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               Why Big Red Diary?

the harvest continues…

But 30 minutes from my house in the Bielersee vineyards – Switzerland – a very nice day for it!

There are approaching 50 different varieties grown on the terraces above Lake Biel (Lac du Bienne) but it seemed that the pinot and chasselas were the ones being harvested yesterday.
 

We also took a trip up the the Chasseral – the highest point in the Swiss Jura at 1,609m – the restaurant up there is unremarkable, rather like a modest place in a ski resort, but the views were cool! The tower is mainly a radio and TV relay for Swisscom, 120 metres tall and (this version) built in 1983…
 

well ray, am I racist?

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/slander-by-one-of-your-bloggers/

Dear Ray,
I like that you engaged with me on the wordpress site – because it’s permanent – so 24-48 hours later you can’t delete everything, as has been your penchant on twitter or facebook for the last couple of years. I think the average ‘wordpress-smith’ couldn’t care less, but other audiences maybe more-so…

Your narrative seems to have evolved to the extent that everyone who criticises you, or your (previous) actions is a racist. So… I ask myself, and you:

  • Was I racist when I gave my site to you (your fledgling business) as a platform? (e.g. here*)
    *You can find all Ray’s posts here.
  • Or was I racist when I wrote a short, and positive, profile of your domaine and your wines following my first visit to taste, here?
  • Or was I racist when I sent you, before publication, my article on the end of Maison Ilan? In which your interview comments are quoted in full – to which you never responded until, obliquely, now, 23 months later, that it was slanderous and racist…
  • Or was I just a racist when I pointed to the long list of people who had parted with money but didn’t get the wine they ordered – by the way, in most countries that’s classed as fraud – or the long list of creditors, or the lack of rent payments, or the seizing of your wines, or the ensuing court case that you lost? – Is that when I became racist?

I will still refrain from name calling, or the discussion of any future ventures that you may be involved in, because maybe you have learned lessons(?) You can certainly take up your “that you incorrectly cited as not having a business rental agreement with Maison Ilan” with the Gouges family. It’s a quote from them – if they tell me different, I will change it.

You are right that, as described by you, Casey comes across as dealing with you in a highly unethical manner, I can’t comment of the legality of his actions. But your (very many) creditors will likely only see a small shark being eaten by a larger shark. That the larger shark got indigestion and came out of the process, seemingly, with nothing, probably only means that (with hindsight) like all your other creditors, Casey probably regrets having become involved with you during this period. Please, though, don’t blame Casey for customers never getting 2011s and 2012s (I won’t criticise you over delaying the 2010 Corbeaux) – after-all, his mythical million came in 2015 – your 2011 and 2012 customers should have had those wines delivered long before…

marko’s burgundy vendange day four


Arlaud Vendange Day Four Thurs 6th Sept

I should belatedly, apologies, start with an apology for an absence of as it happened ‘material’ from 2017’s harvest. The lack of words and photos was not, believe me, for want of trying to get such to Bill. The photos were taken as usual but the issues were twofold and related to what was then my longstanding Sony Vaio laptop ‘giving up the ghost’ and before that I had inordinate trouble with my Hotmail, reasons never established or understood (but such have not re-occurred since. It was all highly frustrating at the time with my spending several bits of evening at the cuverie trying to sort matters out. Matters were all the more frustrating as April 2017 I’d bought a new i7 laptop but had chosen to leave it at home for family (who never used it), not foreseeing the Vaio issues.

Anyway, another day, routine now firmly established, and we’ve already done most of the best sites with the exception of those Vosne related and our destinations this morning. First off was the domaine’s second parcel of Charmes-Chambertin Haut. This is a little further along towards Gevrey than that first parcel we picked on Monday the 3rd, and is just past & across the road from the stone gateway (Remy ?) to Latricieres. If anyone fancies themselves at identifying the Arlaud vines the rows at each end of any parcel have posts marked with an area of white paint maybe a foot deep. Other domaines do similar with different colours or tieing something to their posts. The latest Charmes grapes were every bit as nice as those from the earlier parcel, just some minor individual grape issues which could be easily dealt with by the table de trie. By c9.30 a.m we’d finished the Charmes and decamped lower to Mazoyeres but before tackling the latter we refuelled with casse-croute, coffee and water. I’m still disbelieving of the casse-croute !!!! In the past the Mazoyeres has seemed a real slog for me with long rows but this year it all seemed relatively easy – I can only think our numbers made it so – good !

