a small bottle download…

By billn on November 07, 2023 #degustation

Wine, that in some cases, I drunk over three weeks ago – so maybe just a few words about each.

2020 Gautherin, Chablis 1er Homme Mort
Hmm, I don’t know what to say – really delicious wine – but since a short bout of covid in September, I’m unsure if I can still spot pyrazines. This certainly had them before!
Rebuy – Maybe

22 Mystery Corton
From a Côte de Nuits producer and it’s not yet bottled – but it’s a beauty – I suppose you’ll have to wait for the reports 😉
Rebuy – Yes

2020 François de Nicolay, Beaujolais Villages
Wow – mega purple! The nose suggests a little volatility – but this is a really delicious drink. Large scale and just soooo good!
Rebuy – Yes

2014 Sylvain Dussort, Meursault Le Limozin
DIAM – so perfect wine. Just a faint suggestion of development and showing a hint more generosity than many from 2014. Complex, spiced – great villages!
Rebuy – Yes

2020 Fleurot-Larose, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Clos de la Roquemore (Blanc)
If I remember correctly this is a monopole within Morgeot – and a very rare one at that!
A nose that needs a little aeration due to some muscaté impression but it becomes clean and powerful. Concentrated, just modestly generous but then a grand finish, complex, wide – really a great finish
Rebuy – Yes

Gilles & Romaine Collet, Cremant de Bourgogne
An old faithful – just delicious!
Rebuy – Yes

2020 Jean Jacquin, Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
Hmm – very tasty – but last time I tasted this there were some pyrazines (see my first note!)
Rebuy – Maybe

2017 Clotilde Davenne, Saint Bris Vieilles-Vignes
Silky, delicious, super wine – as always from here !!
Rebuy – Yes

2019 René Dufaitre, Brouilly Boldness
A magnum. Mainly drunk over 1 evening with friends (after the Collet crémant) – perfumed but with sweetness and richness but retaining a deliciously airy character. The last third of this on day two was already over the hill – so the moral of the story is….
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Clotilde Davenne, Chablis
I’m a little surprised by this – such a high volume vintage but here is rich delicious flavour – a wine that is drunk far too fast. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Daniel Rion, Vosne-Romanée 1er Beaux-Monts
A wine that has only just been subsumed into the domaine of Michèle & Patrice Rion
A shy nose at the start but one that opens with clean, far from mature, aromas. This sits beautifully in the mouth – if anything, still a young pup. The finish impresses but on this performance it is a wine that I will wait for.
Rebuy – Maybe

2020 Alexandre Parigot, Meursault Le Limozin
Hmm – that’s got a nice, proper, faintly spiced aromatic. In the mouth this is rather powerful – almost a little burly – a bit 2020 you could say. But there is mouth-watering balance to this power and a very tasty finish.
Rebuy – Maybe

2005 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton-Perrières
This was an impenetrable brute on release – but now things are falling into place. An open, complex nose. Layers of flavour – complex flavour – and a super finish. 2005 Corton – that’s ready? Try this one !!
Rebuy – Yes

1973 Maison Thomas-Bassot, Beaune 1er ‘Theurons’
Friends in town. I had very low expectations – but bottles like these are such fun with friends – however they end up! Most of my early work involved extracting the cork in once piece – in the end it was 2 pieces – but all good! The first sniff seemed impressively positive! What a beauty! Complex, leafy, no bret, tons of red fruit interest and then there was the bpalate; silky, wide, generous. Oh we are being treated tonight. Bravo – a great old bottle!
Rebuy – No chance

2021 Bruno Lorenzon, Mercurey Clos Alfred
A wine of easy aromatics and tasty flavour – that’s about all that I can remember – sorry to say!
Rebuy – Maybe

2009 Ramonet, Chassagne-Montract 1er Clos de la Boudriotte (Red)
This gave a super impression on release though the oak was too overt. 5 years later, the remaining oak was really quite bitter – not nice. Today it has finally turned the corner – the nose is both complex and inviting and the flavours likewise – a suggestion of the oak remains but nothing to deter this drinker. Completely delicious though it’s taken the best part of 15 years. I’m still not a big fan of this vintage but things are beginning to stir in these bottles !!
Rebuy – Yes

