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an afternoon mooching around meursault…


And still the weather is remarkably benevolent- perhaps the first rain for a while on Monday, but then sunny and and dry again – for days….
 

marko’s burgundy vendange day nine…

Arlaud Vendange Day 9, Tuesday 11th September 2018

Was something of a relief to know Roncevie was finally behind us. I mused to myself over breakfast, and pre-departure, what we might have left (that I could think of), and as a result where we might be bound. A quick digressing word on the sunrises in this part of the world and, additionally, the night sky. With every morning thus far this vendange a largely clear one we had had some spectacular sunrises with the sky orange before the golden sun comes up over the far horizon. From our village yard premises the sun comes up over M.Raphet’s vegetable patch which, bless him, he attends to assiduously every day (even Sundays), coming from Gevrey in his little white van, always in shorts, and absolutely always with his flat cap on his head – I’ve never seen it off, only sometimes pushed back whilst he scratches his head for comfort or to ponder something. He’s a fantastic man for his age. One morning near the end of the vendange, maybe one after this one, there was some broken white cloud initially which saw a spectacular initial sky with the cloud shot through with orange colours. At night, every one I could recall also clear, and with little or no light pollution away from the likes of Dijon, the night sky and star formations are utterly fascinating with the latter standing out sharply. I’m no astronomer cum star gazer to my chagrin otherwise I’d be happily identifying formations – is one a saucepan ?
 


Departure, for us in our van at least, saw an unusual change to the norm in that Cyprien (not normally seen first thing, other than on opening vendange mornings, as he usually goes direct from home to the cuverie) jumped into the Mercedes driver’s seat to surprise myself and J-P Feral as the other regular front bench seat occupants. As we left Morey I grinned and suggested to Cyprien maybe a role reversal with father, Herve, which he smiled and acknowledged as correct with a nod. I didn’t probe further as to why but curiously we didn’t see Herve again until later that morning – maybe simply he just had something else on. Quite quickly it was apparent our destination and starting terroir was the RN74 roadside Vosne Village (negoce) plot a little along from the southern corner wall of Clos Vougeot and adjacent to what had been ex-vigneron, David Clark’s, Vosne vines. I’d love to know what David C is up to now since selling his domaine (to Yann Charlopin, son of Philip) – David, per chance you might read this please get in touch, sir !

It’s a little tricky to get the vehicles off the road here & with traffic whizzing past. I always wonder about any unseen impact of road fumes, detritus etc on the vines/grapes. Quite nice looking fruit again from these vines, and with dry ground under foot another plus, as this soil can be quite soggy when damp/wet. Fairly straightforward easy picking, the only stand out for me quite large bunches of white grapes from two or three vines – we take these as well, they aren’t dropped. I swear, see photo one vine had both ‘black’ and white grapes on the one vine which I’ve never seen before but maybe it was two vines and I didn’t look closely enough. I really must ask Cyprien or Herve what grape variety this white fruit is. The ‘agent’, a small black bearded man, of the vines owner turned up as usual to oversee matters and doubtless record the number of cases. We said a cheery ‘hello’ to each other as from 2013 he’s got to know this strange Englishman in the Arlaud team. Last year I discovered who is the owner of the Echezeaux, Petit-Monts and Vosne vines but am not at liberty to confirm whom this ‘big cheese’ in the Burgundy hierarchy is as I’m sure my days at Arlaud would be over if I divulged – so my lips & ’pen’ are ‘sealed’.

