Why Big Red Diary?

icymi – recent reading…

A few things I’ve read in the last days:

marko’s burgundy vendange day two

Arlaud Vendange Day Two (officially Day One !) – Tues, 4th Sept 2018

Morning of what would have been the official start (well, suppose it was) commenced for me at c6.00 a.m, albeit carefully with use of the room light etc as my room companion showed no signs of rising ! Despite having been awake c24 hours getting to Morey, and was I glad I arrived ‘early’ so as not to miss the 3rd’s not inconsequential activities, I’d not been away with the fairies as might have been expected. The small, new-looking bed, and its mattress, which I’ve got are far from comfortable. The bed/mattress seems to be longitudinally two sided, with a slope on one – might have to try unmaking the bed & turning the mattress over ! The mattress also seems to want to work away from the wall/off the bed frame as I toss & turn to try & sleep – I can see myself being deposited on top of my phone and drinks bottle on the floor adjacent to the bed. I’d set my alarm but didn’t need it. Usual mini breakfast for me of chocolate & nuts breakfast bar brought with me, and de rigeur black coffee preceded the dribs & drabs arrivals of the full compliment of vendange team – a motley crew, but with many of the faces I’ve come to know well over the years, but with quite a number of new faces, young & older. I sympathised inwardly to furrowed brow Herve Arlaud with all the attendant paper work he had to deal with per person – clearly not something he seems to relish, despite all his experience & doubtless skills at dealing with. Such was the weight of the task Beatrice from the cuverie office – a most unusual sight at that time of the day – was also on hand to assist Herve.

Eventually we seemed to have the full compliment and off we went before 7.30, now all the vehicles very fully utilised, the last few folk without a seat scurrying worriedly between vehicles to find a place – usual backstop being a less favoured place in one of the double cab flatbed trucks. First location, and as usual we seemed to be the first active domaine alone in the vines, was a return to the Chambolle Village terroir we’d started the day before. Have to confess I wasn’t finding this particularly ‘exciting’. Nothing wrong with the grapes, quite the contrary, and the vines were pendulously heavy with bunches, but the rows were long and the weather got very warm & sunny very quickly – recall I dispensed with my thinnish jumper over a t shirt within half an hour. I like to differ after 9 years experience from many of the locals, particularly youngsters, all of whom wear relatively normal leisure type clothes & footwear, whereas I now routinely have a garb of old t-shirt (plus jumper or fleece if required), ex Army trousers, with the latter covered by waterproof over trousers (to deal with the muck & sticky grape juice, to say nothing of bucket washing, all of which might otherwise require new, clean, pants every day). Footwear wise in the past I’ve switched during a harvest between old trainers/approach shoes, wellington boots, and/or walking boots. However, I’ve no older trainers or walking boots for this year I want to destroy so am full time wearing British Hunter Wellington Boots (navy not green) despite not being a huntin’, shootin’, fishing type nor music festival goer. Other brands of wellington boots are available and no animals have been hurt or mistreated for my vendange that I’m aware of !!! That’s not to say human beings don’t suffer during the harvest i.e the vendangeurs ! The Chambolle Village took us all morning, one way or another, but did include a mid-morning vehicle mounted switch of the two terroirs Arlaud have in this respect. Before moving though, c9.30 saw another, for me, ‘stunning’ development chez Arlaud I never thought I’d see. With the domaine having ‘weakened’ & moved with the times (from 2014 inclusive ?) to a morning coffee/water break & short rest, this particular morning saw a seismic event with the advent for us of casse croute and/or biscuits. The former was a large chunk of baguette with a choice of charcuterie or fromage (cheese) filling. So far I’ve only sampled the fromage version as by the time I’ve got to the Herve presided over picnic table my greedy so and so colleagues have grabbed all the charcuterie versions. I’m working on tactics to get my choice, not least as a limited number of thickly cut (‘doorstep’ in the UK) superior looking brown bread sandwiches with both cream cheese and charcuterie made their appearance on the 6th (but I’m getting ahead of myself !). I’m still almost in shock at now benefitting from rest break, coffee and casse croute only a few years after any suggestion of only one of those might have been met by Herve’s utter disdain/contempt – the times they are a changing (or have changed) according to bard Bob D.