2021 Pierre Vincent Girardin, Bourgogne Côte d’Or Eclat de Calcaire
On the winelist in a Meursault restaurant – so why not?
Ooh! Now that’s a great, clean-cut nose – chiselled and chalky – so far, it’s living up to its name! IN the mouth too – direct, minerla and so fine-boned. I don’t care that the label ‘only’ says Bourgogne – this is a great Bourgogne – bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

2021 de Villaine, Bourgogne Rosé de Pinot Noir
Barbie-pink wax sealed. A wine that’s exclusively sold in the French market – I believe.
The aromas are clean-cut and perfumed – that’s a lovely invitation to drink. Juicy and tasty – 4 of us finished this far too quickly – vin dangereuse – ie you may drink it too fast because it’s so delicious!

ICYMI – Les Maladières…

By billn on November 06, 2023 #in case you missed it

In this case, Beaune – but what better representation of a Leproserie than the magnificent building on the outskirts of Meursault. Next time that you eat at Le Soufflot or Goutte d’Or – take 10 minutes to walk around this splendid relic of a building.

  • The Maladière de Beaune:In the shadow of the Grand Hostel Dieu, many other hospitals existed in Beaune. One of the most important was the Maladière, an institution in charge of one of the most feared diseases of ancient times: leprosy.

Featured Image courtesy the archives of Beaune

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 12

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 05, 2023 #vintage 2023

Thursday SEPT 21st

In my out on the street (or in the car) predicament, all of my own making, during the early hours of this Thursday I sort of dozed fitfully on occasion, the night passing slowly until, hallelujah, around 6.00 a.m. I was very relieved, from my car, to see Michel come and open the gates. Too embarrassed to reveal myself immediately, I waited for him to disappear then quickly headed into the yard, to the house, and up to my room to ‘freshen up’, get out of my evening attire, into my work clothes and gather my work stuff before heading to breakfast, cool as a cucumber, as if nothing had happened.

I had a decision to make over my contact lenses (monthlies not dailies) but, as they felt ok I decided to leave them in – and as it happened they were fine although I guess c36 hours wear isn’t recommended. Chef Jean-Michel was asleep when I entered our room hence only later in the day did I admit to him what had happened – he was suitably amused !

Aside from my self-inflicted nocturnal ‘issues’ the big development at breakfast was a hugely relieved Padhraic being back in possession of his bag ! So happy for him. Turned out last evening Juliette had very kindly taken him back up to Au Vallon in her car & they both searched some more and found the bag – in an area where Padhraic and I hadn’t looked as, at the time, he had felt we were looking in the right area as best he could recollect. Where it was found was an area we’d worked on during the morning of the day in question before we moved some way to a different part of the vineyard post lunch. Very good/kind of Juliette to take the trouble to help him & a great outcome.

We were back to Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Fontaine St Martin (‘FSM’) again for the Pinot on this morning which was largely grey, cloudy and overcast although by lunchtime to some extent it depended on which way one looked as in one direction could be lighter cloud and almost blue sky but the other way the sky was a lot murkier. Certainly a lot cooler. We did two passes of the Pinot Noir rows this a.m., our sub team buoyed by Mercedes’ varied music playlist accompanying our efforts, before usual adjournment for lunch back in Vosne. A quality lunch this day as well – boeuf borguignon. Yum !

The afternoon turned out most unexpectedly ! We returned back to FSM with, initially, no hint of what was to come. But, it wasn’t long before storm clouds started to gather quite rapidly whilst we worked, then continuous rolls of thunder started to reverberate across the valley, albeit at that stage without lightning or rain. As it hadn’t rained I was a little surprised when work was aborted circa 3.00 p.m with a call to return to Vosne. Perfect timing though, weather guru Michel demonstrating his prowess cum local knowledge, as no sooner had we got back to Vosne to the point of disembarking vehicles then the rain came, and how !!! Heavy rain of the bouncing variety then continued for the rest of the afternoon.