A small, break-away, group had split from us at the outset leaving Morey. They’d gone further on south, led by Damian, and tackled a few rows of vines from the roadside just as the road goes out of Vosne, rising uphill, after the houses and a restaurant – terroir known as Au-dessus de la Riviere, the rows going up and over the hill towards Aux Reas. I’d picked here in previous years, and the rows aren’t short, so wasn’t fussed at not going there. From our first plot we moved on to another which is bordered on one edge by the RN74 and on another by the Avenue du Monument leading into the village, with the premises of Domaine Robert Sirugue the first buildings one comes to at the top right of the Avenue. I’ve always liked this second plot and in previous years have twice managed to be first to finish my row here – no mean feat for an old man 😊 though I say it myself. However, my favoured location for speed is the outside row on the Avenue side, which has a number of gaps in the vines (all the rows do to some extent with re-planting but the outside has more). I tried to be first to get ‘my row’ but Speedy Gonzalez picker (bless her, she is quick), shy but sweet local lady Laetitia, an experienced vendangeur, was directed to it before I could get there with my ending up 5/6 rows in from the Avenue. I wasn’t feeling at my fastest either, it was getting too hot, but managed to finish my less favoured row respectably, maybe in the top 8 finishers, thereafter assisting two or three others to complete before we all ‘broke’ for casse croute, water and/or coffee, with Herve now having made a re-appearance, Cyprien disappearing, doubtless back to the cuverie. Post break we managed another pass of the vines then embarked the vehicles to move through Vosne to Aux Reas (maybe, looking at the map now, including Les Jacquines) with views to the west to a patchwork of vines along the rising slopes which must be NSG village and premier cru, & to the NW, Vosne terroirs. These other vineyards looked quite ‘busy’ judging from distance at the number of small groups of ubiquitous white vans and other vehicIes dotted about. I’m not sure what the area of negoce vines is here (Aux Reas) but it seems sizeable with longish rows. Good fruit again and very dry, dusty, ground underfoot. Completion here took us thankfully to lunch which I was glad came when it did as I really was feeling tired now and very hot. I was feeling every bit of 8.5 days graft, and the heat, being as far from frisky as some of the youngsters. I can imagine lots of folk might have romantic notions of the grape harvest, and working it, BUT I would caution consideration of ‘reality’. Basically, its agricultural labour, and its tough (and/or can be ‘worse’ than that). Long hours, all weathers (sunny & dry this year throughout but too hot !), lots of bending, getting up and down (hard on the knees), danger of self-inflicted cuts, dirt, sticky juice, potentially annoying colleagues etc etc. But, equally, lots of balancing positives, for me anyway, e.g being close to/at the start of the winemaking process, being ‘in’ the Burgundy vineyards (including Grand Cru one’s here), camaraderie, being paid for something one might really want/love to do, fed/watered/ accommodated, being in the open air (when its not raining !), variety of terroirs and, overall, the experience not ‘that many’ might have the opportunity for. There are issues coming to the fore with the historic manual picking but I’ll address those in a later piece.
 


Our afternoon was somewhat different to the Vosne ‘experience’. By now, Thursday, 13th September 2018, Day 11, was being openly discussed as being our final day. I reckoned we had the Hautes-Cotes to do (probably a full day) and then probably finishing off local ‘stuff’ e.g Arlaud have a polt of Gamay we hadn’t yet been to and I could picture some Bourgogne Rouge we hadn’t yet visited. So, end in ‘sight’ to a degree. Meanwhile this afternoon started with us leaving the village towards the main road cross roads traffic lights, crossing over and moving east of the mix of commercial and private properties ‘below the road’, then turning north along what I think is a road known as Chemin des Aires to a site (some way below Morey Les Crais) next to what I call a ‘grand maison’, a large private house with extensive grounds, wall etc which is the last before/bordering the vines. A quite impressive large, new build home was in course of construction opposite the ‘grand maison’. En route I was stunned to see what must be the relatively new (very new Bill ?) cuverie and premises of Domaine Raphet. This looked very impressive indeed, quite a sizeable building indeed, quite a bit of glass and large ‘Raphet’ lettering. Anyway, we pulled into our Bourgogne Rouge plot, adjacent to cut wood piles, the vehicles on open grass, and got ‘stuck in’. There aren’t that many rows here and we were enough in number to be spaced out 3 of us to each row. The modus operandii when doubling, or here, tripling up, is for the director (Climent in this case) to direct his individual workers to start specific rows, and then add another picker/pickers to that row, with the additional person(s) normally being directed to start either circa half way along or more commonly one, or a few, piquets (posts carrying the wires) along. As picking proceeds the individuals, completing their ‘section’ of vines in the row, will then ‘leapfrog’ their fellow row companions and go to (re-start at) the next piquet and so on/so forth until the end of the row is reached. With 3 per row here we moved quite quickly. This particular plot is, or can be, very low yielding and is another which can be susceptible to rain/wet but again was as dry as I’ve ever seen. The yields were ‘ok’, not pitiful as I have seen here, but not mega either. Quite a bit of millerandage grapes as well, another feature here.

