Arlaud Vendange Day 5 Friday 7th September
Aligote x 2, Morey Villages (vers Roncevie), Vosne P-M, Morey Clos Solon, Morey Aux Cheseaux:
Friday turned out to be another very warm day but in terroir & picking terms a very varied one. We ‘kicked off’ with two separate parcels of Aligote in the area just south of the village’s main road traffic light junction and ‘below’ the road. The Aligote is looking really good this year (2016 was a disaster). I like picking Aligote and white grapes generally but one has to be thorough in leaf stripping or its all too easy to miss a bunch. One can almost guarantee if you don’t strip a leaf, or look behind it, then some grapes will be hiding. One of the two parcels was a little unusual in that Arlaud ‘only’ seemed to have a part of each of the very long rows, with the white paint splodge on a post coming also part way along the row to signify where to stop. I must have picked in these rows before but can’t recall ever noticing this. The Aligote took us to c9.30 when we re-embarked in the vans for a relatively short hop north of the village, still below & next to the main road, in a location similar to, but not as far as, Roncevie. This was Pinot classed as Morey Village which just shows how ‘daft’ are the inter-village politics which causes Arlaud’s Roncevie to be a Bourgogne as the upper part of Roncevie and the Morey Village we were about to tackle aren’t ‘that’ far apart and similar. I guess though not all of Arlaud’s Roncevie could be classed as ‘village’ i.e those sections further away from the road. Anyway, the slog that is Roncevie’s 5ha was still to come, meantime today’s section of the Morey took us up to lunch. I didn’t take any photos here which belatedly can only attribute to the fruit being unremarkable i.e good, but could also have been down to picking speed.
Lunch was another good one with some sort of pale minced up meat wrapped ‘en croute’ in pastry (almost like a sausage roll or similar) accompanied by pasta with a crunchy cheesy topping and sauce. My early refectoire dining room seat was opposite Maxime, whom I took to be from one of France’s former African colonies although I never asked him where he (or maybe family) came from. He told me he was from Chenove when I asked if he lived in Dijon (as many of the team do). Maxime takes his lunches very seriously which is endearing to watch. Maybe too seriously on occasion as he often seemed to have the non meat element of his meals (e.g potatoes, pasta etc) piled high on his plate but left a goodly portion. More unusually he declined wine (and I never saw him with a beer either) & seemed to drink only water. Right from his first greeting of me, & me him, when he learnt I was English (or British) he was obsessed with the UK’s Brexit (I’ve no idea why – language abilities on both sides prevented political exploration) and thereafter he always greeted me, without fail, in his heavy accent as ‘Mr Brexit Man’ – which became and was amusing to us all.
Post lunch then a moment I’d been eagerly anticipating ever since we ‘did’ Echezeaux & CSD. When the usual call to vehicles came I went, as usual, to hop onto the front bench seat of one of the two ageing, white, battered Mercedes Sprinter vans (perhaps the most unusual looking rental vans one might come across !) with my outside perch alongside J-P Feral & with Herve on the driver’s side. However, Climent grabbed my arm & directed me to the black, almost new looking, VW Caravelle mini bus which he drove throughout. The reason for my vehicle direction was quickly obvious – a number of us were off to Vosne for tackling premier cru, Petit-Monts. This is just a fantastic location, high up above Vosne with a superb vista looking down on Vosne, and with Nuits St-Georges to the north. Lamarche’s team were ‘hard at it’ in La Grande Rue as we climbed. The road narrows and takes a very sharp right a little before we go no further, other than on foot. A short walk from the vehicles takes us to the vines but the Arlaud (negoce) parcel requires a left turn upwards, then a right along the hill slope to come to ‘our’ section. Unusually, this parcel of vines as I’ve recorded in past years (but do so again for new readers) is planted longitudinally across the slope whereas the earlier vines we walk past in different ownership are conventionally planted ‘vertically’ i.e up/down the slope. Its quite steep hence picking grapes from vines so planted, with minimal room between rows, can be trickier than might be imagined in terms of one’s stance and making sure one’s bucket doesn’t go somewhere down slope it shouldn’t ! Arlaud have had/worked these P-M vines from 2013 inclusive and the benefits of Arlaud’s husbandry has become clear to see over the years. A very good advertisement for biodynamism. We’d just started picking when I became aware there was a human figure some way ahead of me in my row. For a split second I assumed this must be a picker for another domaine on adjacent rows but quickly realised as the figure approached I was looking at a young lady, smartly dressed in leisure clothing (included a Blancpain Series top) and carrying a camera with one of those huge grey lenses which made my slung Canon G16 look puny ! It turned out this presumably professional photographer had been commissioned by Cyprien to take vendange photos for the Arlaud website. We’d see more of this girl on Sunday to come but for now she moved amongst, sometimes, very close, ‘snapping’ us in action. I generally do not like having my photo taken at all, with my long joking the ‘first rule of vendange is Mark takes photos, Mark does not appear on photos’ so I’m rather hoping I will not be making any website appearance in due course. My Canon was however approved of by this professional as ‘a good camera’.
Our number quickly & efficiently dealt with Petit-Monts. Our walk back to the vehicles initially brought us to a small white pickup piled high with thin cases. Standing on the down position tailgate were two youngish muscular individuals who’s polo shirts identified them as staff of Domaine des Comte(s ?) Liger-Belair. I could have fancied one of those polo shirts or an Arlaud equivalent but Cyprien’s moving with the times haven’t yet extended to any ‘uniform’ for his domaine staff, let alone our motley vendangeur crew !
Back in the vans we dropped down into Vosne. I tried a couple of photos of La Grande Rue from the moving/bouncing mini bus window and when I came to download was gratified to see at least one photo had ‘worked’.
From Vosne our return to Morey saw us re-join the rest of the team who’d not been Vosne bound. They were in Morey Clos Solon where we helped them quickly finish their rows before we all moved on as one to Morey 1er Aux Cheseaux, the final of our premier crus (as often seems the case). By now it was blisteringly hot with water intake essential and much needed (by me particularly) hence we had a break before commencing. I never asked directly but assumed the hot, & occasionally, humid weather was behind another new for this year development which could see Herve or Climent (occasionally one of the porteurs) move amongst us in the rows whilst we worked, morning and afternoon, dispensing welcome drinks from those plastic barrel type things bulk wine might come in or similar. We also seemed to be finishing regularly at c17.00 hours, an hour earlier than I’d been used to in past years (but I wasn’t complaining ! I put this down to the energy sapping heat.
We only part completed Aux Cheseaux before the day’s closure – we’d return to finish the next morning. I’ve noticed I’ve captioned a couple of late afternoon taken photos from here, seemingly without thinking/automatically, as Aligote. Now, thinking about it, I did have a couple of vines at least which, whilst they should of course have been Pinot Noir, bore ‘white’ grapes. These may not necessarily have been Aligote but could be something else – if someone can identify (assuming Bill includes said photos) then please be my guest !
And so wearily back to base, bucket cleaning and a beer, then one’s own gear & self cleaning.
Marko de Morey completed 15/9/2018