My taxi service was once again requested as earlier in the day Padhraic had asked if I could take him into NSG as he wanted to buy some chocolates for Juliette as a deserved ‘thank you’ for her invaluable assistance in retrieving his missing bag from Au Vallon. As we drove to NSG I mentioned I was aware of an upmarket chocolatier in the pedestrianised area although my knowledge was dated hence I couldn’t be certain the business was still there. I parked up, staying with the car, in that parking area on the left as one passes through the centre of NSG & the road turns sharply left heading south. Padhraic hared off to find what he was after whilst I watched, in intrigued, curious, fashion two gendarmes dealing with an Opel Insignia and its driver only yards from me. I’ve no idea what was going on but eventually the Opel was allowed to go, the gendarmes following in the other direction.

Success for Padhraic in acquiring upmarket confectionery and a return to a soggy Vosne.

Usual clean up for me, with an infrequent shave, then laptop work either side of dinner. I can’t recall who produced it but a few of us enjoyed a glass of the remainder of the Voillot 1993 Meursault Les Cras I’d brought back from my Beaune soiree. To follow Michel Gros 2010 Clos des Reas (4 magnums) accompanied dinner.

And so quite a relief to be back in bed as normal after my night before ! How much longer had we to go and what else did we have to do ? Questions, questions – no answers for now; and another one – could this be the longest vendange for yours truly ?


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 11

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on November 02, 2023 #vintage 2023

Wednesday SEPT 20th

Back to Au Vallon again today, no hardship for me as, I’ve said previously, I really like this place/terroir – can’t really explain that, just a personal ‘feeling’. Perhaps the key aspect of this day would come in the evening/night but let’s get through the day first !

Initially, first thing, we were back (in Au Vallon) with a difference – when I say ‘we’ in this instance/on this morning I’m referring to the Toyota ‘crew’, but even more specifically to myself and Irishman, Padhraic. My notes are a little vague on when exactly – could have been at some point yesterday, or possibly at breakfast on this day (doesn’t really matter per se) – but Padhraic had had a major, and potentially nightmare, occurrence of losing his bag (rucksack). When I say ‘losing’, it had disappeared and thus all manner of how it had come to vanish were broached and considered. As he was camping in the garden of the Clos des Reas house it was his habit to keep his bag, and valuables therein, with him during the day. His bag was absolutely key for him as it contained all his key items i.e including passport, money, phone etc etc. I really felt for him as the implications were horrendous. At breakfast, or maybe in the car, I’d suggested to Michel that as soon as we (in the Toyota) all arrived before the rest of the team that instead of getting involved in empty case distribution, or whatever, that Padhraic and myself hare off & retrace steps from where in Au Vallon the team had been the day before to search for his bag should it have been left in a row/somewhere. This we did but despite covering quite an area of rows we failed to find anything hence, for our morning (and the rest of the day) the bag, worryingly, remained missing/vanished.

As usual in picking terms we started out this morning by finishing off incomplete rows from the day before. This is an aspect I find were the French, in vendange terms, might differ from, say, the English work psyche – certainly for lunch ! Bit of a sweeping thought from me but I’m inclined to think an English approach (not necessarily to grape picking) might be to finish what had been started and then adjust for time afterwards whereas the French approach (which I stress I absolutely do not disapprove of 😉 ) is a time point is a time point e.g lunch means stop for lunch regardless and to some extent the end of day.

Whatever, after the initial rows we did two more passes that morning which initially I’d thought had taken us to lunch time – I do not wear a watch when picking nor carry my phone in the vines. I was a bit premature though as whilst we had now finished in Au Vallon there was time enough before lunch to return to Fontaine St Martin, this time for our first ‘go’ at the Pinot Noir. Before we exited Au Vallon though I had something of an amusing personal ‘triumph’ in that I managed to participate/help in ‘lugging’ the full cases of fruit onto the trailer behind slow moving tractor. The procedure here was slow moving tractor progressing down the rows of full cases, two guys on the trailer positioning/lifting the cases once on the trailer and two guys following at the rear of the trailer lifting the cases onto the trailer. Thus far as I’ve already recorded on days previously all my keen attempts to assist here had been kyboshed by Michel’s ‘excessive’, (if touchingly considerate) regard for my welfare (and he is 9 months older than me !). Anyway, on this occasion, he wasn’t about initially so I was required and seized my chance. Not too hard at all and a useful workout. A partial victoire !

I didn’t take a great deal of photos today – had already taken quite a few in Au Vallon on previous days such that there was nothing ‘new’ in the morning to prompt camera use. For some reason though today I did pictorially record lunch – although I can’t now make out what the ‘mains’ was !

