mark’s harvest: 17 sept (pics)…

Burgundy Harvest 18 September 2014…

So – what reason to open a bottle today? Hmm – well, on this day in 1635 Emperor Ferdinand II declared war on France – seems a good enough reason!

I bought these direct from the domaine after tasting from barrel in 2003, but there was a mistake – the labels may have said Petits-Monts, but the (correct!) cork said Malconsorts. So I had to buy 6 more Petits-Monts as I didn’t want to give these Malconsorts back – despite having 6 of those too! Well, after more than 10 years in the cellar, I’d no idea if this was a Malconsorts or PM – it turned out to be Malconsorts.

2002 Nicolas Potel, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Malconsorts
I’ve drunk about 4 or 5 of these since they were purchased and this is, by a long way, the least interesting. The nose has fine width, something of the spiciness of Vosne, but it hovers close to brett, or even a hint of oxidation – but the cork looks perfect. In the mouth it’s medium-bodied, rather direct but well-balanced. The finish rolls-off just a little too quickly. I had a second (decent-sized) glass, but overall, I thought this wine not up to standard…
Rebuy – No

Rain was forecast for late-on yesterday. I saw a few flashes of lightning in the sky about 21h00, but none came to Beaune. Today we have no clouds and it’s forecast to pass 25°C in the afternoon.

Today is a quiet day at the home domaine – yet a bit of pre-lunch excitement at the only grapes of the day: Corton-Charlemagne.

They tasted great. Just like the reds of Côte de Beaune, close to zero rot – I saw one piece in 4 pallets-worth of fruit. There were some dried grapes – perhaps due to hail, but none that were split like you’d see in hailed pinot. This required only the most cursory of triage – just to remove the leaves – we even left the occasional cluster of pinot for good luck – well, its grand cru too.

Then all into the press. It was a long, 3-4 hour press – but not too hard – before the juice was run into a stainless-steel tank. The juice will stay in the tank overnight before being run into barrel tomorrow…

Burgundy Harvest 17 September 2014…

The plastic ‘cork’ now says Très Vieilles-Vignes, though the label says Vieilles-Vignes – they were 100 years-old in 2005. Anyway, life may have moved on, but today was the 26th anniversary of me getting married – so a good excuse for a nice bottle!

2012 Chézeaux (Ponsot), Clos St.Denis
Wow! This is deeply coloured. The nose is not über demonstrative but is fine and complex, darkly fruited and smooth – it’s ripe but safely avoids ‘over-ripe.’ Ouf! This is really mouth-filling and silky – but super-concentrated in the mid-palate – real 2012 heft from there into the finish. Very, very, very long on a stony and mildly mineral note. It’s very hard to find the tannin here, such is the extract of buffering fruit. Simply exceptional!
Rebuy – Yes

Ah-yes – the harvest! Well, my back made a miraculous recovery for the morning session – Diclofenac-mediated – so onwards!

Starting at 09h00 with Beaune 1er Les Cras we had better grapes, on average, than yesterday’s Beaune Les Avaux – still hailed of-course, but the ‘clusters’ left behind much of their dried berries whilst passing across the vibrating table. On the whole another good result despite the low yield. Next we had Biodynamic Ladoix – and what lovely grapes – very, very little botrytis here. For the first time we could speed up our triage table. Just a few ladybirds noted under the vibrating table, but none on the triage table itself – maybe this is now becoming part of terroir, assuming you are Biodynamic 😉

The advantage of working the harvest at a négoce is that, not only do you get to see grapes from almost every village up and down the Côte d’Or, you get to see the fruits from different growers (and their different approaches) too. There are some vineyard/grower combinations that you really anticipate – not necessarily for the same reasons though – today we had both!!! First up, Santenay 1er cru which is always scruffy and full of botrytis – it usually takes an inordinate amount of time to triage – but today, wow, it was beautiful. The level of rot easily the equal of 2005, maybe even less. I was amazed. The other I was looking forward to is the villages Vosne-Romanée Vieilles-Vignes – as always, this was simply wonderful stuff. You can see from the photo that (on the right) the average grape size was much larger than the Facebook bunch to the left – the smaller bunch being much closer in size to 2010. Again we were able to make 50% whole clusters with this raw material – and at top speed on our triage table too.

