Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 2 – Sept 11th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 25, 2023 #vintage 2023

(Typed 24/9/23)

Up at 6.09 for breakfast to be ready for a 7.15 departure for Vosne 1er cru Clos Des Reas – part deux. As circa 2 hectares clearly this monopole isn’t a site one can see off quickly, albeit as someone used to Arlaud’s 5ha of Bourgogne Roncevie requiring multiple visits, to complete Reas before lunch as we did was good going/satisfying. In finishing in Reas our sub team worked south down mid plot then we turned round and worked back towards the village picking the rows nearest to Rue de la Fontaine. At some point in our first pass someone complimented me on my speed (of picking):- “You are fast”. Similar had happened the day before and in all I would receive similar compliments 4x during the harvest – not bad for an old guy missing the last two years. Of course, out and out speed is to a degree irrelevant as it’s a team business with the name of the game to ideally stay aligned across the team for steady movement, grape collection etc etc. Over the Reas wall and across the street are starred names such as Leroy & Mugneret. Further along are the neat, tidy and well-presented premises of Domaine Michel Noellat I remembered fondly from my 2019 & 2020 harvests & where I’d anticipated I might have been this year except for 2023 they are using a Contract Picking Team for the whole of their terroirs. Coming to Domaine Michel Gros this year it slightly amused me to recall using the shower room at M Noellat once looked out over the Clos des Reas – and now I was standing in it !

Whilst making my early way along the row closest to the Reas wall I noted a familiar looking car come past – it was (Mum) Isabel Noellat’s Mini Convertible. An idea formed and as I was well ahead in my row as I came to the gate mid way along the Reas wall I downed bucket, secateurs and gloves nipped across the road and to the door of the Noellat offices. The whole family (near enough) was there including father, Alain, Sophie (now mother of 3 boys after birth of her latest earlier this year), Isabel, and Sebastian’s wife (name escapes me now). We only had time for quick pleasantries and my explaining my sudden, bizarre, appearance which amused but Sophie, as ever the happy, smiley, glass most definitely in the full category personality, told me they were starting (their harvest) the following day. Rushed goodbye’s and I was back thro the Reas gate and back to picking which, with not many vines, was soon done.

Whilst we, the main bunch, were finishing Reas and moving on to the NSG site below the smaller team element were dealing with Echezeaux (this and Richebourg came to the domaine 3 years ago) and NSG Aux Murgers which, with some Aux Vignes Rondes, forms the basis for the domaine’s NSG 1er cru.

Back to us as the main bunch we were once again on foot (another Randonee !) south to NSG Bas du Combe. Interesting site this, a first for me, but sits below 1er cru Aux Boudots which I know well, and liked so much, from Domaine Michel Noellat. After a rest from walking there we worked here for a short spell up to lunch then walked back to the domaine for lunch – all this walking and no Minibus use yet for the main picking group is aiding the Domaine’s carbon footprint !!!!

Ultimately I reckon I would judge the food here for this harvest as the best I’ve experienced (in 14 harvests). Arlaud was pretty consistently good also but I reckon the Gros bought in catering, and chef use to finish off/serve is a great combo. Today, forgetting the entrée, we had chicken, gratin dauphinois, the cheese fixture, and fruit (an apple for me) for dessert.

I was spared the walk back to NSG Bas du Combe as, about to set off, Michel (Gros) called me back and insisted I share a ride with him in his ageing Toyota Land Cruiser. This was to be my transport for most of the vendange hereafter and glad of it/not to be in the minibuses was I. Michel told me he has been a devotee of Toyota’s for c30 years and likes to mention this when visiting Japan promoting his wines. It didn’t take us too long to finish Bas du Combe (not a large parcel) then we switched across the village to make a late afternoon start on Vosne La Colombiere. The view up to the village and rear of the properties along the Rue des Communes (including Gros, Mugneret-Gibourg, and Lamarche) was interesting from here – I reckoned I could now see what the crane in the front courtyard of Lamarche was all about i.e lifting materials etc over the property for what looked, from a distance, to rear extension works.