From Mazoyeres another relatively short move to Morey 1er cru Les Blanchards. We always ‘do’ this going upslope towards the village and the Cosson premises. The start point is maybe half way between village and the RN74. I’ve always liked Blanchards, as a site, to pick, and as a wine – it being my preferred Morey 1er cru after Ruchots. In past (good) years Blanchards as produced a hefty weight of fruit and large, heavy, pendulous bunches. The fruit this year, whilst super clean and attractive, wasn’t though of such a volume as sometimes seen previously. I was allocated the outside row on the right hand side and set to whilst the others were being set up by Climent who definitely has a much greater in the vines direction/management role this year and seems to have superceded Damian who it appeared might have been Herve’s possible successor. I like both Climent and Damian, and have a great deal of time for them both but I had had my doubts previously at Damian’s wanting, or being suited, to a leadership/management role and it seems I was not alone. Damian I see as someone who prefers to work hands on & with machinery, seemingly well suited in this respect. His role for this vendange, other than at the cuverie at the end of the day, has been taking the fruit cases from the porteurs onto one of the flat bed trucks and shutting backwards and forwards to the cuverie. We have 3 flat bed trucks this year, Damian and colleagues taking on the former lorry roles undertaken for years by the Besancon twosome, Rene (ex French Army Colonel) and Serge. Neither Rene, Serge, nor the third of the trio, Daniel, have made the vendange this year. I believe Rene has decided he’d had enough but Serge has had some health issue although his return next year has been mentioned. Back to my row of Blanchards I was making good progress but it seemed, probably because I started before the others and, head down, was probably out of sight for the most part, Climent had ‘forgotten’ about me as the others were all doubled up in rows (on small plots elsewhere & when there plenty of us there can be 3, 4, or even 5 pickers to a row). The Blanchards fruit was pretty damn fine & I hope Bill will include a specimen photo within the number he allows me.


And so to lunch – a nice piece of chicken today with mixed veg. Part way through lunch le patron Herve Arlaud entered the refectoire and made some sort of announcement which went straight past unable to understand me. Fortunately one of the other guys realised my plight and told me Herve had advised lunch would be extended to 13.50 (we normally get back to work c13.15). I’d previously been aware of a threat of rain in the forecast for today but had almost forgotten about it as the morning’s weather had been fine. The lunch extension was to see if it might start raining, in which case, we would not go out as there would be little point sitting in the vans watching the rain come down (done that before in other years – no fun). Needless to say an extended break was well received, not least by your’s truly as it gave me a chance to catch up on photo downloads, edit re-sizing & captioning. Some ten minutes or so before 13.50 Herve re-appeared to say he’d been on the phone to someone in Vosne-Romanee (or vice versa) who had told him it was raining heavily in Nuits & Vosne. On that basis, and the assumption the rain would arrive on Morey very soon, Herve told us any afternoon’s work was cancelled. This seemed splendid to me as:- a) there’s not much positive working in the rain, and b) when it is/has been wet the ground can soon turn very muddy indeed with consequent effects on our equipment (buckets & secateurs), us and our clothes/footwear, and the vehicle interiors. A free afternoon would also give me badly needed, useful, photo and word laptop time. Some younger elements of the workforce seemed disturbed by Herve’s announcement and a few sought individual conversations with him. I could but assume maybe loss of wage income might be the issue.

So, everyone soon drifted off so I got a beer and set to on the laptop for an afternoon. As time passed I was conscious no rain had arrived but I had an evening appointment in Beaune and driving south could see some evidence of rain around Vosne and more so Nuits but not a great deal. The roads were dry, little impact on dried verges etc from what precipitation might have fallen, just the odd puddle or area of water at the border of vines, in driveways etc. So, bizarrely, in Morey we’d been rained off but had had no rain at all ! A convivial evening in Beaune passed quickly but accompanied by the sound of occasional very heavy showers of rain. Sure enough, when I came out on the street to walk back to the car, everywhere was very wet, as was the road back to Morey. In Morey itself it was clear the evening had finally brought rain – just several hours post forecast !

To come on Day Five a real mixture of activity & including a stunning visit to Vosne 1er cru Petit-Monts.
Marko de Morey 14th Sept 2018.

marko’s burgundy vendange day three


Arlaud Vendange Day Three – 5th Sept 2018.

Day three dawned bright & sunny again, or it did when the sun came up ! My days actually start in pitch darkness at around 5.30 – 6.00 a.m illuminated only by the outside yard light(s). In deference to the other two companions of my room, one of whom will moan/grumble at the slightest aspect, I get up and post any shower/wash will dress etc using the torch of my mobile phone and taking clothes etc onto the exterior landing outside the room. A degree of prior night pre-planning is a major plus re everything I want for the next morning and placing so easily comes to hand. Once dressed & ready, collecting knee pads, gloves, water bottles, camera etc breakfast for me is a cereal cum fruit cum chocolate breakfast bar with the black coffee. I don’t have the appetite for the elaborate large piece of baguette smeared with chunks of butter, confiture(s) and/or cheese. Quite how some of my companions put this stuff away, especially now we have casse croute later, is quite impressive & beyond me ! The other longstanding habit of the others is to drink their coffee from a bowl with milk added, seemingly so they dip their baguette creation in the milky coffee – presumably for softening purposes.