We had the same quantity (volume) of grapes today, as yesterday, but we were already finished at 19h15 – such is the difference when triage is not laborious…

I’m trying to think when we last had such low levels of rot – just botrytis, so ignoring the acetic stuff – it’s better than Côte de Beaune 2011, and I think only 2005 was better than that (since 2004). Very impressive!

And my back – well, let’s just say that it’s nice to sit down and type this :-)

mark’s harvest: 16 sept (plus, plus…)

Sacre bleu. The heat. Got in my car in the village to come down to the cuverie for the wi-fi and it was 29 degrees C.

We started pre 7.30 finishing Gevrey 1er Combottes from Monday evening. All that was needed even at that time was a t shirt (honestly) – well, plus the pants etc ! Beautiful sunrise as we worked to finish Combottes – sorry, but had left my camera in the Citroen Jumpy on this occasion. For the camera phobes I’m using a (very new) Canon G16 – auto settings as I’m still trying to figure out how it works, not ideal I guess but gotta start somewhere. On reflection its maybe a bit posh for a vendange (dirty, wet, sticky hands etc) so am having to be very careful how I use it. It has a posh leather look Megagear brown case to protect it from excess but………………………Maybe I should have used daughter Charlotte’s trusted (by me) fetching pink Fuji as that’s more pocketable and has survived 2 or 3 vendanges already. I have it with me c.o.n

From Combottes we moved to Morey 1er Blanchards and commenced down by Morey Clos Solon working our way upslope to the village. I’m sorry if I’m going to be continually repetitive but super quality grapes again. Some bits of rot but compared to past years that’s nothing. Am intrigued how Bill will find things when he gets started. All seem ripe enough, not uncommon for bunches to come off without secateurs – any who want to be last of the late brigade well, errr, I wouldn’t want to be.

From Blanchards back to a biggie – Clos de la Roche. Gosh it was busy along there, loads of domaines vehices jostling the verges – I can’t recall when we’ve all seemed ‘at it’ at once 😉 . Grapes in CdlR – yes, you’ve guessed it. Lots of millerandage as well. Nice !

From CdlR cross village to Chambolle 1er Sentiers, near Morey Ruchots and Roumier’s Clos de la Bussiere (one of my all time favourite wines in any vintage no matter what the critics say). Was tres chaud now, sun broiling down on us. We got half way to the wall below the road and halt called (I didn’t realise at first – not uncommon !) for lunch. One of the beauties of this year, and the very dry ground, is that the twice daily bucket washing ritual is a quick breeze compared to when its muddy and wet as anyone who’s cleaned a load of buckets and/or plastic cases will know !!! Lunch:- no idea what the dodgy looking starter was so I passed – looked like some form ofsmal beans or lentils in an un appetising grey stodge (errr, no). I waited for the hot chicken pieces and mixed veg to appear – yum. Followed by the obligatory cheese then little pots of cream caramel. Coffee followed copious amounts of water for all and white and red wine if desired (Aligote and a fruity PTG – no labels so no idea of annee, haven’t asked yet).