My sub team had the outside rows (right hand side of the plot looking up it) with the rear of the buildings on the D109 on our right, including that of Domaine Rene Cacheux. Late in the day halt called & once again I was glad of my new taxi status. Curiously, Michel seemed to have taken pity on me even though I was, and felt, fine – something which would continue. I know my gait has changed since my left hip procedure, added to my long time right sided back issues, with one leg longer than the other (common post hip procedures as I understand it). So back to the domaine, and as I’ve always done, I set to intending to wash, or help wash, the buckets when they arrived back but as I was setting out said pails I was admonished by one of the team leaders, a large, formidable, long time domaine servant lady, Odile. She made it quite clear it was her role, with a lady accomplice, and my involvement was unnecessary – fair enough, first time in 14 years, I’ll take that – at least I offered!

There was one final postscript to the day. Whilst the bucket situation sorted itself out and we queued to wash our hands attention was drawn to a hilarious (for me anyway) scene involving a cute little Jack Russell terrier. This animal had already fascinated me, arriving first thing with his owner from NSG, but upright and with supreme balance, with forelegs perched on the owner’s bicycle handlebars, back legs on the owner or similar. Here though the dog was absolutely and utterly fascinated cum obsessed with the water in the drain away shallow gutter in the yard as led to street drain. Some observed the dog might be looking at his reflection in the water (I doubted it given the dirty colour) or biting bubbles in the water was the attraction. Whatever, I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, as the dog was up and down the water channel, nose almost permanently down in the water, oblivious to everything/all around him.

And, other than shower (water still not properly hot/warm !), then evening meal that was it for our second day.
Day 3 – more doggy antics with a twist and amazing vineyard sites all to come.

MdMdlV

rubbish corks…

By billn on September 24, 2023 #degustation

2005 Lejeune Bourgogne2005 Lejeune, Bourgogne
It’s at least a couple of years ago but the last bottle of this was super – a rare 500ml bottling of which, way back when, I availed myself of a whole case. On this particular occasion (bottle), it was obvious that I was faced with a very spongy cork who would most-likely have some ‘dimensional integrity‘ issues – and so it was. A few minutes later, I managed to get all the pieces out of the neck without losing any. How did the cork smell? Well, no TCA – good! – but within the sweetness of fruit the aromas of brett mingled too. I tried to drink a glass – the rest of the wine putting up a good show – but the performance was overly dominated by the brett. I’m far from the most sensitive to this issue – but this was comfortably beyond my personal limits – the wine went down the sink. Over a certain age, it is often said that there are no good wines, just good bottles – well, this was neither of those.
Rebuy – No – hopefully some of the remaining bottles fair better…

A few harvest-finishing wines in Beaune…

By billn on September 22, 2023 #degustation

arlot dujac voillot lignier

Just a simple evening of four winners shared with Marko de Morey et de Vosne… 🙂

1993 Joseph Voillot, Meursault 1er Les Cras
Plenty of colour but not a hint of oxidation. A width of really appealing wet wool, sweet citrus with white chocolate too. Silky texture. The flavour starts direct but broadens with a ripe citrus and slightly chalky impression. Holding with creamy, ripe yellow, citrus – that’s delicious – what a wine – unfortunately my last of these!
Rebuy – Yes

2009 Dujac, Morey St.Denis 1er Monts Luisants Blanc
For my taste the 2007 and 2021 of this were great whites – period – not just great whites for the Côte de Nuits!
Good light colour. Vibrant, wide but there’s also plenty of richness to this aromatic – exotic fruit with a little caramel too but tons of overt complexity. In the mouth the acidity is fine but the fruit is also rich. A wine of power – not to mention 14.5% alcohol too. Time in the glass makes this ever better – the oak still evident from the salted caramel flavour-profile – the salinity ever-more prominent with air. For my taste, slightly behind the ’93 for balance but so complex and still so young too.
Rebuy – Yes