Switching Chambolle Village sites led, just after vehicle disembarkation, to Herve & J-P Feral, the latter my Sprinter front van seat companion, entering into an animated mid-road conversation with the driver of a passing black Range Rover Evoque – a superior British vehicle ! Curious, I moved a little to see the driver was David Duband of his own eponymous domaine, as well as being the winemaker at Nuit St Geoges’ Maison Louis Max, were I’d met him last November. I was not surprised at the Herve/J-P F/Duband conversation as DD is a cousin of the Arlauds and a resident of the Hautes-Cotes as is J-P F. Conversation concluded with my joining in to compliment DD on his choice of British car (he laughed) and responded with ‘Courage’ in respect of our vendange work before setting his sporty shades & moving off.

And so to lunch, by now, with the massed influx of new bodies, a bit more of a ‘bun fight’, particularly if one was a late comer having sacrificed one’s self for the cause by, without being asked, bucket & secateurs washing. Here a big shout out to the two (one male, one female) Japanese (not the two young ladies from 2017) who dived in to help Cedric & myself with the washing task. The lunch starter was a tomato and small round cheese ‘salad’ which looked ok & certainly for me preferable, as a substitute main course, to the actual main which was a most unappealing looking, big, fat sausage & baked beans – err No, so I chose to pass on the latter !

After lunch a most welcome alternative to the Chambolle Village (I hope an afternoon and a morning has seen that off but am not sure) was a very short trip, almost just around the corner as it were, to Clos de la Roche. The fruit here was pretty stunning in its quality and volume (the latter not excessive) with usual millerandage berries on certain vines. I had a bit of an unwitting camera moment here, thinking I’d taken some vine & fruit shots on the way up the plot – and whilst I had, only when I downloaded them did I realise they were frustratingly light spoilt, over-exposed. Only that evening did I belatedly realise the settings wheels on top of my impressively robust, now ageing, Canon G16 had been ‘caught’ and moved off ‘Auto’. To try and take any photos is tricky in the extremis whilst working and gloved up with sticky, wet, dirty gloves and/or hands – to say nothing of having the camera sheathed in an all embracing protective cover. Taking time out for snapping photos also runs the risk of one dropping behind one’s fellow workers who might have to bail you out later if you are lagging in your row so its all a bit tricky. My method for grabbing a few photos, whilst cutting & minimising time loss, is to take the leather cover off the camera before starting a plot and slinging the camera around my neck/across the chest, moving to sit on/against my back, until needed. This, so far, keeps the camera mostly out of harm’s way and readily available for quick, grabbed use. On this occasion, the first time in a few years, such has occurred, the settings had been affected as above either by me or perhaps being caught by passing individual or vine. Its totally impractical for me to use some manual settings & am content at my level of photography non skill, given also the circumstances, to use ‘Auto’ settings – subject to no issues with the latter ! Anyway, I grabbed photos before we departed CdlR of another domaine’s grapes and a shot of one of Arlaud’s very old looking vines. Apologies if you’d like to have seen more (CdlR photos). Getting to a grassy sward at the top of Arlaud’s rows was most welcome, as boy was it hot & humid, for a water break & short rest before descending. I wonder how much that grassy area is worth if planted !