Afternoon back to Sentiers, by the heck it was hot now and most were wearing hats. Dopey draws moi wasn’t but will be tomorrow if its the same. Apres Sentiers a quick hop along to Noirots which was despatched in painstaking if efficient fashion – just too hot to try and go fast. After Sentiers a rest fortunately en camion for the trip to the other side of Nuits-St-Georges and NSG 1er Les Porrets – just under Gouges Clos etc. Looking up at a stone quarry Bill, pics to follow idc. This NSG plot is non domaine and the grapes are bought in, picked by us, via Cyprien’s negoce licence. Then back to Chambolle again (traffic was v heavy both ways) and one of my favourite sites, Chambolle 1er Chatelots. Its not big at all and didn’t take us long to do Arlaud’s few rows but to me as a place it has an air of calm, peace and tranquillity more than some. Early finish treat just before half five and tres welcome as je suis knackered, hot, sweaty, grubby, stiff and the rest. Don’t think I’ve ever drunk so much water in my life in a day as today. Funny moment at Noirots as we finished as we all had a water break. Its poured from a plastic barrel thing like you buy cheap wine in and is refillable. Cups were in short supply so I suggested to Herve (Arlaud – in control of the vessel) that he pour straight into my mouth – I wasn’t proud ! Big mistake as seizing his opportunity Herve poured into my mouth a la water boarding then moved in a flash to pour it over my head to vast hilarity all round leaving me looking like an entrant in a wet t shirt contest – well, not really, am way too old, wrong sex and lacking some things ! I honestly thought I’d lost my contact lenses for a moment or two but all was well and only now have I realised I dried out in a flash without noticing. Now for selectng photos – bit of a job as I daren’t send Bill too many for file size but there’s plenty to choose from ! If folk prefer certain shots e.g scenes, grapes, people or whatever then let me know via response on Bill’s site and I’ll try to oblige.

A bientot. Cuverie clean up goes on noisily outside and in the tank hall – I’m sat out the back using an old bureau and connected to the wi-fi via sticking my laptop power cable (battery is fcuk’d, sorry ‘gone’) into the plug which normally powers the credit card machine ! Until tomorrow !!!

As a precursor to another tale from my Sunday Morey arrival involving Monsieur Jean Raphet, me, and two bottles of Raphet 2000 Clos de Vougeot GC here’s some photos to wet the appetite.

Photos are M Raphet with his bottle (he’s a lovely guy and much happier than he looks), and bottle and my glass (before I emptied it with relish, wow, was it good !).

Odoul-Coquard was another place I popped into on spec Sunday late p.m. having met the highly likeable, tres friendly Sebastian in London in January. I also met here :- Dad, Thierry, and quel surprise, Edith, Herve Arlaud’s girlfriend – quite what Edith was doing there I’m not sure (think she might be office employed). I also ended up intimate friends with the high rise triage table team, balanced as I was precariously on a step ladder looking at the triage (well hardly !) of Chambolle 1er Baudes which they were all happily enthusing over – the grapes did indeed look special with none I saw going in the waste !! Must make a note – Odoul-Coquards 2014 Chambolle Baudes – pls get behind me in an an orderly queue, I’m first ! Also had a peep in the tight, compact, garage style cuverie as Sebastian insisted I say ‘Hallo’ to Patrick who was ensconsed in there doing something precarious (on his own !) tipping a crate of grapes by forklift into a tank (as I’ve seen Arlaud do albeit in more safe looking fashion !!! Patrick’s exercise had a side show of a billowing dry ice type (sulphur ?) stuff at the top of the tank which might have put some amateur heavy metal rock band efforts to shame ! Said my goodbye’s with regrets – they were a great bunch and bar Sebastian briefly in London I’d never met them before – that’s Burgundian folk in my general experience (one Chassagne/St Aubin grower’s office I assume nasty lady last year who shooed me off the threshold post vendange was an exception – won’t be going back there again !) .

O-C Photos ici !

Burgundy Harvest 16 September 2014…

Ouf – What a day!

We made up for a lack of grapes on Monday, by triaging from 09h30-20h45. But there was lunch and 2 coffee breaks included! I officially felt the hottest, ever, during triage this afternoon – or certainly since the last time it was hot anyway…

We started the day with villages Volnay, and what a start! Just like the Volnay Lurets (which I missed) on Sunday, the vibrating table shook out the vast majority of shrivelled-up, dry berries, leaving very little to triage – so much so that about 1/3rd of the way through, the cry was heard from winemaker C, “We’re going whole-cluster!” Two minutes of man(only)-handling the destemmer out-of-the-way and our ‘giraffe’ was now dumping the (whole cluster) grapes directly into the hopper from our triage table. You can see an image below of one cluster of Volnay with rot and one perfect ‘Facebook’ bunch – the last, although also a hand-picked facebook bunch, gives a better idea of the real berry size 😉

Actually, from 3 pallets of grapes, I saw only two clusters of rot! And the Facebook bunches? Well, there weren’t many of those either! Hail or no hail, this was quite-good fruit that needed minimal hand-triage – just don’t mention the yields per hectare!

