This was yet another varied and interesting day in more ways than one !
In football (soccer) parlance this might be suitably described as a game (or day) of two halves (parts) ! Let’s get into it.
I was up earlier than usual, not sure how I dragged myself out of bed at circa 5.00 a.m., as I was silly keen to have a little time to work on ‘Bill Stuff’. Intent on heading for the domaine cuverie end of our dining cave/cellar to use the wi-fi pre breakfast instead I was thrown off my stride by early morning rain starting to come down. As I’d not dressed for such eventuality I had to return to my bedroom (Chef Jean-Michel sleeping soundly, bless him, a thoroughly nice man) and put on my wet weather gear over my ‘normal’ clothes and change my footwear.
Our a.m destination was a return to the same spot we’d been in yesterday i.e the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Fontaine St Martin Monopole of the domaine. Here, a quick recap to an aspect of yesterday I’d forgotten, but have been reminded of from Bill’s adding my Day 6 words & photos, namely the featuring once again of the unpleasant clouds of flying ants I’d last seen in NSG Les Chailots (see previous words re Day xx). One can make out the insects quite easily on yesterday’s photos – those photos of our arrival in Fontaine St Martin. If anything the clouds of insects were denser than the first occasion – quite nasty ! Fortunately, they only seemed to be in, or above, the open spaces hence once we were working in the rows of vines there was no bothersome issue. Quite weird to have this experience – never seen similar before in any of my previous (13) vendanges.
Back to today – once again Chardonnay, in humungous quantities of grapes, was the order of the day. We were lower, in level within the vineyard, row terms than yesterday. The morning remained, for the most part, as early in Vosne, largely grey, claggy, with heavy low cloud, and some intermittent light drizzle (not enough to interrupt us). Typically (!) it started to brighten up as the morning came to a conclusion. I was, again, ‘taken’ with sight of a Kestrel hovering low over the vines between NSG & Vosne as we returned.
Somewhat to my initially disbelieving surprise our day was done at lunch. Reason ? The evening was to feature our vendange Paulee – not a Paulee in the sense of the famed Meursault one, but more a celebration of the harvest with good food, better than usual wines, speeches, presentations et al. But why the Paulee mid-way through the harvest – we’d only just started on the domaine’s important Hautes-Cotes vines areas (to ultimately last more than a week) ? I never actually asked why but am pretty sure the reason was the imminent, sizeable, changeover in workers. A goodly number of folk were to leave on Sunday and be replaced at the beginning of the following week by new people who arrived in dribs and drabs as the second week progressed. The team which ended the harvest was quite different in make up from the one that started. Additionally, to me it seemed many of those who left after the first week were longstanding regulars, and many the more mature/older individuals. Seemingly they came only for the Cote D’Or work, or maybe they could only spare a week from their regular employments (or a bit of both). I could only interpret the above was the reason for the mid harvest nature of the evening’s Paulee to come.
Ahead of the evening’s entertainment I had the afternoon free. It was interesting how, after lunch, most folk drifted away before returning later. The afternoon was sunny in marked contrast to our morning. Initially I took the opportunity to drive to the NSG Intermarche supermarket for some beers, partly as I fancied some for the coming week and also as I’d been offered a beer or two pre dinner in the week just passed & wanted to be able to reciprocate. Naturally, I took the opportunity to have a look at the wine selection in the store, the Burgundy elements anyway, and picked up a sole bottle of a Vincent Prunier 2019 Auxey-Duresses Blanc to go with my beers. Once back in Vosne I spent the remainder of the afternoon working on my laptop (photos) whilst continuing to enjoy the internet via the wi-fi, following the UK Premier League soccer on the BBC Sport website – ultimately much cheered by The Mighty Reds (Liverpool FC) going top of the table.
As the afternoon moved into evening, I gave myself plenty of time to get spruced up and changed into smarter clothes for the evening to come. I’m always much taken at any vendange Paulee how different my work colleagues can look when they arrive smartly dressed for an evening and I wasn’t to be disappointed here by a particularly notable display from a few of the senior ladies. Before addressing matters sartorial I should outline that the initial part of the evening, the Paulee drinks reception as it were, once we’d all assembled in the yard area, was to take place in the smartened, tidied, and cleared for the purpose cuverie. Down the centre of the cuverie 3 newish looking oak barrels had been placed, on mats, at suitable distances apart, each covered with white cloths, and on which were a number of drinks glasses. Back to the attire of some senior ladies:- they had really made an effort, and “gone to town” in vintage clothing and appropriate accessories e.g smart hats, walking sticks etc. I’m sure there’s a name/term for such dressing up but for now can’t recall it. Whatever, they certainly looked very impressively smart – well done them !
Eventually we were invited to move into the cuverie from the yard and served champagne by Michel and Pierre with cheesy gougères arriving from the kitchen as accompaniments. Both Acho and Prunelle doggily enjoyed themselves moving amongst us in the cuverie and scrounging for the odd gougère or part thereof. All very ‘civilised’ ! I should have noted the name of the champagne producer but, sorry, I didn’t. Michel did mention it came from a friend of his who I gather he might have been at wine school with – I gather they swap wines, something I’ve seen elsewhere, notably at Domaine Arlaud were I was aware Cyprien had wines from friends, Alex Moreau (Domaine Bernard Moreau, Chassagne) and Didier Picq (Domaine Gilbert Picq et Fils, Chablis). Typing this reminds me Michel had, on a couple of evenings the previous week, served us a Crozes-Hermitage Rouge and St Joseph from the same producer – another friend/acquaintance with wine swaps involved – apologies, again, I didn’t make a note of the producer.
Post champagne reception we moved into our dining cellar which various ladies had decorated for the evening. The tables, normally four set up across the cellar, had been moved to create two long tables the length of the cellar. As folk filed in and chose their seats I held back not quite sure, given my newbie first year status, just where I should sit but I was humbled and gratified when both Juliette and Michel insisted on a particular seat for me to solve my quandary. I should have made a note of our menu but didn’t, daft me, but have a vague recollection it may have been traditional Burgundy fare i.e jambon persille, boeuf bourguignon, fromage and a dessert.
And the Paulee wines ? Yum, no disappointment here ! We enjoyed, well I certainly did, Vosne-Romanee Village 2015, Vosne 1er Clos des Reas 2012, and Clos Vougeot Grand Maupertuis 2012. For me it was a close call on my favourite but I reckon, close call though with the Reas, it was the Vougeot which seemed to have a little more of everything. The 2012s were certainly drinking well though, something I’d found at home with a few of my less grand 2012s.
Towards the end of the meal one of the senior ladies, Marielle I think is her name, became a Master (Mistress ?) of Ceremonies, introducing speeches from Michel & Pierre then overseeing awards to Juliette and I think one or two others.
An enjoyable evening and so, in time, to bed where I’d been provided with a companion. Upside down on the bed was one of the two, very large, mounted Sanglier heads from the entrance room to our property. Some clown cum idiot, presumably a Belgian 20 something child, must have thought it was a good idea cum laugh to put it there. I wasn’t too bothered per se, but more irritated that the joint privacy of the room, Chef Jean-Michel’s as well as mine, had been compromised not least with our valuables in situ. Returning the mounted head to the room below I should then have enjoyed a decent night’s sleep but once again such was not be the case with much noise late into the night emanating from the dining cellar and outside it. Once could but wonder what the Mugneret-Gibourg sisters made of said noise from their courtyard sharing adjacent property.
Sunday would be a non-working, ‘recovery’ day, and as such I’ll cover elements of that with our working for Monday, 18th Sept.