We then moved across/south of Morey, still on the railway side of the RN74, to more Bourgogne Rouge which I couldn’t recollect having been too previously. The vines here are almost below Chambolle looking upslope, and must be nearly in the commune of Gilly-les-Citeaux. The rows here were long, going quite some way towards the railway line, if not to it, such that passing trains were very noticeable (freight and passenger). The line between Dijon – Beaune seems a very busy one with trains at quite frequent intervals. Nothing remarkable about this latest BR. I did wonder if the grapes go into the ‘& Arlaud’ Bourgogne ‘Oka’ and if, maybe, these aren’t domaine owned wines but maybe negoce. I can imagine these vines more than probably were badly frosted in 2016 as, if the Chambolle premier crus suffered (and did they – we didn’t go to them that year), then these very low lying vines would have had ‘no chance’.

A bit bizarrely after the above we went back again to the other side of Morey (quite why we hadn’t stayed that way from the first plot after lunch I’m not sure), still ‘below’ the main road and about 15.15 had a rest break then, looking up almost directly to Morey in the distance, tackled more Bourgogne Rouge for the rest of the afternoon until cessation of proceedings. Here, one of my photos, for amusement of us both when I took it, is of a very tall individual, bare chested on this occasion, being one of the first time at Arlaud two guys from Belfort, France – lodging, who shared the room behind mine with a youngster. I never knew the name of this chap but called him Monsieur Belfort & we got ‘on’ from the outset. He had some English which always helps ! He was clearly into the (muscular) ‘body beautiful’, or rather sculpted, and I think is probably a gym/weights fiend. I’m sure he was mixing/taking what were probably body building supplements at breakfast time. Build wise he was ideal as a porteur, incredibly so, as strong, very tall, with long legs. In fact, the way he got from one row of vines into the next, with incredible ease, flipping one leading leg over first like a mega hurdler was like nothing I’d seen before. Another of his occasional ‘party pieces’ was to very athletically indeed actually run, yes run (or at least jog), up and down the rows to/from the truck with fruit case on it’s carrying frame on his back, either full or empty. Quite amazing, especially in the heat we experienced. M.Belfort was an excellent porter. Not only was he quick, but he was sympathique/understanding of picking (his friend) did this, and endeared himself to me by doing leaf stripping in the row he was stood in of his own volition (rare for a porteur, trust me) whilst awaiting suitable moments to empty ‘his’ pickers buckets. Belfort was also remarkable for another facet – his music Soundbox, Beatbox, or whatever one calls a music speaker box. I’m not sure if he had music recorded on this device, or connected to it from his phone via Bluetooth, but I think he first carried the thing in Morey Ruchots. The battery life didn’t seem outstanding so the music broadcasts were somewhat infrequent (unless he couldn’t be bothered carrying it all the time) but when the music was playing/broadcast it was quite something. His music tastes were a bit eclectic but he certainly liked punk, but lots of forms of punk – he did tell me his favourite punk genre (up to this I’d no idea there were so many). However, he also liked heavy rock, and notably, Led Zeppelin. I gained a vast amount of ‘brownie points’ with him when I conversationally mentioned I’d seen Led Zep live in concert 3 or 4 times – he hasn’t, more’s the pity for him. The stand out songs I remember from his device were ‘Anarchy in the UK’ by The Sex Pistols and ‘Dazed & Confused’ by Led Zep (played many times) plus other Zeppelin tracks. There was one hilarious moment, if faintly ridiculous on my part but hey, when both Belfort and I broke from what we were doing to have a brief air guitar session dans les vignes to the particular amusement of those around us. I only saw him go bare chested the once, this day, doubtless a sign of the unrelenting heat, but I ‘snapped’ him and jokingly advised he’d be appearing on the internet and should possibly be ready to be inundated from female admirers. He was horrified, or tried to be, I don’t believe he was really !