Post lunch back to Fontaine St Martin, and the laden Pinot vines, the day sunny but cool. The afternoon seemed one of those that was particularly hard and a struggle for me such that I was ‘feeling it’ in fatigue terms by the finish. I had a wait by the Toyota though for the tractor crew to finish which was welcome, time employed to collect water butts, empty them, cups, etc etc and load the car. Not so welcome was Gabriel, by now elevated to piloting one of the tractors, joining us in the Toyota back to Vosne after two of the tractors again overnighted in Chevrey. Goodness me, could he talk, and did he – at volume all the way back to Vosne without pause, fortunately not to/at me !

For the evening I had an appointment in Beaune and with some very nice wines (already ‘reviewed’ on Burgundy Report). A most enjoyable evening but I didn’t really take note of passing time, or potential implications (silly me ☹), such that it was close to midnight when arriving back in silent, sleepy, nothing moving, Vosne. I’d erroneously assumed/thought the side gate on our house’s yard side of the domaine would be open. There are two large vehicle access gates for Mugneret-Gibourg, but at the side of those a small, ‘foot’, gate as it were. To my rapidly sinking chagrin this small side gate was locked, or closed, such that from the road side, I could not get it open. Doh !!!!! I was ‘stuck’! Short of making enough noise to potentially wake half the village, and make myself the most unpopular person in Vosne, and with the Gros family. Nothing for it but back to my car and attempting to sleep in it. At first I tried stretching out on the back seat but couldn’t get to sleep so switched to my drivers seat. I was hugely reluctant to consider reclining this as previously it had taken me much experimentation to get the seat elements to best suit. Reclining the passenger seat didn’t occur to me but would have been an option. At least it wasn’t too cold which was a blessing.


2023 Beaujolais Nouveau – steady as she goes!

By billn on November 01, 2023 #annual laurels#beaujolais

2023 Beaujolais Nouveau

So – how important is Beaujolais Nouveau today?

It may surprise you to learn that in 2022, nearly a quarter of all Beaujolais’ 13,500 hectares of production, ended up in bottles that were labelled Nouveau.

That was 16,500,000 bottles of Nouveau – and that’s a lot – it’s equivalent to 85% of all the production of the Burgundy region from Chablis to the ‘border’ with Beaujolais!

France takes 60% of the bottles but the classic markets of Japan, the US and the UK, together, still bought more than 4 million bottles last year.

That being the case, it’s still worth trying to find some good ones!

The 2023 vintage:

The vine-growth in 2023 started in the ‘new classic’ style – ie quite early and in good conditions due to a mild start to the year. This year, there was hardly any worry about frost and there followed practically ideal conditions for flowering. This early debut of growth, followed by the summer heat, ensured that it was another earlier harvesting year – from about the 1st September – so, versus 2021, we certainly had the potential for nearly an extra month of elevage before any Nouveau bottling got underway – but how, exactly, did the post-flowering year go?

In 2023, the Beaujolais vigneron(ne)s liked to talk about the weather; there’s nothing unusual about ‘farmers’ talking about the weather, right? Of course not! But, as we approached the harvest, there was a clear focus to most of these conversations – and that focus was the rain – or rather the lack of rain.

The crus in the north got a couple of decent rainfalls in July/August but to the south not – here it stayed dry from mid-June right up to the harvest – in fact the further south you went in Beaujolais, the drier it got, reducing the berry size and therefore the yields – unsurprisingly, it was the young vines that particularly suffered in these conditions. The producers point to the counter-balance of the daytime heat with cooler nights – ‘so the wines have a nice aromatic balance – not too warm!

Proportionately, Beaujolais Nouveau is made in higher quantities from vines in the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages as these labels are a little less attractive to Beaujolais buyers than those wines labelled in the name of ‘the crus’ – such as Fleurie or Saint Amour. So it is the wines from the south, whose volumes were most severely limited by the summer drought, who provide the bulk of the juice for these Nouveaux – it was an important point for this tasting.