Moving on from CdlR didn’t take us to what might have been the logical Clos St Denis but across village to the second Chambolle 1er cru after Chatelots, namely Noirots. I always think the Arlaud Chambolle 1ers are maybe a bit neglected in buyer desire/importance, certainly I’ve tended to mostly ignore them (although do have a few), with focus more maybe on Gevrey Combottes and the 4 x Morey 1ers – but maybe I’m wrong ? Certainly the likes of Noirots & Sentiers are maybe not amongst the more ‘excitingly’ named/reputation Chambolle crus ? I can remember little of our tackling Noirots and did not feel compelled to take photos but this all could be because all was ‘routine’ and our numbers against the plot side saw us ‘do the job’ quickly to move on to, yay, the always for me thrilling prospect of Bonnes-Mares. Despite being a Morey domaine Arlaud’s vines are more over to the Chambolle side. My approach, arriving at B-M, and aware we’ve always been ‘split’ into two picking groups here, has been to request (‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get !) / make sure I’m in the party that goes to the top and picks downwards. Whilst initially looking innocuous, its quite a climb cum slog to the top of the B-M plot, with the slope angle ramping up in the last yards. A brief rest always ensues before the downward picking as even the most fit are short of breath. I was a bit fortunate in getting into the top starting group as, despite agreeing beforehand with Climent (Herve’s deputy) that I would go to the top, Herve initially directed me to the far right hand row borrow. I politely remonstrated & whilst he waved me upwards he didn’t look best pleased – oops. The soil differences in B-M are quite something. Very thin, light grey/whitish at the top were, unsurprisingly, the vines carry much less fruit than their counterparts downslope. The biggest issue actioning B-M was the distance between the trucks on the road and further up the plot which saw the porteurs struggle to ‘service’ the coupers and their buckets. This led to empty cases being deposited on the ground between rows to enable one to empty one’s bucket and move on without undue delay. On the subject of porteurs this year we seem to have a much superior, and sympathetic to the coupers, bunch of guys. They seem as efficient as possible & a few of them are pretty quick movers. A welcome development as inconsiderate, bone idle, porteurs have, in past years, been the bane of the lives of myself and others. I’ve never found it less than an uplifting joy to ‘do’ B-M with this year no exception. Coming at the end of the day when uber tired one’s fatigue seems less so in B-M. And so we exited inevitable the milling throng spilling into the road around the vehicles. A patient vineyard tractor driver with trailer waited patiently on the Morey side to get through us towards Chambolle. I appealed to my colleagues to make space for the smiling driver whom I waved to come through and only as he passed did I realise this was Christophe Roumier. I’ve seen him before at vendange time on a tractor – he seems a guy self effacingly at home with his machinery .

Return to base, bucket washing etc, clean up of one’s self and gear, shower then restorative beers at the Arlaud pub saw the day move to a close with evening meal & so to bed.
Marko de Morey 6th & 7th Sept 2018.

the return of the marko…

Day 1 – 6am…

Arlaud Vendange Day One – Mon, 3rd Sept 2018

Actually should have been a post travelling, prelude, day of rest BUT, atypically Arlaud, was a full on day from the outset – read on !

For this, my 9th Arlaud (11th vendange en totale, including my first 2006 Duc de Magenta, Chassagne formative experience & delightful 2009 side track to Dubreuil-Fontaine’s Pernand) I guess the true start is leaving my NW England home for the c670 mile drive, initially to Dover for le bateau sur la Manche, then onwards from Calais to sleepy Morey-St-Denis. Bitter experience of the UK motorway network has taught me night time driving is absolutely the only way to go for sanity, speed etc (allowing for the odd night time partial section of motorway closure) and in recent times I’m indebted to my good friend Dr David Strange for introducing me to the strongest expresso for keeping me in the wide awake club (no other yuk energy drinks here) & fatigue at bay – at least initially. Weather to France was very good, the ferry disembarking me 10 mins early at 9.00 a.m. French time – a good start. Two break stops later at those quieter French autoroute Aires saw me drift into Morey Centre at approx. 15.30. Only downside to the travelling the hot sun beaming on to my side of the car with attendant temperatures. I only occasionally used the aircon to keep at bay, not desirous of hitting the fuel consumption too hard with full on aircon. Temp coming off the ferry was 12 centigrade but had risen to 23 by Morey with blue sky and bits of white cloud. I came to Morey latterly via Gevrey-Chambertin and the Route des Grand Crus. Very little activity indeed noted dans les vignes , in fact almost none, until I came to a vendange team at the Clos de la Roche road side almost into Morey. This was Eric Rousseau’s team. I stopped for a chat. He advised they’d started the day before (Saturday, the 2nd) and he was very happy with the picking results to date i.e grape quality & volume.

So to Morey and the Arlaud property yard. No surprise to see the hired minibuses & vans quietly ready & waiting but did seem more than normal – 2 x ageing, better days, Mercedes Sprinters plus a nearly new looking Renault Traffic and similarly a VW Caravelle TDI. Plus the usual 2 x flat bed double cab trucks for hauling cases to the cuverie. The other notable eye catcher was an amazing ‘structure’ of several washing sinks, all with taps, sat in a heavy weight wooden frame, the whole hooked up to the outside tap we usually see a hose attached to for bucket washing – all would be revealed to the purpose ! Into the refectoire, my/the team’s annual vendange eating, meeting, resting place. Greeting me smilingly two generations of famille Arlaud, pere Herve and Cyprien. After usual pleasantries Cyprien explained there would be c47 vendangeurs, with up to 17 staying en residence – not seen the latter before at that number. He went further, saying his strategy was to complete the harvest as quickly as possible, blitzing it in a few days with lots of folk – hum !!! The outside sink washing set up was aimed at keeping your mucky local harvest workforce from the always less than salubrious permanent washing arrangements (they would be banned from other than the toilets) which would be reserved for us staying over sleepers.