1996 Arolt, Nuits St.Georges 1er Clos des Forets
Lots of colour. The nose is full and shows plenty of bloody iron, graphite and the perfume of the clusters too – this is lovely. Silky, wide, with super acidity but always balanced. A wine that seems to shrink in the finish but then hold very long… Some iron flavour again and lots of complexity. A wine to contemplate and far from an acidic 96 – indeed it’s a beautifully balanced wine – yes!
Rebuy – Yes

2006 L & A Lignier, Morey St.Denis 1er Cuvée Romain Lignier
A width of finer, cleaner, deeper aroma – less exciting today than the more mature Arlot but all the same, inviting. Directly more tannic and acidic than the 96 – there’s a surprise – but this is still fine textured wine and it’s long finishing too with more finishing width than the Arlot. Wiry and tannic, yet deliciously impressive – structurally it’s still something of a baby – I’d happily wait until it’s 20th birthday to try another.
Rebuy – Yes

ICYMI

By billn on September 20, 2023 #in case you missed it

  • A little Clos des Lambrays info
  • Tastevinage – the ‘LAUREATS’ of the 112th Tastevinage Blind tasting are in – here!
  • Each year, on the 4th weekend of October, Auxey-Duresses and its neighbour Melin open their cellars to the public – with a free shuttle bus between the two villages:
    Tasting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., October 21 and 22. You buy a glass for €5 allowing you to taste in all the cellars marked with the “Coup d’Œil, Coup de Cœur” logo. There will be food (and other) stalls and a cooperage demonstration by the Billon cooperage
  • Not a rosé! If you can’t afford the wine of Comte Liger-Belair – what about its rose?

The 163rd Hopsices de Beaune Wine Auction

By billn on September 19, 2023 #events#vintage 2023

163rd Hospices de Beaune wine auction

The 163rd Hospices de Beaune wine auction will be held on Sunday, November 19 2023, in the Halles de Beaune from 14h30. The sale is emblematic of the region and, in particular, of Beaune. The domaine of the Hôtel Dieu covers an enviable 60 hectares of vines, the result of 600 years of donations which have traversed the centuries under this ownership model.

Today was the first of a number of press events for the forthcoming sale, held in the Hotel Dieu itself. Here I offer you some of the vintage notes of Ludivine Griveau – given the geographic extent of her 120 parcels, her insight is first-class:

Vintage Comments by Ludivine Griveau:

“We worked through 12 days of heatwave in this harvest. The heterogeneity is impressive – some cuvées we are treating like those of a heatwave vintage – but others not – even from the same appellation. 12.6° is our starting point up to about 13.4° – all natural. You could even sometimes find rosé grapes but also shrivelled. Right now, I have the impression that I have multiple vintages in the cellar – it’s a difficult vintage to define at this early stage.

“This was the third year of our certification to organic viticulture. Not a conversion to understate with 60 hectares spread over a wide geography and 120 parcels! A year with 11 treatments – which is quite a lot – but only with contact products based on copper and or sulfur. Our treatments were roughly every 7 to 9 days. We plan to label the wines AB in the 2024 vintage.

“The winter was not so cold and it was rather dry – there was a deficit of rain. No frost. Spring was much wetter and cold for April with less sun than average. The summer had a number of storms and 11 July brought some hail – significantly for us in Meursault Les Genevrières. From the perspective of the vines, it was still a little too dry. The vine growth started quite heterogeneous including the flowering that followed too, despite quite good flowering conditions. The growth that followed was associated with a high pressure of maladies – oïdium and mildew – that’s why we had 11 treatments.

“Our harvesting started 6th September in the Mâconnais, finishing the last of our vines on the 19th (today!) in the Côte de Beaune including some St.Romain. Because of the heat, we started harvesting early in the morning and finished early too – we needed a refrigerated truck at the winery to ensure that we could work with cool grapes.