The best wines…

2023 Beaujolais NouveauIn the the heartland of Beaujolais Nouveau production – ie the south of Beaujolais – the, drought-related, brake on the potential harvest volume has clearly been of benefit for anyone with an interest in drinking this stuff. That’s because any excess volume usually translates into significant quality variation between those who cropped at the maximum and those who were more modest.

2023’s more modest harvest volumes have brought some consistency to the wines – a little like in 2022. The Beaujolais Nouveaux are less regular than the Beaujolais Villages Nouveaux but as in most years the latter category come with not just more depth of flavour – they come with more structure too – and in many cases I’d be looking to keep, and drink, the villages over a longer period than the campaign for Nouveau might suggest.

I have noted a few more great wines (below) than in 2022 but overall, it’s quite a similar number for 97 wines tasted this year.

97 wines tasted – is that a lot? There are probably more like 200-250 different bottlings and/or cuvée names in this category – and good luck to you if you can find some of them in your local markets. I really struggle in Switzerland – and the anonymous (single!) bottling of Switzerland’s Coop supermarket is, historically, an awful one – but I’ll try it again this year – hopefully without needing to pour (more than!) half of the bottle away!

Good hunting!
All the wines were tasted and selected blind. It was only after the tasting that I got a copy of the spreadsheet with the names to match to the numbered bottles:

5 Great wines for their labels
One more than last year:
Jean Loron, Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé
Agamy, Domaine de Solémy Beaujolais Nouveau
Manoir du Carra Famille Sambardier, Dame Nature Beaujolais Villages
Famille Descombe, Granite Beaujolais Villages
Richard Rottiers Beaujolais Villages

10 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais Nouveau
Two less than in 2022:
Jean Loron, Rift 69
Romy, Le Mouflet
Georges Duboeuf
Jean-Yves Sonnery Domaine de Baluce
Domaine des Prévelières
Domaine Pierre André Dumas
Aurélie et Fabien Romany
Domaine des Prévelières, Border’Wine
Baptiste Aufranc
Célia et David Large, Zombi

9 Excellent Wines – Beaujolais Villages Nouveau
Just one more than in 2022:
Domaine Gaget, Vinum Memoria
Georges Duboeuf
Domaine de la Madone Bérerd Père et Fils
Nicolas Boudeau
Domaine des Terres Vivantes, La Lutine
Cave Vignerons de Bel Air, Natural
Château de Corcelles
Domaine Desprès
Julien Aucagne

Click on ‘Read More…’ below to see the full notes for the (almost) 100 wines in the order that they were (blind) tasted on Halloween 2023:
  Read more..

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 10 – Sept 19th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 30, 2023 #vintage 2023

Tuesday SEPT 19th

Pleasingly it had been dry overnight as we had a slightly earlier (by 15 minutes) departure than usual on this morning.

I’ve realised, belatedly, from my words of Monday (18th) after mentioning the overnight heavy rain, and Michel suggesting the Hautes-Cotes would have had less precipitation than Vosne, I didn’t actually address our a.m. working weather conditions. The smarter cum more observant of you though may have deduced said weather from my Monday pics showing cloudy, grey, heavy skies and our attire including wet weather clothing/footwear. It didn’t actually rain at all though during the morning & the day improved as it went on such that we had more and more sunshine through the afternoon in the Au Vallons vineyard and blue skies coming through. So, for the weather first thing in Fontaine St Martin (‘FSM’) the breakfast suggestions from Michel, and the weather monitoring were accurate. The ground in FSM, as heavily grassed, and sloping, meant no particular under one’s feet issues.

There was also another issue/incident from the 18th – this occurred late in the evening when I was going to bed and had me livid, not seeing anything amusing whatsoever, whether the ‘experience’ was a practical joke or not. And I was quite sure I knew which childish clowns were responsible. Chef was in bed reading when I arrived in our room, ready to get to bed. He commonly read on a Kindle or similar reader. I was a little non plussed initially to see some small square sheets of material as one might use for cleaning, and a few used corks, on and around my bed on the floor. I picked these up for intended later disposal. Some minutes later I pulled back my bed’s duvet (I always made my bed in the morning – aren’t I a well trained, good boy 😉) to reveal a scene of disbelief then mounting annoyance which quickly turned to anger, partly through tiredness, as I set to clearing the mess. My bed had seemingly had a waste bin of some volume emptied into it, the contents of which had been lots more used corks plus lots of other detritus of bottle foil tops, bits of foil, beer bottle tops and other undesirables.