The other quite incredible ‘thing’ in the covered entry to, the itself totally smartened up & reorganised, refectory & which took some taking in was an upright large relatively new looking barrel surrounded by several high back bar style chairs. Across the way against the wall on a table was a beer dispensing pump thing connected to one of several metal barriers on the floor – in essence a fully set ‘pub’/bar d’Arlaud for the post work thirsty vendangeurs. This, whilst a very nice, thoughtful touch – to become well tested by all, including your writer, gobsmacked me in some respects as this is a domaine where, only in the last 2/3 years have we been getting morning coffee and afternoon water breaks (honestly !). Thus to now have the bar/pub was an eye opener in more ways than one. A slightly amusing postscript to this came a few days later when Cyprien smilingly asked me what I thought of the bar. I indicated solid approval but asked if he’d undertaken careful selection of the chosen beer (some kind of lager type)i.e had a beer tasting. He grinned, replying he liked the first one – so chose that. Works for me !

The beer facility did see the end of the post daily vendange historic drinks of wine, white or red, and cassis. In fact, several days in hereafter I have yet to see any vin blanc (aligoté) at lunch or evening meal times. Makes me wonder what has become of the blanc – an absence of the frosted 2016 would be understandable but not the 2017. I’ll ask !
So, I was introduced to my normal, in the past just for myself room, and asked to select a bed from 3 in the front chamber and 4 behind. I went for the corner one in the front with attendant fire place and unused ex-army camp bed adjacent to I could spread myself out with my gear. For now, I was alone but before the day was out would be joined by two guys from Belfort who chose the back chamber of ‘our’ rooms and affable Remy who joined me.

Oh, I’ve forgotten to mention that I’d been advised on arrival we would actually start on the vines the following day notwithstanding all previous advices had been commencement Tues, 4th Sept – NOT the 3rd. We would however be a limited crew of between 15-20.

I did not linger for the evening, having a Beaune evening invitation for wine & pizza so, arming myself with gate keys to get back in, I headed for a very touristy busy Beaune for a pleasant interlude before return to a much needed bed/sleep having been ‘up’ for c 24 hours.

The morning of Monday, 3rd Sept dawned relatively warm & dry. M Raphet’s vegetable patch next door from the Arlaud yard was immaculate as ever as the sun came up. I looked forward to seeing the super gardener, retired, ageing vigneron himself in the coming days. We assembled in limited numbers, good to see many ‘old’, familiar faces who, as ever, greeted me warmly. Some new faces including two new to me this year Japanese, one male, one female, both quickly endearing themselves to me not just as pleasant individuals but needing no ‘encouragement’ to proactively join myself & domaine worker, Cedric, at lunchtime & evening buckets and secateurs cleaning. So, after Cyprien turning up, and calling a bottom of yard ‘team’ meeting (not seen that like before !) for the domaine people & some of the local vendangeurs, rest of us excluded (not worthy obviously 😊), we embarked in two of the vans and with one of the lorries headed for the flatlands just south of the village, railway side, but not ‘that’ far from the road. Here we worked two plots of what I initially took to be aligoté but actually was chardonnay – and nice looking decent quality chard at that. I like picking white grapes but its tricky as smaller bunches can be easily missed with suitable leaf stripping pre cutting a must. I was intrigued by this Chard as I’ve never seen it commercialised in my now nine years at the domaine, the only Chard I’m happily familiar with, as grapes or wine, being the past much enjoyed Hautes-Cotes Chardonnay from a site near Arcenant we would no doubt get to in time. I subsequently asked Cyprien about this flatlands Chard, thinking it might go for Cremant but instead he told me it has been kept for family purposes or sometimes sold in bulk.

We moved on from the Chard plots to what was described to me as jeune vignes Gevrey 1er Combottes. This was a head scratcher initially as I knew full well Combottes has the oldest vines of the domaine. I queried with Cyp if they had been doing some particular replanting, not bargaining for his reply:- “No (to the replanting – which is vine by vine as required), but ‘young vines’ covers those up to 25 years old” ! Whatever!

