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Mark’s harvest: Vendange Day 5

Late evening Day 4 saw, from circa 21.30 onwards, as we finished our evening meal proceedings, a quite spectacular electrical and thunder storm over Morey which went on to about 12.30. Did not bode well for the following day, Friday, but at least cleared the air somewhat from the almost oppressive temperatures which had marked our vendange thus far.

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 5, Friday 19th Sept 2014
…dawned damp and fresher. Bit of rain in the air but nothing of consequence. Ground now muddy under foot akin to 2013. This, in grape cutting terms, was a ‘basic’ / routine day and so unremarkable I was never moved to take any photos. In essence we shuttled about around Morey and mainly the Chambolle side above and below the main D974 road cutting Morey & Chambolle Village and also, I think it was today, had our first look at white grapes via old vine Aligote on the railway side of the D974. I do like cutting Aligote but its essential to properly leaf strip each vine like a whirling dervish to make sure one does not miss any bunches – sure as you leave a leaf behind it will be you know what and its also easy to miss a small bunch of white grapes against the light hence looking over and down the other side of a vine, plus back at one’s moved on from, I find essential for a proper job. Rain came with ‘good’ timing at lunch time, just as we returned to Morey centre and continued such that it held up our resuming activities post lunch. Just though when I was harbouring thoughts of a luxury afternoon off, and maybe spending that at the cuverie trying to get up to date with stuff to Bill, the rain stopped around 14.00 hrs so we went again to late afternoon finishing with a nice looking plot of Morey Village. The ‘attraction’ of Chambolle Village though had waned somewhat though as the day had progressed such that the same evening, in making my customary visit to the cuverie for wi-fi use I was moved to say to a grinning Cyprien that I wasn’t sure if I was bothered about seeing another bottle of Chambolle Village again ! And so to evening meal and bed ! I’ll cover off wines consumed with dinner at a later date, the stand outs my contributions and two separate evenings efforts from Herve/Cyprien which were class ! Otherwise, the usual tipples were Bourgogne 2010 PTG and a unlabelled Bourgogne Aligote, with a Bourgogne Rose (a first for me here) making an increasing appearance as the vendange went on (think we’d drunk too much white !!! ).

Mark’s harvest: Vendange Day 4 – p.m Negoce !

ARLAUD VENDANGE – Day 4 (pm), Thurs 18th Sept 2014

Bonjour, tout le monde, sorry for the delayed re-appearance of notes, thoughts etc from Morey – we’ve been working like slaves and, despite best intentions any number of times, my journalistic desires (if one can call it that) have just had to take a ‘back seat’ to working, eating, sleeping (if one can with fellow room incumbent snoring, cat affectionately headbutting you awake at 3 a.m, or hand/arm crippling you, as all have featured – one and three every night), keeping clean, keeping one’s gear clean, etc etc etc. There is literally very little time to one’s self and when that occurs one is in bed or thinking you need to be !

I’ve already covered off what happened chez Arlaud day 4 morning in day 3’s ‘war and peace’ (Bill’s words not mine but was good of him not to edit – he probably didn’t have time / could not be a…d !). The related photos to what follows have already also been posted by Bill so what follows is just a ‘little’ supporting text. The real ‘fun’ action of Day 4 came in the afternoon when we sallied off to Vosne (yippee !) and had a ‘negoce’ afternoon similar to that as occurred in 2013 for the first time when Cyprien Arlaud deployed his newish negoce licence in full on intent. The afternoon’s exertions this year, and boy where they initially (exertions !), began at a Vougeot side roadside plot of Vosne Village (close by where David Clark had his Vosne Village before he sadly sold up – if you are reading this David hope you are good – you are thought of often, especially at the mo). The Vosne roadside vines produced grapes that were shockers with rot in 2013 but this year they are light years improved such its hard to believe they are from the same plot – there is some rot this year but in context nominal I’d say, and as everywhere you go it seems, you have these big butch bunches of grapes filling buckets and porteur’s cases in no time. It was ferociously hot again here and to say your’s truly was perspiring freely is really a gross misuse of ‘freely’ ! Several times on this vendange I’ve had very naughty fantasising thoughts what I might do for several cold lagers – just wait until I get home !