So that was ‘it’ from Day 9. The next day we’d saunter up to the Hautes-Cotes & be there all day – more on that to come.

To close, a ‘footnote’. If anyone reading my random nonsense is keen on understanding some/all of the terroirs, locations etc then, other than internet maps, I reckon I can do no better than to mention a book which is certainly well used by me (I took it to the vendange with me and it’s a heavy beast), probably my most used Burgundy reference work, and I believe might also be a ‘bible’ for Bill as well. My version, the original, in French, is entitled ‘Climats et Lieux Dits des Grand Vignobles de Bourgogne, Atlas et Histoire des Noms de Lieux’, authors Marie-Helene Landrieu-Lussigny and Sylvain Pitiot (latter of Clos de Tart ‘fame’). An English version now exists and I would acquire one for myself and a friend from Beaune’s Athenaeum shop before returning to the UK. A superb book with excellent maps, not cheap but worth it for me. Disclaimer:- I’m just an owner/user with no connection to authors or publishers. I guess other books are available.
Marko de Morey 26th/27th September 2018

(mainly) côte de nuits today…

Slowly a little Autumn colour is sneaking in…
 

back home in beaune…

A walk much closer to home today – a walk from the centre of Beaune, out through the premier crus into Pommard – a quick cola there, before returning through a different range of premiers back to Beaune. 3 hours, 12km…
 

a northern burgundy day…

My ‘holiday’ week continues (next week I begin my attack on the 2017 whites) but today our first stop of the day was Auxerre – of-course noting a little Côteaux Auxerois on the way into the city!

The entry into the city, over the bridge is a balm for sore eyes – simply beautiful. A great place to spend half a day, following the back-streets of the old town, moving from Hotel Particular to Hotel Particular – fully recommended!
 


Then onwards to the Abbey of Fontenay, but en-route a must stop is Noyers-sur-Serein – described as a preserved medieval town – worth an hour or two of anyone’s time:

We finished our day at the Abbey of Fontenay – frankly it’s worth double the price of admission (a paltry €10) – I could have spent a whole day with a collection of cameras!
 

marko’s burgundy vendange day eight…

Arlaud Vendange Day Eight – Monday, 10th Sept 2018


Another day, a week in from our start, another day of Roncevie ☹ ! My original recollection some days after was that we finished entirely/at last in Roncevie by lunchtime but my photo timings remind we actually went on to circa 15.00 hrs before finally being ‘done’ here for another year. Otherwise, from morning start to conclusion it was just row pass after row pass. The fruit though, in the higher (higher meaning towards/just below the road) parts of Roncevie we were now in was pretty darn good (see photos), amongst the best in size & appearance I could recall from anywhere. The sun and heat continued, to be my stand out feature of this vendange. I can recall other pretty warm/hot vendange weather conditions (2009, 2015 ?) but this year seemed ‘something else’. Unremarkably this diminishing element of Roncevie continued to, and after, lunch but ultimately we finally finished as above with a decent rest break before departing. I can recall it was by now seriously hot and, whilst not sure about the others, by now I was seriously fatigued.

A couple of ‘side notes’ before detailing the rest of our afternoon. Firstly, on either the Saturday or Sunday late morning (cant recall which now), whilst we were working near the road a convoy of noisy, hooting, vehicles with large pink flags being vigorously waved from windows etc and shouty occupants passed us heading south. I was bemused but deduced from the comments of others this related to some political grouping, presumably on the way to a rally or just demonstrating. I’ve no idea what political party/group were passing us but one of our number was a young guy, a regular in recent years, always friendly with me, also called Mark (maybe whilst I’m universally referred to as Marko). I’m not sure what started it but the passing of the noisy convoy prompted a most unusual impassioned & argumentative debate some rows away from me which involved my namesake, seemingly on his own with his views (pro or anti the convoy I’ve no idea) against a number of the others. Matters seemed to get heated quite quickly (I kept my head down having no idea what it was all about & sensing I didn’t really want to know !) but, as threatening to continue and cause real discord, Climent authoritatively stepped in, shouting to Mark to essentially ‘Shut Up’. Calm descended but we didn’t see Mark again for the rest of the vendange – whether he re-appears next year we’ll see. Politics eh ?