To take us up to lunch we ‘did’ Chambolle 1er Chatelots, one of my favourites, a small hollowed site, suitable for our reduced numbers – in fact we were over endowed with consequent rapid completion of task as normally the likes of Chatelots & Echezeaux are usually tackled by a small, hand picked, break away group (as last year). Not that many rows here & nothing to report other than the grapes looked very good & bunches pretty clean. I was noting how dry everywhere was, doubtless reflecting a similar, maybe warmer, summer than we’d had in the UK. But, whilst the likes of roadside verges, fields etc in the UK have reverted to green such is not the case here, quite the contrary. The vineyard soil was very dry indeed, feet movements to note kicking up dust. No ‘give’ in the ground for/when dropping to one’s knees for the trickier bunches.

As we took the Route des Grand Crus back to Morey almost immediately out of Chambolle we passed a BMW 1 series leading several vans/minibuses etc out of some Chambolle vines. I noted the driver as lovely lady Ghislaine Barthod hence assumed her team might be exiting Veroilles or similar. Oh, sorry, the Chatelots grapes were good. Not massive volume but never is from here for me but what there was looked super ‘clean’, no signs of issues with grapes in my row – easy triage I was thinking – when the hollowed nature of Arlaud’s Chatelots can see problems i.e totally frosted in 2016.
So, to c12.00 lunch and pre-eating the chore of secateurs and bucket cleaning for the committed few, amazing how the other vendangeurs ‘disappear’, can’t recall now what we eat but is always mostly good, although sometimes I might skip the starter or a main if a certain course doesn’t appeal. I did notice for this year that the cheese course has ‘disappeared’, the dessert is ‘just’ fruit, and red wine only – shame 😉.

At the usual post lunch/rest break 13.15 we go again and a nice one – Echezeaux. Only a few rows here but quite long. Without a doubt, for me the best grapes I’ve seen from here, Arlaud looking after the vines from 2013 inclusive and the result a fairly unequivocal advertisement for the biodynamique approach. But, boy was it hot here, to become a theme for me on an ongoing unpleasant daily basis. I’ve worked hot vendanges before, 2015 springs to mind, but I never recalled ‘perspiring’ so freely (dripping like a wet dog at times) as I’m doing this year. Maybe it is humidity, or maybe I’m going through some sort of change (lol), or maybe its some medication I’m on for PMR (promyalgia rheumatica) which started for me Dec 2107. As a non Morey GC Echezeaux is always notably interesting for me. Another domaine was working close by but not close enough to work out who it was. There was plenty of activity in Vougeot and Grands Echezeaux but none that I noted in Musigny or Amoureuses.

After Ech we cruised back to Morey and a first ‘go’ at Charmes-Chambertin, the older vines below a replanted section of Latricieres (Leroy’s ?) . The grape quality and volume here reflected the old vine nature, but again as good as seen in better years. I took one particular photo amongst a few (we’ll see if Bill publishes as he normally limits my inputs to 9 – fair enough) which is a close up of a bunch which suggests a yellow dot in the centre of the grapes. Cyprien was much taken by this photo particularly & I will send to him.
The afternoon/day concluded with something of a slog amongst Chambolle Village vines. Again solid quality/quantity, quite a bit of annoying leaf growth to circumvent. A finish of quiet satisfaction, albeit utter fatigue and being very hot ! The new Arlaud pub came into its own immediatemont, some initial delicious reviving pours being dispatched quickly. So to a shower, texts to home, evening meal all ahead of the official start morning on the 4th with influx of many more vendangeuers.
Marko de Morey (completed 6/9/2018).

2018 harvest – thursday 6 sept in chablis & irancy

Chablis Les Clos – on the triage table.

A day in Chablis – no rest for the wicked!

But first to Irancy – unlike the morning rain in Beaune, here was cloudy, indeed a little misty, but dry. The grapes looked resplendent – and the quantity too – they won’t make up for the lack of grapes in 2016 and 2017, but they will warm the hearts of the the vigneron(ne)s!

Onward to Chablis, I dropped into Long-Depaquit who had begun their harvest on Tuesday – they are one of the earlier harvesters but by no means the earliest – I heard Laroche were one of the first in some parcels. I was met not just by Cécilia Trimaille (who’s following on from Matthieu Mangenot) but also by the most beautiful looking Les Clos grapes – not a bad first impression!