We moved on from the first roadside plot the short distance to ‘the other’ Vosne Village plot (that is besides Aux Reas – more of that another day) which is a block with its lower edge to the road, one of its longer sides to the tree lined avenue (where the war memorial is) leading into Vosne itself. The plot goes about half way up the distance to the village from the road. Good grief it was hot still. We beavered away, bit more rot here, but I was coupering well (one seems to have definite good and bad days) and finished my first allocated row in snappy fashion before the majority of the main gang (a rare event for this not getting any younger 57 yr old) . Herve moved me to another row over to the outside which brought me close up to my bete noir ! This is one Xavier (surname unknown). This, and I’m sorry but this is all true, unprepossessing skinny young male is not an attractive specimen in any way, and dresses and behaves as he looks. How about wearing the same grubby polo shirt, disgusting looking ‘fashion’ shorts, and scruffy trainers every day ??? One might think, ‘well, he probably washes them all overnight’ – I don’t think so !!! He and his ‘friends’, there are a gang of about 4 of them, endeared themselves to me on the first lunch when in our dining refectoire (the old US Army field hospital building) they grabbed the best seats on table 1, closest to the food (!), the table traditionally every year the preserve of the older, regular, team members and Herve as le boss. It soon became apparent why they had plonked themselves down where they had as, after demolishing their first helpings with a total lack of anything akin to table manners, they had the damn cheek (well, I thought it was, never having seen this in 5 years) to go back for seconds !!! And probably would have had thirds if they felt they could get away with it. Let me say there’s no way I’d want seconds so no envy etc there – I’ve stopped having cheese and dessert & limited my lunch wine intake so as not to adversely affect afternoon vineyard performance ! I was only also amazed the incredibly nice Beatrice, normal role the Arlaud office lady – for this vendange in charge of lunch dishing up/clearing up afterwards – let the ‘tribe’ have seconds but she did although she later mentioned to me another day she was fully aware of what was going on and in control !

Back to the incredible Xavier at Vosne. I’d already decided previously another day, that whilst we can’t all be blessed, and humbly admitting I wasn’t the quickest once upon a time, that he has to be the worst and most devious couper I’ve had the misfortune to come across in 7 years. On, I think, day 2 having doubtless recognised his cutting limitations (or lack of desire for anything akin to graft) he tried his hand at being a porteur . How that had come about amazed me at the time as cut out to be a porteur Xavier clearly was not – suffice to say that didn’t last long, thank god ! Anyway, back to Xavier at Vosne, and cutting a long story short, I could not believe what I was seeing. Kid you all not, he must have taken c10 minutes phaffing about with one vine, some of that time taken up by being ducked below it, doubtless to avoid being seen ! How, through the vendange, Herve didn’t sack this guy was totally beyond me but that afternoon in Vosne just left me seething at what the lazy so and so was getting away with – as ultimately we all end up doing what he should.

Badly needed, well earned rest required and much slopping of water drinks at the end of the Village exertions before the routine cry of ‘en vehicule’. Off we went up into and through the streets of Vosne, weaving left from the centre place, and around other domaines vehicles and equipment in the narrow back streets, up past ‘La Grande Rue’ on our left (brought back sad thoughts of the unfortunate/untimely death of M Lamarche in the last year), ‘Romanee-Conti’ and ‘La Romanee’ on our right, to a spot now high up on the road near ‘Aux Reignots’ where we disembarked and grabbed buckets and secateurs to the superbly located and, for me, endlessly fascinating Vosne 1er cru ‘Les Petits Monts’.