The other side note relates to a new vendangeur to the Group, whom I think started today having worked elsewhere, who quickly made her presence ‘felt’ as a source of amusement which became almost a feature of the vendange – in fact in the latter stages it was !!! This girl/lady was known as Marie (she can be seen nearest to the camera on the back row of the photo captioned ‘My Sprinter Van crew end of day 10092018’). I initially, actually for a day or two, thought Marie to be Portuguese or Spanish from appearance but was stunned in due course to learn she was/is Japanese – yet another from what seems quite a Dijon population from Japan who have been living there some years. Kaito, for example, who started cutting with us before moving to the triage table, had told me she’d lived in Dijon 8 years and outside the vendange had a full-time job as a patisserie chef at a Dijon Japanese restaurant. To digress for a second Kaito has an impressive vendange history of which I’m extremely jealous !!! She has worked previously at Dujac for a couple of years but also 3 years at Rousseau – one day with us wearing a red 2016 Rousseau vendange t shirt. Kaito also told me Marie had done administration work previously at Rousseau. Anyway, back to Marie, she has an endearing & distinctive way of talking which I can only think to best describe as ‘sing song’. This aside though what made her talking, which at times seemed non stop chatter to be heard many rows away, notable was her unwitting ‘catch phrase’ which was taken up by many others and was undoubtedly the ultimate catch phrase of the Arlaud vendange. This was “Oooh la la” !!! I’ve no idea where she got this from but it was a feature of her chatter & quickly caused much amusement amongst the rest of the team and was taken on by quite a few for their own purposes and mimicking Marie in friendly fashion. In the initial stages of her joining us Marie was working with Porteur Nico. Nico is a great guy & one of the best porteurs I’ve worked with in 9 years. It was quickly apparent, with no malice aforethought that Nico was encouraging Marie’s chatter, and particularly her use of ‘Oooh la la’. All very funny and whilst I slightly worried at Marie being upset by the mimicking, amusement etc she never showed any signs and took it all in good heart. I even found myself succumbing to an odd ‘Oooh la la’ to myself to apply to a suitable situation.

From Roncevie we moved initially to the first of two additional plots to be tackled for the remainder of the afternoon. The first of these was the most seriously unpleasant cutting experience I had through the whole vendange – horrible, frustrating, and just what one didn’t need after three quarters of a day of Roncevie in mega heat. This location was our second and final bite at Morey Clos Solon. Arlaud have two parcels in Clos Solon- one I know is negoce, the other I think they own but am not sure about. We’d done the higher of the two plots of course on Day 5 which was wholly unlike the horror that was coming. Before disembarking as we arrived on the track which goes thro Clos Solon Herve had to brake slightly/unexpectedly as a young dog (large gambolling puppy really – all floppy legs and ears) of long legged bull terrier like breed crossed in front of our van back towards the truck of another domaine already there just by us. The older gentleman with the truck admonished the dog which flopped into the shade between two rows of vines. I enquired which domaine this dog was accompanying but couldn’t pick up the response. Once out of our van and equipped with my gear as always a dog lover I looked for & found the dog who came out of his shade to greet me, twisting himself with pleasure at my greeting & stroking him. I picked him up with some difficulty as he was a growing boy to receive a squirming loving face wash for my trouble. Called to start I put him back in his shady place with a final pat or two intending to return to him later for a photo or two – as it happened ‘his’ domaine people subsequently moved higher up the plot and him with them, so no doggy photos.