Cécilia explained that one or two sectors had lacked a little water, so are later ripening, but the magic of the grands and 1er crus meant no such problem there. Long-Depaquit are harvesting 65 hectares by hand, normally this should take about 10 days or so with a team of about 50 in the vines. I noted that the grapes are delivered in quite small cases which each contain 10-12 kg of fruit, this year requiring only a simply triage to remove leaves before being pressed – there are a row of presses here holding up to 5 tonnes of fruit. This year each press runs for about 2 hours 20 minutes, with a slowly increasing pressure – apparently the extractions quite easy this year. The juice then spends one night in tank at 13°C to settle, they then analyse, allowing the start of the ferments in tank before dropping the juice into barrel – “It’s easier this way, keeping the juice at 18° before dropping into the barrels.” Vaudésir would be their first wine in barrel later today – all the barrels in the cellar are 1-3 years old. It’s not a large cellar as not many wines see oak, and the most oaked wines still only see 25% barrel…

Before heading home I toured the grand crus and then revisited Irancy with Laurent Ternynck of Domaine de Mauperthuis to check out his beautiful césar in Palotte – planted in 1933 – so over 80 years-old. Over 60% of their vines in Palotte are césar which is very inconvenient as since 2000, a maximum of 10% is allowed in the wine – at least if it to be called Irancy! This year the grapes looked fabulous – they will be harvested a ‘bonne semaine‘ after the pinot – so read 8-10 days into that. As I got back to Beaune I was met with relatively heavy rain – unlike dry Chablis – but by 6pm it was over…

2018 harvest – 5 september

Our harvest day number 9 – the last…

It’s over…

Chorey blank to start our last day; I see a couple of chunks of rot in the delivery bins but on the triage table it’s more like discrete berries here and there that are already detached from the clusters – again great stuff, but with the obligatory road-block as we wait for space in the press.

We finish the day – yes we are done at 2pm! – with more Beaune Montée Rouge, and it’s more homogenous than the first delivery (yesterday) much rarer are the under-ripe bunches to remove – done! Well, sort of – there remains Pommard Vaumauriens – but it won’t be ready for the best part of a week so will be attacked by the family one weekend.

2005 Capitain-Gagnerot, Corton-Renardes
Ardea sealed – one of the early adopters!
Ooh directly a great nose, and with plenty of development too, it makes me think of really good Cote de Nuits. In the mouth the shape, weight, and still plenty of tannin makes me think much more in the direction of Santenots – it turns out to be in the middle! The palate is young the nose more giving, but a super wine!

Chance for a run to Meursault and back in the late afternoon as preparation(!) for our evening Paulée 🙂

2018 harvest – 4 september

Our harvest day number 8…

Pernand Sous Fretille was our starting point today – two parcels amounting to half a hectare; ‘young’ 25 year old vines, the other part about 70 years old near the cemetery and Domaine Rapet…
Of-course a morning of white included the obligatory enforced pause for the press! Anyway, beautiful stuff – practically as good as yesterday’s grapes from Corton-Charlemagne.

Naturally, waiting time in the morning means fast running in the afternoon to keep up – we had our last deliveries of Les Bons Feuvres followed by more Beaune – Montée Rouge this time. Here for the first time there is some rot to triage – apparently, though I didn’t see any, there were a few hail impacts here which helped the development of mildew. No problem, it was classic mid-bunch rot – two incisions, keep the top and tail, throw away the middle…

2018 harvest – 3 september

Our harvest day number 7…

What a way to start our day – Corton-Charlemagne – from a super plot of 0.35 ha, on the hill in the real Charlemagne sector. Acquired by the owners on 1993. A pleasure to watch on the triage table – some beurot in this (pinot gris) and just a few leaves and grilled berries to remove. It looked great…

Did I mention that there was a little more Chorey rouge? Well there was, but we finished it before lunch – at last! Though there’s still a little (relatively rare) white to come.

Lunch: 1978 Bouchard Père, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Pucelles
With the slightest touch, the cork disappears into the bottle – oops! So decanted!
A deep golden colour. The nose (fortunately) is clean, deep and round – and it keeps getting better with air too – always the best sign! Volume, depth of texture, long, slow-moving waves of off-sweet mineral flavour – excellent – a great bottle, and so robust!