The vines from which Arlaud buy the grapes here are on the far side and top part of the plot and, unlike most others, are trained across slope rather than more conventional up and down. The rows are tight together, and with a steepish slope, one needs to keep an eye one’s bucket is level and have a secure footing – for the latter I found to wedge one foot against the base of a vine behind you, with the other foot upslope just under the vines being picked gave a secure ‘platform’. We were doubled up two to a row leapfrogging each other and soon seemed to have completed the the cut. The ground was dry underfoot and, yes, the grapes looked fantastic, rot free, and so was the quantity such that we were struggling for cases/porteurs to take the amount we were pulling off the vines. Amazing compared to 2013 when nothing like the quantity and some indifferent quality. Happy days ! Just a bit of time to admire the incredible vistas of Vosne below, and up and down the Cote – amazing on a clear day – and snap a few photos. No sign this year of my smiley photo subject of 2013, Henri Audiffred, who’s premises though I had noted as we entered Vosne. At this stage it was well on into the afternoon hence I just assumed we’d have a restful drive back to Morey, possibly cut some village or Bourgogne and that would be ‘it’ for the day. Err, not quite, I’d forgotten something ! My excuse here is that I’d not been involved in the plot in question in 2013 as then we’d been split and I’d ‘done’ Bonnes-Mares. From Petit-Monts we dropped back downhill then took the road north between Romanee-Conti & Romanee St-Vivant, past a very well (i.e expensively !) dressed mature lady getting back into her expensive looking Mercedes-Benz estate (she did not look like a tourist albeit I didn’t recognise her !), then onward past Les Richebourgs to the left, RSV part two to the right, before a slight right hand ‘dogleg’ through Vosne ‘1er ‘Les Suchots’, pulling up at somewhere entirely new to me ! Puzzled, above me was a sort of Combe. Where was this ?!?! Question asked – doh, Echezeaux GC Les Treux !!! I’d forgotten all about this ! Wow, my first ever work in a V-R related GC. And what vines, goodness me did these look old – turned out average age c70 years old – tres vieilles vignes ??? Bill’s already published a grapes on vine photo – entirely representative – gawd, I want some of the wine from here when its released (if I can afford it !!!). An amazing end to a varied, interesting, exciting in parts, and hard working day – maybe not quite at the wow factor of Day 3 but not far from it and, together, just the best two collective days without a doubt of my seven years vendange experience. Not all vendange work can be so amaze balls (no protests, this is a proper phrase included in the Oxford English Dictionary I’ve been dying to use for ages although not suited to my usual banking day job !) as I’ll outline in coming days but I’ll take what we’ve done so far as some sort of experience to live long in the memory.

weekend – old and new vosne (ish…)


Okay, Clos de Vougeot is close, but not quite Vosne, but elevage was there – surely the yeasts count for something 😉

1997 René Engel, Clos de Vougeot
Okay, I’ll admit – this is a little cloudy. And whilst the nose starts wide, Vosne in style, with a little beef and mocha, it slowly settles down in to a less interesting, more beef, potential brett mode. Luckily, it tastes brilliant; sweet, but focused and showing fine clarity and acidity – all of which are hard to come by in a 1997. To be honest, and despite the nose, I drank this with relish. This is clearly a ‘drink now’ wine but despite its issues, it was delicious!
Rebuy – Yes

Out with the old…

2012 Robert Sirugue, Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Petits Monts
Medium, medium-plus colour even a little purple at the rim. It’s a lovely, faintly spiced, sweet and deep cherry note. It is clearly a wine of Vosne – and an appealing one too. Crocquant, sweet, good depth of flavour – the flavour has the faintest bitter-coating – but that’s a positive as there’s even more interest. Good, round, perfectly balanced. Maybe it could have a little more intensity for a 1er, but it’s so delicious today, I really don’t care – and it’s far from an expensive bottle… Super!
Rebuy – Yes

haha! find the codes…

there’s a hole…

Luckily, I’ve plenty of things to type. I’ve even more things to arrange – such as my first wave of tastings for white 2013s. But there’s a bit of a hole…

There are no more grapes – and come to think of it, no Mark de Morey either – he seems lost in action!

Of-course, it can be a little wearying, but it’s great to be part of a team, and one that can make such a difference – that’s the triage team – of-course! We brought (almost) the last grapes in on Tuesday, and then yesterday it rained – it seems planned like a well-oiled machine – eh?! 🙂

But more of today – I see that Panos beat me to the punch at winesearcher. It’s a more nuanced version of the terrible headline-making of Decanter and it’s worth your time. It’s the first time I’ve seen the suzukis linked to late cherries, but why not…

a couple of links…

Decanter News: “The latest Burgundy export figures suggest the region’s wines are becoming harder for consumers to find and there are fears that prices have risen too strongly.”
…I suppose the obvious reaction is – no shit Sherlock…

To distract me from such pricing, I’ve been reading Jerome’s tour of domaines during harvest. Good stuff.

Burgundy Harvest 23 September 2014…

OUF! That’s cold!

We woke today to blue skies and what would turn out to be a day of glorious sunshine – but OUF (again) – the temperature, and that wind is cold – are we suddenly in November? Heading to the triage table, my gillet wasn’t enough – I needed double-gillet-ing!

Today we started with grapes from Lavaux St.Jacques – they were grapes to warm the hart – if not my blue fingers while sorting. Really only the most peripheral of sorting was required, indeed they were so good that half our cache went straight to the fermentation tank with their stems intact. Lovely stuff.