Swearing softly to myself Jean-Michel had by now noticed and was almost as unhappy as I was on my behalf. As I pondered how to clear up the mess J-M kindly ferreted in his stuff and gave me an empty carrier bag which served the purpose. I hadn’t actually got around to undressing so, carrier bag in hand, and in high dudgeon, I marched downstairs, across the yard, into the kitchen space where a few folk were present including Michel (Gros) to whom I presented the carrier bag with as many appropriate choice words of French explanation as my vocabulary allowed. Initially, for split seconds, the reactions of those present other than Michel, were of amusement but such quickly disappeared to be replaced by solemn looks at the floor or otherwise convenient places as my anger cum fury was realised. As with the mounted wild boar head my mindset was similarly influenced by the fact that individuals had ‘invaded’ the privacy of the shared room of J-M and myself. It would never have crossed my mind in a million years to do similar – maybe I was brought up differently.

In handing the carrier bag of rubbish to Michel I also made the point of our room being ‘invaded’. To his credit, unsurprisingly as he’s such a nice man, Michel was quite shocked, with his response, such as he could muster given what must have been his surprise at my appearance and state of mind, one of assuring me he would speak with Pierre and see what might be done as to providing a key to lock our room or corridor outside (latter had a door to the stairs). A key was never forthcoming but the matter was never mentioned again, nor was there a repeat, although the following day at lunch as I passed through the kitchen Chef Jean-Michel covertly pulled me to one side and told me he’d had ‘strong words’ with unnamed individuals. All pretty ridiculous – probably a low point in my vendange.

For today, Tuesday, Day 10 the weather had been dry overnight as we headed back to Au Vallons and its views over towards Marey-les-Fussey. The latter is home to a number of domaines but, whilst I’ve driven through Marey a number of times, I’ve yet to stop and visit. I’d be interested in any Burgundy Report readers views on any Marey domaines and their wines. Perhaps the best known Marey domaines for me are Thevenot Le Brun and Joannet.

Our journey up to Au Vallons had us 5 up in the Toyota, Michel and myself as usual in the front but the other 3 passengers included 2 of the tractor drivers. The reason here was that, doubtless due to the distance back to Vosne, two of the tractors had overnighted in Chevrey were Domaine Gros rent a small garage (enough for one open older/smaller tractor – the modern other with cab was outside) from a retired vigneron. So, a quick pitstop for the tractor drivers to hop out and reclaim their vehicles – Michel just waiting until sure both tractors had started up without issue before we carried on.

Once at Au Vallons basically we had the same ‘script’ as the previous day. Initially we commenced in the rows only part done when we exited the evening before and completed those before ‘shuffling’ around the site, uphill and around a corner, before starting new rows. Working on these new rows, which were up/down the vineyard, and long (!), rather than across as previously, saw us up to lunchtime.

Back at the domaine saw the departure, with a final cheery practice of his English, of my laundromat friend, Florient, who was off to some alternative employment elsewhere.

Post lunch back again to Au Vallons and more of the same from the morning. The afternoon was a bit of a slog fest, the grapes not always the cleanest with some rot demanding self triage as cutting, and the rows long. At least it was nice and sunny, without being too hot, with less breeze than earlier in the day – water breaks between rows were welcome ! In terms of drinks I had a nice little advantage here as in not being reliant on the ubiquitous white cups. When working at Domaine Michel Noellat (I think for 2020 rather than 2019) we’d each been given a plastic cup, slightly larger than the norm, but those plastic cups fitted into a black rubber/plastic ring which also had a clip for attaching to one’s belt or similar. I’d ended up with two of these cup things and brought them both to this vendange – they were much envied & very useful. My only puzzle was why all the cups from Noellat (the same) had Gevrey-Chambertin’s St Vincent Tournante branding/stencilling (or similar) on them. I can only assume Noellat somehow ended up with a surplus ‘job lot’ of these cups. I’ll take a photo or two of them for pictorial purposes.

It was good to finish in late afternoon here. My back at base shower was welcome. My evening was again earmarked for ongoing laptop work but I now had my own supply of beers (not to excess) to ‘keep me going’. Our room was mercifully free of any issues.