Clos Salon Part Deux – what a bar steward (pardon me) this was. Blimey. When I mentioned it later to full time domaine employee and fellow bucket washer Cedric he surprised me with his own agreeing vehemence, saying en francais he detested it – so I was not alone ! The issues ? Different type of Pinot clone here me thinks but the vines were low, the leaf growth the heaviest I’d seen anywhere or could recall for a while which made ‘normal’ leaf stripping inadequate, small & infrequent bunches of often well hidden fruit, and difficult ‘presentation’ of fruit which didn’t accord with normal vine training pattern, all of which made picking one’s way through this ‘jungle’ a flippin nightmare. Doubtless due to fatigue I was having one of those times when, after I had cut a bunch of grapes, I constantly seemed to miss getting it into the bucket – either the fruit going straight onto the ground or bouncing off the rim of the bucket. Frustration, curses and grim determination took me to the end of my row near the road and, boy, was I glad to be out of there after that. Suffice to say no photos from Clos Solon – I had other things on my mind !

Things could only get better (as the D:Ream song says) and thank goodness they did with a plot of Morey Village ‘below’ the road although, sorry, I can’t just now remember exactly where this was & thus identify it by name. At least I think it was Morey Village but it wasn’t Clos Solon or En Seuvrey. Refreshingly as the day was now heading to a conclusion the fruit here was really nice and also straightforward to cut.

Can’t recall if I made one of my several trips to Beaune this evening but, if this evening wasn’t one of them, an example of the day’s heat on one evening occasion was my car’s dashboard reading 29.5 degrees Centigrade and that at 18.45 p.m. evening – which makes one wonder what the peak temps might have been that same afternoon. We had two days in the latter stages of the vendange were the peak temps were certainly over 30 degrees Centigrade.

And so onwards to Day 9 – a Vosne Village morning and local Bourgogne Rouge to come. I should add that by now, with it clear there must be a limited number of sites for us to go to, there was occasional ‘gossip’ as to when we might be totally finished – suggestions, depending whom one spoke to, of 2-4 days to go – all will be revealed how many !

Marko de Morey 25/09/2018

a southern burgundy day…


Solutre – but a shame about the bus!

Still colder, but eventually a couple of degrees warmer than yesterday – still, the legs declined another 20km walking day!

We toured through the small villages from Tournus towards Cruzille via the gorgeous Ozenay, then slowly worked our way to Vergisson and Solutre. Ahead of us was the prospect of lunch at Josephines in St.Amour. We slept off our lunch in their garden, near the pool – only to be (later) informed that here was private – oh-well – it’s only the first time that we’ve been caught! Onwards: Julienas, Jullie, Fleurie La Madone, Fleurie, Poncie, MAV and then back to Beaune for our Aperol-Spritz – enjoy!
 

weekend wines – week 38 2018

2014 Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne Blanc Le Chapitre
Quite a deep golden – but then Sylvain has never been one to shy away from ‘low sulfur.’ The nose is relatively tight but fresh with a little ripe mirabelle fruit possibly even baked apple pie but even a faint suggestion of reduction. This is sleek wine, of beautiful, driving, mouth-watering line – it’s just so juicily delicious and with fine, lingering, flavour. Don’t chill this too much or it will be drunk in flash – you have been warned! Great stuff!

2014 Lambrays, Bourgogne Rosé
Medium, medium-plus colour for a rosé. The nose is not super enticing – faintly cheesy-feet and a little high-toned, almost in the direction of volatility. In the mouth this has lovely shape and a little fat to the texture. The initial flavours are far from ripe but the flavour opens out and holds in a definitely un-Bourgogne way. Still, this is quite good at best and a long way from great. I can only assume that this was already best consumed in 2015 or 2016…

2016 Château Thivin, Côte de Brouilly Cuvée Zaccharie Geoffray
Now that’s a deep colour! The nose starts with a little reduction in the depths, but time in the glass, or a little time sans cork, and it’s gone. What remains has fresh width, a little graphite and a beautiful black cherry note. The palate has freshness and weight that intensifies and them melts over the palate in an extravaganza of a bright, pure beam of od cherry fruit. Simply top class! Bravo…

vosne to the abbaye – and back!

Almost 10 degrees cooler today and with a cool wind too – it seemed perfect for lacing-up the walking shoes!

I have to say that the signposts were sometimes good, sometimes totally absent – fortunately we only once went 15 minutes in the wrong direction!
 

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