“It’s historically, still a very early vintage. We can say that it’s a vintage with plenty of fruit – this for the second consecutive year. Averagely clean – we did green harvesting in 9 of our 60 hectares – not something we’ve done for at least 15 years in the domaine. Triage was severe – in the vines and then again at the winery. We started harvesting with the chardonnay and it was the whites that got through the harvest-time heatwave the best. In both colours, we had beautiful fruit but also not-so-beautiful fruit – that’s why we had to be so selective. 50 hectares were harvested in just 9 days. The colours and polyphenols of the reds are extracting very easily, such that there are many parallels to 2022 and whilst we had a little more volume of grapes than in 2022 we will make less wine – that’s because of the severe selection and using no stems. Our volume of whites will also be slightly down due to hail in our Meursault Genevrières.

“The ancients used to say that if you have a year with a lot of verjus the year that follows will be generous: We had lots of verjus in 2022 and we clearly have a generous 2023 – but in 2023 there’s very little verjus!”

The Pièce de Charité:
The most prestigious barrel in the sale.

Ludivine confirms that they already know what wine will be in this specially crafted barrel – but they are not yet saying!

This year the barrel is the result of a partnership between the cooper Cadus – producers of 18-20,000 barrels per year – and the family suppliers of an oak from the Vibraye forest – a family that have owned and worked this particular forest since 1510 – almost as long as the Hospices has existed. Vibraye is situated between Le Mans and Orléans. The oaks from this place are being used in the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris where the requirement is for trees with 15.5 metres in length. One (special) tree had a length of 19.5m – it is the remaining portion of this roughly 220-year-old tree that has been used to make the barrel.

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 1 – Sept 10th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 18, 2023 #vintage 2023

Warning:- Some Doggy Porn (clean pictures of dogs !) will accompany this report 😊

Slept pretty well given I’d been travelling for c24 hours to arrive yesterday, then wined & dined. Was up early for breakfast; for me was a routine of coffee or tea, a glass of orange juice, a breakfast bar (3 packets brought with me) and a piece of fruit from the domaine’s supply – mostly an apple. In time-honoured custom one’s drink is from a bowl, odd to one used to English custom. I quickly realised the early morning line up at breakfast, and who got things going e.g. the coffee and hot water, was of senior male team members who mostly worked as tractor drivers and in the cuverie with only two of them pickers – they’ve obviously been together vendange wise a while and sleep etc in a room/rooms over the cuverie. A key group to be on the good side of and share influence. A number of them have fantastic histories of vendange attendance e.g. c40 years – despite not looking old enough. My instant favourite was Philippe, a really nice guy, tall, slim, understated and a former officer in his local Sapeurs Pompiers. We instantly got on well.

Weather was immediately warm, dry and sunny and to get a lot warmer/hotter with cloudless blue sky. As common to all my vendages, post breakfast, there was much milling around cum hanging about, with locals arriving & others not ‘interning’. Then there was the gang of youngsters dossing in the old house at the village end of Clos des Reas. I’d been told the team would be c80 strong but I subsequently tried a couple of head counts & got nowhere near this. Surveying the scene with attendance clipboard, followed by her faithful 10-year old lurcher type hound, Prunelle, and with a word or several for many attendees/arrivals, was office lady, Juliette, who like many of her ilk appears key to the operations and indispensable.

Lined up across the road from the domaine premises and cuverie, in parking area to the front of the almost complete new bottle store building, were the usual for harvest several hired mini buses and 3 or 4 domaine vans of dubious vintage (a couple small, two bigger). But, as word was given to move off this was on foot !!! Wot no transport ??? Reason obvious actually, we were Clos des Reas bound so not far – I was in the front rank and looking behind me was amusing to see the rag tag of the Gros team coming along behind (see photo). En route to Reas we passed, amongst others, the premises of Domaine Francois Lamarche which has a large static tower crane in the front courtyard – hard to see any building work but think this is at the rear of the premises as I thought I could see from another angle a few days later when we were in Vosne La Colombiere. The buckets, cases, water etc. had gone by vehicle ahead of us.