Villages Beaune, Les Bons Feuvres comes in after lunch. There is a little under-ripe to triage, but only that. Interestingly the stems were much riper than than most – some were almost red. We will be staying with this tomorrow too as it’s quite a large parcel – approaching one hectare. The finish-line is in sight for us now though, we should be finished sometime on Wednesday! The domaine’s Pommard Vaumauriens, having been hailed twice, will need another couple of weeks as it’s a long way from ripeness…

The have been a couple of questions for recent posts that I’ll address here :

  • Acidity in whites: Is relatively modest – this vintage was never going to be like 2014 – but the amount of tartaric is relatively high, so pHs won’t reduce much during malolactic fermentations, as the sun burnt off much of the malic acidity.
  • Yields: I will restrict my comments to Côte de Beaune for now, and to those vines that were not hit by hail – the yields are very good, and below the limits for the appellations – but not very far below. Growers are very happy to have both volume and quality. Hail damage will have caused very wide discrepancies – some parts of southern Nuits have lost most of their fruit – it’s too early to say how much. Likewise it’s too early to gauge HOW well endowed some of the those Côte de Nuits vines were…

And outside of the Côte d’Or?
It’s one of those years where everything is happening at the same time – usually Beaujolais starts before Beaune, Chablis is a bit more variable – but Beaujolais is now well underway – only the early pickers were out last week. Chablis is a little later this year – Long-Depaquit started their harvest today, and assuming that they are not already finished, I hope I’ll be allowed in to take some pics on Thursday!

2018 harvest – 2 september

Our harvest day number 6…

With visitors for the weekend, I managed to cajoule a half-day holiday from the domaine on Sunday, returning after lunch for more Chorey rouge – well the domaine does have more than 2 hectares! Nothing more/additional to report there. But I have a few photos…

Walking around Beaune on Sunday morning we happened upon the team of Le Grappin (right) – dancing around their triage table – unsurprising given how good their Santenay 1er cru grapes looked!

Before attacking a couple of 1998 Musigny(!) with Marko de Morey in the evening – who was to start his Morey St.Denis harvest the next day – I managed to jog my way through Pommard and Volnay, and back to Beaune. For the second time in the last few days the vendangeurs of Bitouzet-Prieur and Pierrick Bouley were letting their hair down for the evening – the smile on Pierrick’s face was enough to profess contentment with volume and quality, whereas Francois Bitouzet was much more concerned that I ought to be running faster!

2018 harvest – 1 september

Pernand Le Pin – being pressed.

Our harvest day number 5…

Green and gold:
That’s how the triage table began this morning – villages Pernand – from relatively high up. At certain times the grapes on the table had me thinking of David Beckham – or rather his nickname – golden balls…

In recent times, relatively often have been the vintages where some proprietors claim that the grapes were so good that triage wasn’t necessary – of-course we who trie know better! But, this year, save for the extraction of leaves, and of-course not for vineyards touched by hail, I see a case for describing our 2018 triage as superfluous. There is a certain piece of mind that comes with triage, even this year, but for a number of vines, so little have we removed that I don’t expect a material difference to the wines.

Exceptional is a descriptor that has become overused to the extent that everything is now exceptional – like 93-95 point villages wines – but I can easily say that every other vintage that I’ve triaged since 2004 has not been like this one! Of-course the amount that you have to throw away is not the whole story, even the analytics are only the framework of the wines to, they don’t tell you about their texture, manner of delivery of flavour, or the wines’ complexity even if they may hint at the character – for that we will taste in another 12 months…

The rest of our day was Chorey-lès-Beaune rouge – the domaine has over 2 hectares – so it will be most of tomorrow too! The first deliveries needed a more ‘classical’ triage – much more unripe and a suggestion of rot here and there – this part of the vineyard is shaded by trees and is always wet – every year it’s problematic. Subsequent deliveries were more in the vernacular that has been set by other vineyards – still some rare bunches with rot, but virtually no unripe fruit. Apparently the soils are ‘worked’ here – but timing is everything! There is so much clay in the soil that the vineyards are impossible to enter when it’s very wet, or ploughing is ineffective when it’s very dry as the clay becomes concrete-like!

As noted yesterday, many, many more people were picking today as it was the 1st of September – a few images below of pickers in Beaune vines…

2008 Maison Saint-Nicolas, Volnay 1er Taillepieds
I don’t know this label – an hommage to Nicolas Potel maybe(?) He’d already left the Maison of his own name at this time…
Modest colour. Really a good nose of depth, complexity and flowers – not so wide. Fresh but with weight and width. A young palate but still a moreish wine. Tasty…

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