Actually not so many grapes today, so we have the luxury of lunch closer to 12h00 than 14h00. My 2000 Pavelot Dominode is sublime (as is a lovely Meerlust Chardonnay), and really concentrated for the vintage – essence of dark, half-roast redcurrant on the nose – I could sniff all afternoon. But. There is Marsannay today too.

Actually the Marsannay are almost our last grapes for this vintage; only a little Hautes Côtes red and white remain on the vine – where they will stay until the end of the week. There were some unripe bunches to pull from this Marsannay, a little dried material too, but again, very, very little rot.

So that’s my triage for 2014. Almost all the home domaine’s tanks are now full. A good team and great grapes.

Burgundy Harvest 22 September 2014…

DSC05052I loved the Clos St.Denis but was completely unmoved by the Griotte – and I can’t blame the cork! How will the last of this trio of 2012s fare?

2012 Chézeaux (Ponsot), Chambolle-Musigny 1er Les Charmes
Deeply coloured. Pure, crunchy griotte fruit – obvious ripeness but plenty of freshness too – I like. In the mouth this has a widening palate, sweetness but a nice texture and energy too. It seems longer-finishing that the Griotte-Chambertin and certainly much more interest today. This is a good wine that I’ll be happy try again (and again!)
Rebuy – Yes

Back to the harvest…

This morning was blue-skied sunshine – but 4 or 5 degrees cooler was my impression – it feels just a little more autumnal. The forecast for the coming days is great though, a disadvantage of that is that our growers have decided that they will wait, and maybe pick on Tuesday or Wednesday. Luckily, one of them has second thoughts, delivering a few pallets of Le Chambertin (fanfare!)

Given that the grapes arrive just before lunch, it seems fair that we leave them in the refrigerated truck and attend to them after desert and coffee – in France, even Le Roi comes after lunch 😉

We have only a small team today, but we have the time to sort, slow and steady – the grapes are in great shape – just some occasional rot and the small dried grapes to take away. This will make a lovely wine.

Pics from Beaune this morning, and Le Roi Chambertin:

Burgundy Harvest: 21 Sept 2014 (the pause)…

Of-course we had storms and even the possibility of hail in our weather forecast for today, so no grapes.

Instead, breakfast at Hotel Le Montrachet – for six – one of which has their birthday. We, very enjoyably, graze for 90 minutes, until they take it all away…

As you will note from the pictures (below), the storm seemed a long, way-away – if it was to come at all – there’s a short burst of rain in Beaune about 14h45, but only for 5 minutes against a backdrop of sunshine. So back to the keyboard, after cruising past the cows in Place Madeleine!

Post Script: A few small showers later in the evening, but basically nothing. We thank the forecasters for our day off!

Not so stormy Beaune:

mark’s harvest: 18 sept (pics)…

Burgundy Harvest: 20 Sept 2014…

DSC05021It’s Saturday!!

But no rest for the wicked – or those with grapes! The rain started again on Friday evening ~21h00 – it was still raining at 12h30, but I’ve no idea when it stopped. There were a few spots of rain this morning too, but not enough to really wet – the sun shone brightly from about 14h00 though. There’s the possibility of a storm with hail forecast for Sunday, so tomorrow we have no grapes – but there was plenty to pick today, hence, we triaged from 10h00-19h00 – admittedly with the two obligatory coffee-pauses and a good lunch. I brought the 1973 no-name Romanée St.Vivant – all chocolate, width and with just a faint suggestion of oxidation. It exceeded my expectations!

And the grapes? First, it was the return of the Santenay Villages whose picking was cut short yesterday due to the storm. Beautiful grapes as you can see below. Then (fanfare…) Corton Clos du Roi, then Maranges 1er Croix Aux Moines. Actually the loveliest grapes were the Santenay; the Clos du Roi had no rot but we had to concentrate on eliminating the small, dried grapes from the triage table – and there were lots. One of our parcels of Maranges had quite a bit of unripe clusters – we didn’t really want to pick it until next week – but given the forecast, the grower decided not to wait. Still, a rosé will also be made tonight 😉

First, the Santenay:

And the others:

Burgundy Harvest: sensationalist, un-nuanced, reporting

Burgundy 2014: September heatwave set to save vintage

Sensationalist BS – the headline anyway – it could of-course reference the ‘Meursault to Beaune’ area but that is, from a volume perspective, clearly only a modest percentage of whole of Burgundy, and (for instance) contains no red grand crus etcetera, etcetera…

Let’s assume it was the editor who was to blame…

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