And so to our first ‘appointment’ of the day, not too far to travel (we never seem to go far first thing, any distances seem to be ‘saved’ for after lunch), to Chambolle 1er cru Sentiers. This completes our ‘sweep’ of the three Arlaud premier crus and will be our last visit to Chambolle terroirs this harvest. Always very hard for me to work out just where Sentiers ends and Morey 1er Ruchots begins. We came to Sentiers via part way down the road down from the village to the RN74 but turning right into the street where Dujac are located, then out into the vines and round a couple of large edge of village properties surrounded by a wall which continues past Roumier’s Clos de la Bussieres. I mention the above as coming to Dujac, who’s vendange (starting before I arrived on the Cote) has concluded, and as we approached the property, a white Toyota Prius with Jacques Seysses at the wheel was reversing out into the street and despite Herve Arlaud sounding our van horn long & hard, the Toyota initially seemed to continue for a near miss.

Setting to in Sentiers the grapes were looking as good as usual so far although, having seen a few sites now, I’m coming to the conclusion that volumes, whilst ok, aren’t just what they have been in better past years (subsequently confirmed to me by Cyprien who describes this year volume was as like 2014 & perhaps average). I’m not seeing, in my rows anyway, the number of very large, pendulous grape bunches I’ve seen in past years – the largest, most productive vines I’ll come to in a later note (as well as the most difficult vines to deal with – not the same ones). Whilst head down in my row I heard a lot of hilarity and shouted stuff backwards & forwards between individuals. Looking up this related to much banter between Herve Arlaud and, making another appearance, David Duband who was with two of his guys several rows away nearer to the village.

Finishing Sentiers we just ‘shuffled’ along below the wall with road to Chambolle above to Ruchots for our first ‘pass’ here back down to Clos de la Bussieres. Some pretty nice grapes here (Ruchots), good to see from a terroir who’s resultant wines are firmly one of my favourites, year in year out. Quite longish rows here hence can be quite tiring unless doubled up. Critically adjudging/ benchmarking my own cutting performance so far I’d say I’m doing ok, not quite up there with the first division speed merchants (mostly ladies), but not far behind and much quicker with accuracy than others – good !

After the first row we ‘broke’ for the now established break by the Clos de la Bussieres wall. Roumier’s team were also having a break here just inside the wall of the Clos but no sign of the boss. Break time here saw an irritating ‘incident’ of a type I’ve come across in past year but not for a while. This (and I’m not bothered at all if she subsequently read this – but doubt she will) involved Estelle, a masculine looking Belgian’lady’. She’s a staying resident in the house by the gate but chose this break to start ‘having a go’ to the other vendangeurs around her/me as to Herve’s instructions over the yard exterior light and whether it should be on/off at night. On my first night (the Sunday of arrival) Herve had asked me to attend to various ‘housekeeping’ aspects for the night, doubtless as he knew I would know the ‘necessary’ – I did. Such involved making sure the outer gates to the property were locked, the inner gates closed but not locked, the hot water was turned off, and – he was quite clear to me here – the yard light be turned off. Anyway Madame Estelle had made an issue the second night to me, whilst I’d been passing her sat on steps having a fag, that henceforth the light be left on, implying I’d been wrong to turn it off the night before. I’d simply shrugged and indicated I’d done as told but doubtless with many more folk now in residence it did not surprise me Herve might now wish the light to stay on. She chose the Ruchots break to sound forth to those around her as to my implied ‘incompetence’ re the light and also seemed to imply this related to my being English. Fair to say this did NOT impress me one jot hence I responded with some anger and icy disdain, in short making clear what I thought of her & her troublemaking pot stirring, before walking off back to my row. An unpleasant individual who I’d ‘cross swords’ with some days later when, for some reason, ludicrously she was given a short stint as a porteur & needed to be put in her place as to trying to bully the picker.

Ruchots concluded without more ado up to lunch, some more impressive fruit evident in my row on the second pass. The high temperatures and degree of humidity continued to prompt significant perspiring ! By now the bucket washing gang had settled into a fine routine, making ‘light’ & efficient work of cleaning up to c40 buckets. One of my colleagues here questioned why on earth Arlaud had chosen to buy all white buckets. I laughed, responding maybe they got a discount, but also pointed out the colour at least showed all the dirt, marks etc & as such made thorough cleaning ‘easier’.