We were actually split into two separate picking teams, one a smaller one which went on their way to smaller sites – on this Day 1 to Clos de Vougeot to be followed by Chambolle. I was slightly regretful to be in the main, larger, grouping but resigned myself that one could be everywhere – and I certainly wasn’t unhappy to be in Clos des Reas.

And so into Reas and sort of upslope if there were a slope – we started on the high side, across from Les Chaumes. A word on vendangeurs/in vine management. M Gros have another variation on those I’ve seen before elsewhere. One might imagine from all the Burgundy domaines that, over the years, a universal way of working would have been arrived at but no ! The Gros method is conventional but, like Michel Noellat, they use small sub-teams of 6/7, within the overall group. The sub-team leader, and maybe a helper, don’t pick but accumulate, and sort, the pickers bucketloads into the usual size of cases strategically scattered along rows from the vineyard tractor before we start. I was intrigued by the sorting as a form of in-vine triage – Gros doesn’t appear to have a formal triage table. Many domaines claim in vines sorting but in my experience, this doesn’t happen or is perfunctory at best. Here at Gros though there is clear and obvious in vines triage and that after the pickers are encouraged to do their own care in cutting and rejection. The cases, once full, are collected by vineyard tractor then taken to a green sward area in the vineyard and offloaded to be collected later by road tractor & trailer, or immediately transferred from vineyard tractor to trailer.

Another innovation I’d not seen before until here are little blue seats on a strut for the pickers which strap to the waist & buttocks ! These were very popular – for me though I was happy to stay with my tried and trusted knee pads. Something that struck me immediately in Reas once we got going was the height, or lack of it, of the vines – very handy indeed if one needed to hop over. Not sure why this is. Featured not quite to the same extent in other vines we were to move to.

We quickly got going, with the morning passing unremarkably, whilst we moved steadily along the vines. Much needed water and rest break after Pass 1. Bending to my first vine, secateurs in hand it felt like I’d never been away rather than having missed 2 years. Lunch seemed to come quite quickly – back to the domaine (on foot !) where 3 small steel wash basins (fed from an outside tap) and soap dispensers were set up in a row for suitable pre-lunch hygiene. The domaine yard area outside the cuverie is quite compact. Lunch was a starter (can’t recall), lasagne, fromage selection (usually Comtes, Rebluchon and Brie) and an ice cream. Without getting ahead of myself the catering here has subsequently turned out to be at least on a par with Arlaud, if not the best. Food, pre-cooked, is brought in from traiteurborguignon.com in special containers then heated up for us.

Back to Reas p.m from 13.30 with, I think, 4 passes completed in the day. Boy, was it getting hot & your writer was perspiring freely. I’d taken Cyprien Arlaud’s warning to heart and worn a straw hat all day. Finish c17.30. Serious result coming back to the domaine as I’d been expecting some gear (buckets, secateurs etc) cleaning but as I went to voluntarily spread the buckets out a large, mature, lady scolded me saying that as a domaine employee (not sure she was to be honest) it was her job to do the buckets – fine by me !!! Things getting better all the time 😉.

Returned to my room for a welcome shower & change before returning to the dining cellar to work on photo downloads, resizing and captioning. A lot to this reporting for Bill lark, time is always at a premium. I didn’t note the evening menu but we never had leftovers, was always a new menu.

And so to bed. Tomorrow unsurprisingly, given its c2 hectares Reas Day 2 to a finish and then more very exciting things !

MdMdlV

2023 Burgundy harvest – 16 September

By billn on September 18, 2023 #vintage 2023

You always know that the end of the harvest is close when domaines start to pick their aligoté – typically a late-ripening variety. And so it was on Friday and through the weekend.

