hours. A rather ‘interesting evening meal ensued ! Serge was at the stove cooking a decent volume of fish akin to deep fried whitebait (but bigger than the white bait I’ve had in England!). He also had a fortunately lesser amount of the dreaded escargot (yes, snails) cooking in a very large frying pan – looked like mushrooms but didn’t taste like fungi ! Herve, Cyprien, Carol and the 3 girls all joined us again for a noisy, fun filled, evening. The fish were delicious and a superb match for the chilled Arlaud Vin Blanc Nature (Aligote). Yum ! The escargot were ‘ok’, not really my ‘thing’ but better for not being in the cream and heavily garliced sauce when they were first inflicted on me a few years ago to then much mirth at my expense. And so to bed 2. A Village day Tuesday, the 8th, with a 1er cru end to the day. More in the next instalment from the Morey Diary !

08 september – 2015 harvest day 5

By billn on September 08, 2015 #vintage 2015

Great fruit this morning – in parts anyway – and that was Santenay Clos Rousseau. There’s a young-vines part, an old-vines part, and a very old-vines part. It seems to me that there’s usually a bit of competition with the grower’s own pickers as to who gets what – we seemed to have a bit of everything today. There are some vintages where occasional barrels of this wine have a grand cru class about their mid-palate and finishing complexity, but frustratingly the assemblage of barrels has never quite managed to capture that – I suppose that the next time it happens, I will have to buy a whole barrel 😉

There was no oïdium here, but there was botrytis in the younger vines with their fatter bunches – all easy to triage, and that’s exactly why we do triage. The form of the clusters from the old vines reminded me quite a lot of the pretty, small clusters from 2010, but generally (as every day) the cluster size was larger.

Just before lunch our chief had frown on his face while speaking into his phone – he’d called one hour ahead, as planned, about delivering the cases to a grower for our afternoon’s grapes – to which the grower replied, ‘Oh we’re now going to pick those vines tomorrow’. Our chief, biting his lip, pointed out that he’d arranged Tuesday because he would have no cases available on Wednesday, as we already had a full day planned. In response to this info the grower got a little ‘shouty’ – that’s the reality of buying grapes, often you have to take what you’re given and say ‘thank-you’ – particularly from sought-after villages…

So no grapes at all this afternoon, we lunched then cleaned – the place was spotless by 15h00. But tomorrow we will have 12 tonnes – lots of coffee will be required as I doubt we will be finished before 10pm.

07 september – 2015 harvest day 4

By billn on September 07, 2015 #vintage 2015


Let me tell you – it’s quite chilly in the mornings. After handling the grapes for a while, you beg a large, restorative mug of coffee to tease the blood back into your fingers – well, I do anyway! The week is set fair with sunny days and cold nights – the forecasters suggest that temperatures might reach the heady heights of 24°C mid-week, but today, despite endless blue sky, it’s probably peaking at only 18°C.

Today it’s a balance between Côte de Beaune red and our first Côte de Nuits red. The glamorous grand cru, Corton Clos du Roi to finish our day versus ‘villages’ Gevery-Chambertin Le Crais to get us up and running. It’s not a big volume day, probably similar to yesterday with 4-5 tonnes of grapes, but we are slowly warming up to the more challenging days ahead. The Crais was a mix of super clusters and bigger fatter ones – in-line with the usual older/younger vines that we always see – indeed the old-vine part were the prettiest clusters I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately one or two cases of fruit also had more than a bit of powdery mildew (oïdium) which isn’t easy to triage – I’ve actually never seen this much before in any vintage. But, overall, very fine indeed 😉

The Corton Clos du Roi never has tiny, elegant clusters – they were big and warm (picked at 13h00) and seemed rather ripe – but then it’s like that every year, and every year it delivers a stunning wine – so let’s see.

Clean-up was quick, and needed just 75 minutes. A quick jog followed, then a visit to the wash-a-teria – showering beforehand, of-course 😉

Also today, as a trial, a new destemmer that should leave more intact berries and leave less stems in the mix. Let’s see!

06 september – 2015 harvest day 3

By billn on September 06, 2015 #vintage 2015

Don’t believe the 2015 hype – well, don’t accept it as universal anyway – this is Burgundy.

Today was a Volnay at the home domaine – Volnay 1er cru and Volnay villages. This vineyard/plot/vine selection delivers plenty of rot – every year. It also usually brings a lot of unripe clusters which are simply thrown away – which I find incredibly frustrating – but it always makes a beautiful, clichéed, floral Volnay – sometimes better than our Caillerets (like in 2011…). This year, there’s still plenty of hard work in triage, but certainly less than usual. Less unripe clusters too – not particularly small berries but I’m pretty sure this will be a good wine.

A modest day – only 4.5 tonnes triaged 😉

05 september – 2015 harvest day 2

By billn on September 05, 2015 #vintage 2015

WP_20150905_11_20_37_ProIt’s Saturday, and at 07h00 it’s not fully light – where did the summer go?!

Today is a cool, cloudy day – it’s also a relatively modest work-day – and for 2 reasons: 1 we only have two loads of chardonnay to triage today, and 2 there is almost no triage to do! A few leaves need removing, and from 1,800kg of fruit (first load – Meursault Vireuils) I found only one bunch with some porriture – JUST 1 BUNCH!

In the three hours that follow the Meursault (the time it takes to make the pressing), we have the chance to drink coffee, eat croissants, wash all the cases the fruit was delivered in, and take an hour to walk around the market in Beaune. Our day’s second parcel (Chassagne Tête du Clos) has more leaves to triage, seems a hint less juicy but with more dry extract – it is after-all a 1er cru! Unforunately there’s very much less if this. I find three bunches with a little porriture and one with oïdium – not too much for 2.5 barrels worth.

The grapes today have been an appealing (to me) blend of the slightly green, and more than slightly gold – and some in-between. Frankly they looked an ideal combination if you want some complexity. Clearly the skins are thick, and if you chew on those skins you can get a phenolic impression. Really, really, the type of programme on the press will make such a difference. We are running the triage and press without sulfur – only when all the brown juice (except the last press) is in the tank, and we know exactly how much is in that tank, does it receive a calming squirt of sulfur.

So a modest work-day, and we took lunch in a leisurely fashion, but the clean-up was still not complete until almost 5pm. Tomorrow will be a later start – 09h30 – and I’m already calling it ‘Volnay-day…’

Burgundy Report

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