Nice lunch here today. Quality pieces of pork in nice sauce with sweet potato. Pretty yum !


Post lunch a very short move to Morey 1er Millandes, even closer to our old domaine buildings than Clos de la Roche. Start point was the roadside just past Odoul Coquard’s premises. We’d passed the latter a few times so far and I’d been surprised to see no activity and all quiet. I’d asked Herve as we drove past previously if OC had finished their vendange (a la Dujac, Lambrays etc) but he’d startled me considerably by advising they hadn’t yet started. I’d been finding ‘our’ grapes as very clearly ripe so to find a domaine quite similar to our’s as not commenced was a surprise. I like Millandes, as I do Blanchards, as the vine training, fruit set and fruit presentation without too much leafage all lend to ‘clean’ picking. Can’t recall now but believe we may have had two passes here.

From Millandes to one of my absolute faves, the always to me totally uplifting Clos St Denis (CSD). Since we started going to Vosne Petit-Monts (details of that in 2018 to come shortly) CSD has had a competitor for the ultimate place in my heart/head but I still feel CSD ‘is the one’. I suppose the wines might be an influence for now as I’ve been lucky enough to drink a few CSD’s in my time, and own some more, but whilst I’ve been buying the Vosne more pro-actively in recent years I cannot actually recall having drunk a bottle (be it mine or that of AN Other). CSD maybe looks pretty ‘ordinary’ and/or much like any other vineyard/terroir from the bottom edge road but for me it becomes special with the altitude as one ascends the plot & becomes just a magical, gorgeous place when one reaches the top of Arlaud’s plot. The vista is stunning either side and across the plain below. It always seem so eerily quiet. That one is standing in one of the great Grand Crus, and might be about to pick/cut these special grapes adds to the aura. I’ve joked in recent times, but have been semi-serious, that I might ask for my ashes to be scattered in CSD but maybe that might be a problem biodynamically ! Anyway, no time for musing, the afternoon was pushing on, as hot as ever, will it ever cool, and we had to start heading down to meet the rest of the gang working their way up. Real mix of grapes here as always, some nice supa clean bunches, no mega large one’s, but also (as is also a feature of Bonnes-Mares, CdlR & Gevrey Combottes) those thin, spindly, millerandage berries. I think we just about won the race to cover the most ground but we were heading down hill rather than climbing.

Another weary, if satisfying, end of the day with not far back to base at all and just the usual cleaning before the now regular biere at our very local bar – what an inspired idea that has been (must find out who’s claiming the credit) – every domaine harvest team should have one (their own on tap cold beer supply) !!!
To come in Day 4’s expose a little conundrum:- when is rained off without rain ?

Marko de Morey 11th Sept 2018

recent bottles…

Weeks 34-36, 2018. Actually a few wines may have slipped through, but such is life. I’ve also (so far) gone through a Baker’s Dozen of 1998s with more to come, but they will be written up, with a profile of the vintage, in my September report – due out before the end of October.

Whizzing through these; The last days have seen two cremants from Louis Bouillot – the blanc the blanc and the blanc de noirs – both are delicious and advantageously priced vs Champagnes – I’m generally the blanc de blanc type, and I had no change in preference here! This weekend saw two Chablis from Julien Brocard – these are his (Demeter) biodynamic wines, with elevage in concrete ‘eggs.’ The 2015 1er Côte de Lechet, DIAM5 sealed, was more aromatically tropical than the 2017 ‘Boissonneuse’ villages which has already moved onto the DIAM10 closure. The 2015 with more depth, weight and silk to the flavours, the 2017 with a modest extra freshness. The 2015 is better, but not a massive margin – these Brocards are not cheap but it’s a fabulous boutique range with beautiful packaging.

Of-course from another class was the 2012 Jean Chartron, Chevalier-Montrachet Clos des Chevaliers – and so it should have been, a relatively restrained nose but what length and presence – simply a wow wine – a privilege… The magnum of 1981 Clavelier Corton-(Clos)Rognets was fresh, robust and very clean – I suppose it had been filtered, but that ensured we could enjoy it over two nights – it had become musty by the third. The 1999 Remoriquet was excellent, earthy, ‘graphitey’ and complex – super – and a relief as the previous bottle was not up to par. 3 or 4 more remain in the cellar. My second 2016 Diconne Auxey-Duresses VV was just as good as the first a month or two back – delicious, classy white burgundy and a bargain too.

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…
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