I still met a few hardy folk in the higher vines of Volnay and Pommard – Sur Roches, Lambots and of course, Vaumuriens. Today was Pascal Roblet. He was quite happy with his grapes – ‘Not the vintage of the century, but we have good grapes and they are ripe‘ I’ve long been a fan of his wines and the care whilst harvesting is obvious – only 4-5kg (grape weight) cases are used to collect his grapes – ‘and since 2001,‘ emphasises Pascal. In one of the images you can see him showing that he doesn’t cut the tops of his vines but unlike Leroy or Trapet’s high trellising, he prefers to spread the the lengthening shoots across the top wire of his trellis.

It was quieter in the Côte de Nuits too, the square in front of the Mairie of Vosne – a bustling hub of harvesting in the last days – becoming much calmer. A few blocks of vines were still waiting to be picked – the Chambertin of Rossignol-Trapet and the Mazis of the Hospices de Beaune – but even the traditionally ‘late pickers’ were in the vines. So, right now, the Hautes Côtes are seeing the most action – together with Chablis and Irancy too. A significant part of Beaujolais is already done.

The major efforts are now in the cuveries!

The return of the Mark – Vosne 2023

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on September 17, 2023 #vintage 2023

DOMAINE MICHEL GROS
VENDANGE SEPT 2023 – JOURNEY TO ARRIVAL

Bonjour tout la monde (as one says, en France, in a plural greeting to a number of folk e.g arriving for breakfast) 😊 !

I’ve really, really, missed 2 years away from my spiritual second ‘home’ on the Cote d’Or, since my 2020 Covid related Domaine Michel Noellat vendange, when I was already struggling mobility wise, cutting not a problem, with what culminated with a (self) diagnosis, subsequently formally confirmed, of an osteo-arthritis destruction of my left hip resulting in bone on bone.

May 2021 saw the replacement procedure with my now having a ceramic (’shelf life’ said to be c25 years) joint replacement at the world leading Wrightington, Nr Wigan, U.K. hospital – fortunately near my NW England home. Some might say I’m now bionic – this vendange will see !!! My Surgeon might not approve, but hey ………..

Why Domaine Michel Gros you might ask ? Well, why not ? Teasing aside, having also missed the 2022 vendange at the 11th hour/last minute with ‘domestic’ issues, I was all the more determined to return to the fray in 2023. I won’t bore you with more details, having confidently approached three of the domaines I’d enjoyed working for previously, I encountered various insurmountable problems, consequently, by the time July came around after much ‘water under the bridge/messing around with the above,’ I’d decided I’d have to forget 2023 and defer to early timing in 2024.

Then !! I got an email, perfectly timed in diminishing timescale to get fixed up, with copied Instagram post inserted from Domaine Michel Gros seeking vendangeurs – impressively full terms & conditions re hours, pay, food etc etc included but, crucially for me, no mention of accommodation. Was hugely impressed at the prospect of this starred, solid reputationally, well regarded (and serious) domaine, which ticked all my boxes re vineyards size, terroirs etc etc. Quickly fired off email was equally quickly responded to by Domaine Fulcrum, Key Bureau Lady, Juliette who confirmed accommodation not an issue available and I would be very welcome. Sign Up followed with my sending all the usual paperwork, then readily acknowledged by Pierre Gros as by then Juliette was on August vacances. Intriguingly, sometime around this point I noted a person from Domaine Michel Gros had searched my sad LinkedIn profile – assume it must have been Pierre (maybe fortunately, for nothing more than bits of fun since, and before, my 42 year career 2017 banking redundancy/retirement, I’d added my various vendange employments to LinkedIn ).