Before lunch we began a big cuvée of villages Gevrey-Chambertin. We started with the young vines, which were beautiful in 2013 – this year, definitely not! Here was rot, but very stinky rot – acetic. Some of the grape clusters could be smelled before they were cut from the vines – surprisingly laid-back, winemaker C quips “Well, no whole clusters here – but plenty of SO2 seems like a good recipe!” Some of our pallets were a little better, but not massively so. After lunch we got the older vine fruit from this same vineyard – almost none of this smelly rot, smaller berries on nicer clusters too. It was only spoiled by some of the later cases of grapes having bunches with oïdium – which (of-course) I weeded-out! So, acetic-smelly rot and oïdium – both I’ve rarely seen before, but this is only my 11th vintage of triage!

Last of the day was Beaune Les Avaux. Also terribly hailed but these bunches had no rot – like the Volnay – except that the dried berries were hardly dislodged by the vibrating table. We had a lot to do, but we went slowly and did a good job I think.


  • Manual triage in some cases as simple as 2005, but clearly the starting materials optically much less brilliant.
  • The triage table was as sticky in the afternoon, also as in 2005 – but that’s my last reference to 2005!
  • I’ve observed some really beautiful grapes, but even in the same vineyard, it’s usually very heterogeneous – which is a bit like 2013 – but maybe Romanée-Conti was better! 😉
  • That’s enough useless generalisations for today!

I have to say that my back was pretty unstable after that triage marathon – maybe I’d better train (somehow) before vintage 2015. I anyway decided not to forego my two jogging laps of Beaune, time will tell if that was a mistake!

mark’s harvest: 14+15 sept…

Bonjour! Tres fantastic day – wow the weather, phew what a scorcher and the grape quality and quantity ? Maybe the best in quality terms I’ve ever seen at Arlaud and Cyprien’s quietly happy I think.

Arrived 16.00 hrs Sunday so had a quick photo session between the Aralud cuverie and the village accommodation. Got talking firstly to Regis Forey and crew in Morey village and then, later, Pierre Amiot and gang in Gevrey 1er Combottes.

Didnt take any this afternoon as we spent most of it (until 17.00 hrs) in Morey village below the RN 74 where the grapes, in my rows at least were just amazing – 2009 all over again ?

For the record today we did, in order :-
Morey 1er Millandes (just by Odoul-Coquard)
Morey ‘Clos Solon’ – Cyprien has bottled it as Clos Solon since 2012 – I want some !!!
Charmes-Chambertin (the best bit, high up, across the road from Latricieres) – super grapes here as well
Lunch – grated carrot thing starter, nice pieces of pork steaks and pasta, tarte au pomme, fromage selection
Morey Village as above
Gevrey 1er Combottes – started at 17.00 hrs – to finish.


Monday. First 3 pics are just scenes . Next three are grape shots from a plot just up-slope very close to the cemetery wall in Rue Tres Girard:

2012 côte de beaune blanc – drouhin…

I can summarise with ‘yum!’

2012 Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Côte de Beaune (Blanc)
Medium-pale, lemon-yellow. High-toned but with an undertow of fresh but ripe fruit – enticing! Full in the mouth, quite broad but with both freshness and an interesting density – a performance that easily surpasses the label. Excellent stuff with a nicely mouth-watering finish.
Rebuy – Yes

Burgundy Harvest 15 September 2014…

A perfect pic by Caroline l’Estimé of Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard: Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Caillerets today.

Typically, for my first day ‘on the job,’ today there are no grapes at the home domaine!