So, with joy in the heart at last and after much domestic planning/tasks to cover my absence, Friday 8th Sept saw my early p.m departure from my NW England home in my well packed BMW 340i M Sport Touring for a new to me crossing of the English Channel from Newhaven, Sussex to Dieppe, France – saving mileage & time on the historic drive to Dover – overnight departure 23.00hrs, arrive France Saturday 5.00hrs. Trouble free (for a change) travel on the UK Motorway network saw early arrival into Newhaven and ultimate boarding to be greeted by a ‘buzzing’ French crew, still much excited by the France Rugby Union team beating New Zealand’s All Blacks that afternoon/evening in the Rugby (Union) World Cup. A young crew member was notably amusing with cheeks and forehead marked with the tricolour – superb and very good/nice. Can France now ultimately win the World Cup ? I think they can.

Am not a good sleeper on ferry couchette, airline type, seats hence wasn’t particularly refreshed leaving Dieppe (a new port/town to me). Trouble free route & roads though to Rouen, & managed to join the autoroute towards Paris without incident – so far, so good even in still darkness. Subsequently though, ahem, despite my best efforts, printed off route, and SatNav, I still managed to get lost actually into Paris (a right of passage 😉) rather than skirting it, which I guess cost me c30 minutes, with extrication only ultimately managed by stopping and setting my then manic, after a brain wave, SatNav to Beaune (would not accept Vosne – rude !). In part, passing accidentally through suburb Nanterre as a scene of recent rioting was a bit nerve wracking. But, after exiting Paris without more ado, other than a long & hot drive, punctuated by frequent stops in quiet Aire rest areas due to tiredness, I arrived in Vosne with ‘bad timing’ as it was lunch time ! I cruised Vosne initially then drove out to ‘Aux Brulees’, parked in the shade under some trees and eat part of my packed meals to kill time whilst the French lunchtime passed. I’d identified whilst driving various domaines seemingly having started/or not their harvests- my past associates, Michel Noellat, being one of the non-starters albeit with all the gear set up out front the cuverie on the main road. In truth, I guess I was surprised even post lunch at the seeming lack of Cote de Nuits activity – hum ! Before registering at Michel Gros I ventured to beloved Morey-St-Denis and, without entering, noted from the village premises that Domaine Arlaud were obviously underway. I then drove to the cuverie, noted initially the large extension to the rear of the premises in the last two years, and new tarmac’d car park (!), with my first encounter the irrepressible, supposedly retired, Herve Arlaud. Warm greetings before moving into the blissfully cool (twas very hot outside) cuverie to chat with Mathieu and Cyprien. They’d started the previous Tuesday & were clearly content with their harvest outcome to date – quality and quantity volume. After pleasantries, with Cyprien issuing a friendly, if stern, warning I needed to wear a hat picking – my response I’d packed two – I bade my good byes to the people of this special domaine which will always have a particularly fond place in my heart.

And so to Vosne. I found the domaine car parking without much ado, and crossed on foot into the domaine yard & to the office for my first encounter with the irrepressible, cheerful, welcoming, curly haired, middle aged bureau chief, Juliette. I was quickly shown my room on the 1st floor of an impressive building a little up the street which I gather is also Michel Gros’ home – understand he lives in the basement. I was immediately very intrigued, before we entered the premises, to note ‘my building’ shared a courtyard type area with Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg (home and cuverie) – impressive neighbours indeed (of which more that evening). The building Juliette took me into was notably impressive, several stories, and big in ground floor area, one of the walls resplendent with hunting trophies of Jean Gros (Michel’s father who I gather was quite a chasseur) and including two scary looking and very large Sanglier (wild boar) heads – one would not like to meet either on a dark night, or in daylight even !!! Up a wide, sweeping stone staircase, onto the 1st floor Juliette showed me into the first of two bedrooms, laid out for two, and explained I’d be sharing with the Chef for the harvest, Jean-Michel (yet to arrive). Room looked very good indeed and way the potentially best, most comfortable accommodation I’d had during my various vendanges. Across the corridor was a large bathroom (wash basin only) & loo. At the end of the short corridor, after the other bedroom, was another tight in size bathroom (shower & wash basin). Juliette left me to ferry my stuff from the car, handily off road parking was available across the street, but also showed me the key code entry for the front door – this damn thing was to be the bane of my, and others, lives as it clearly didn’t work properly with one often left, after numerous attempts, ‘twiddling one’s thumbs’ & hoping against hope someone would come downstairs and out of the door or come and join you outside and have better luck at the key code thing doing the trick – all a joke really.

Once I’d lugged all my stuff in from the car and arranged my luggage on the floor for handy access (all the cupboard and wardrobe space was taken by bedding, family stuff etc etc) I was desperate for a shower & change of clothes given it was now mid afternoon & I’d left home c24 hours before with long hot drives & ferry crossing. Another failing here as the shower was teeth clenching, shiveringly, freezing cold !!!! I was just able to stand it long enough to get scrubbed up. Fingers crossed it would warm up in the next day or so (wait for future bulletins !).

Killing time to the previously advised pre-harvest evening reception I wandered down the street to the parking area in front of the Mairie, where the Rene Engel family premises sit in brooding fashion, and opposite the Mairie is the corner house on the northern end of the Michel Gros Monopole 1er cru, Clos des Reas. I’d already learnt this would be/is a vendangeurs lodging, unused rest of the year, and also that numerous Burgundy reference works highlight the Clos, given its nature, is an early ripening site. A handy wine quiz question is name the only Vosne 1er cru Monopole – answer Clos des Reas. Having a quick shuftie inside the property it was clear some occupants had already arrived but weren’t around. I then went through the property, out to the rear, into the Clos beyond. I wasn’t aware at the time but, no great surprise, we would start here tomorrow. A very cursory look at a few vines suggested to this non vigneron, the fruit was ready for cutting & already some burnt grapes were evident- hum ! And, boy, was it still very hot moving into early evening. Walking back to the domaine I met Jacques who seems somehow linked to Juliette. Falling in with each other, we quickly came across an ultra-friendly ginger cat who was happy to rub around us and out with a lot of head scratching – a nice greeting from a local !

Back at the domaine much milling around self- consciously and shyly by an increasing gathering in smart clothes ! It was at this point before the drinks reception action really got going, that some of us were fascinated by activities (they’d clearly started their harvest) in /outside the Mugneret-Gibourg cuverie just across the courtyard from the north entrance to the M Gros dining cellar I’d get to know so well. In time I met and shook hands with both the sisters who seemed a little intrigued at this Englishman in Michel Gros’ midst. They were delightful & seemed very content with their own harvest progress to date.

Eventually we were ‘called to order’ for the drinks reception – red wine and/or cassis. I can’t recall now exactly but there may have been a short speech. It was readily evident that both a number of longstanding regulars were present along with ‘newbies’ like myself (of various ages). I was already fielding a range of very standard questions from many quarters, which kept on coming over the next few days e.g where did I live; was this my first harvest (at M Gros/elsewhere); did I have another job in the UK; why was I working the vendange; what other domaines had I worked for; was it a holiday for me(!) etc etc. Some patience is required ! At some point I was introduced to my room share, a very likeable rotund, round spectacles wearing, character Chef Jean-Michel. As instantly likeable and friendly, and with his employment differing in nature from mine, I was very pleased cum relieved. Curiously, another Jean-Michel (and, despite the name, German) a domaine harvest regular, was to be one of the occupants of our room. JM2 lets call him is a tall, studious, laid back individual, seemingly/obviously widely liked by those working previously and as another plus for me has excellent English.

Post drinks reception we all sat down at a number of tables in the below ground dining cellar for our evening meal with wine (I’ll cover the latter in my next bulletin) post which off to bed to be ready for an early start the next morning. Initial impressions very positive indeed & that I was going to enjoy this a good deal, the odd bit of suffering aside !

Day 1 (shorter detail) to follow with photos. Stay tuned pop pickers !

MdMdlV

Burgundy Report

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