They started with Volnay Lurets yesterday, harvested under the same benign 22°C and sunshine as we’ve enjoyed for about a week – the weather is set fair for the rest of this week too. One thing I’ve noticed today, though, is a strong acetic waft and lots of small fruit flies when you pass many open (producer) doors. Chilled delivery vans are worth their weight in gold this vintage!

Whilst yields are miserly, I’ve heard nothing but good news from those that have harvested their hailed vineyards – the vibrating tables seem to be taking away all that is dried out, and in the few vineyards in Beaune and Volnay already harvested, there is no rot to worry about – the hail made sure of that – so triage has been very simple. Triage has been harder in Meursault (for those that didn’t machine pick!) with as much as 40% of the crop rejected, but the grapes that remain are delivering smiles all-round.

Finally, for avid students of the vintage, the harvest newsletters of Domaine de la Vougeraie are now online, here.

harvest 2014 – wednesday 10th sept…

The last bottles in Switzerland with Team NZ; who are now safely awaiting the first grapes in Beaune.

I made a bit of a booboo on Wednesday afternoon.

I took some really brilliant pictures of the few harvesters who were busying themselves, mainly around Meursault – so much-so that I couldn’t wait to review them – OOPS – the SD card from my camera was still in my laptop. No pics! Dumb, dumb, dumb…

I snapped a few with my phone afterwards, but…

Anyway… Virtually nobody in Volnay and Pommard on Wednesday afternoon – actually one lot in each. Meursault seemed the main focus, though that was also eerily free of white vans. Lafon and Roulot had been in the vines – Meursault Perrières, mainly. Also, of the half-dozen teams who were harvesting, were two harvesting machines, and both were in the 1er Crus! There are producers who, faced with not so brilliant grapes (don’t forget that Meursault was also hailed), would rather harvest by machine than pay for pickers. Although white grapes tolerate machine much better than reds, this might suggest larger quality gaps then usual between the best producers and the others…

Yesterday (Thursday) there were more people in the vines but not massively more than the day before. Temperatures were 4-5°C cooler, but still dry and sunny with about 22° in the afternoon. I left Burgundy in the afternoon, but will be back for triage, first thing on Monday morning. Daily reports will, of-course, follow.

the contenders start their harvests…

Almost, but not quite, the last of the bottles drunk with Team NZ in Switzerland.

Jasper has a few of the starters:

Amongst others, also starting Wednesday (today!) is Jean-Marc Roulot and Vougeraie in their white grand crus.
Thursday there’s Domaine des Croix and Dubreuil-Fontaine
Friday it’s JF Fichet, Benjamin Leroux (whites) + + +
Domaine Dublère and Camille Giroud start at the weekend and Bonneau du Martray next week, as do the first of the Côte de Nuits – but some of those Côte de Nuits domaines have no plans to start before the 20th.

There’s been a little rain yesterday and overnight, but the sun is out this afternoon – let’s hope there’s nothing to cajoule the botrytis into action!

getting ready for the harvest blastoff….

A few more from the weekend…

The outriders this week will be the Mâconnais – they will will probably be first in the vines. Later this week, probably from Wednesday onwards, the first of the Côte de Beaune whites will be harvested, though a significant proportion of that will also wait for the weekend or even Monday. Reds will really start from Monday onwards, for 10 days, or even more. Chablis will also largely harvest between 15-20th September – so it looks like I’ll be too busing in Beaune to pay them a visit…

The weather changed last week in the Côtes; July and August were cool and often wet, but almost always with a steady (cold feeling!) breeze – this wind has been reason we’ve seen no rot, only an occasional bout of oïdium in the whites. Last week the breeze stopped and the sun shone – Friday was a perfect 28°C day and so was the weekend that followed. The threat of botrytis still lies within every bunch – but only of we suddenly get rain together with high temperatures. We are currently set fair for the next week, though with temperatures more modestly around 22°C. It looks like we should do well – though triage will be taxing for the hail-hit vines…

I’ll be making daily harvest reports from Monday 15th, here – naturally 😉

Last Friday in the Côtes:


A common business finance route – though rather rarer for wine producers…

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