By billn on October 27, 2023 #in case you missed it

A small compendium of interesting notes form the last couple of weeks:

  • The generous 2022 vintage (around 1.75 million hectolitres, or just over 233 million bottles) has enabled some stocks to be replenished and/or orders to be met pending availability. Export sales continue to grow. Export volumes are down slightly, after a good year in 2022, but remain higher than in the pre-Covid period (2019): +5.3% in volume (first 6 months of 2023 / first 6 months of 2019).
    BIVB Press Conference 10 Oct.2023
  • Within 3 months, nearly 33,000 visitors have passed through the doors of at least one of our 3 sites. Beaune boasts more of 70% of visitors, with a total of 5,000 all told; Chablis and Mâcon attracted around 4,000 visitors each. A large majority of visitors – a full 80% – were from our region or elsewhere in France; and of the 20% of visitors from abroad, a majority came from either Belgium or Germany. The busiest days, apart from the inaugural weekend, were on the long weekend of 15th August and the European Heritage Days weekend in mid-September.
    Also the BIVB Press Conference 10 Oct.2023
  • A short ‘interview‘ with Sylvie Esmonin
  • London’s Bourgogne Week will be held on January 10 at Lindley Hall. “The focus will be on the lesser-known Regional and Village appellations, an important theme that addresses customer demand” – apparently the grand crus no-longer are interesting 😉
  • A new video covering Viré-Clessé

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Days 8 & 9 – Sept 17/18th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 23, 2023 #vintage 2023

Sunday – 17th September
As a non-working day, coming after the extended evening’s Paulee, and being kept awake by excessive, unwarranted noise into the ‘small hours’, I allowed myself the ‘luxury’ of a decadent lie in until rousing myself around 8.00 a.m. My room mate, Chef Jean-Michel, had already disappeared – he’d told me the previous evening he would be going home for the day (I can’t recall where he lived but couldn’t have been that far away).

As Mike (Lange) will note 😉 we are now into week two – I’d actually set up this document ahead of Mike’s post on burgundy-report.com. I suppose the question now, without getting ahead of ourselves or giving much away, is how long will this vendange go on for – keep reading pop pickers (the latter words are from an English radio DJ from the sixties or seventies – am showing my age) !!

Wandering around outside after breakfast I initially watched two of the domaine guys pressing Chardonnay grapes. This was done in a lean to building across the yard from the cuverie. I’d previously noted the press was, perhaps unusually, a German make (didn’t take the details). I took a few photos (no captions as its obvious what’s what). In the cuverie, heady with that smell of fermenting grapes, yeast etc, remontage was in progress. I actually used to get involved a couple of times with Alain Noellat in that process at Domaine Michel Noellat first thing in the morning when there was just the two of us in the Noellat cuverie (alongside the RN74). No need for my assistance/ involvement here – had I indicated any desire cum enthusiasm for such work here no doubt Michel would have ruled such out given his keen desire for my welfare thus far !!!

Clearly, weather wise, a nice sunny day was in prospect. The notable activity around the domaine was in the comings and goings of various folk, working up to what would be their departures. On a pallet in the cuverie entrance were a sizeable amount of boxed domaine wines with various vendangeurs names on in heavy felt tip pen. Further back in the cuverie was another pallet, similarly laden, with my intrigued to note one box had my name on it – yay ! I surmised these boxes were one of two things (or both), namely gift boxes for the departing plus boxes of purchased wines. Have I previously said that some 3 or 4 weeks out from the start of the vendange, and very efficiently, the domaine had emailed all those signed up for the harvest offering a limited selection of 2021 domaine wines at a discount to retail ? I gather this has been a normal practice – as a newbie I wholeheartedly approve and was just regretful I didn’t have deeper pockets for fuller advantage. Had I (or anyone else come to that) been greedy in any request it may not have done any good as the offering emails came with apologies for the limited amounts of wines on offer and limited nature – all down to the reduced quantity from the problem 2021 vintage. For myself, I’d applied for 6 bottles of the HCDN Fontaine St Martin Monopole Rouge and 6 bottles of the Blanc, plus 3 bottles of the Vosne 1er Clos des Reas. I don’t deem it appropriate here to mention cost, sorry. I’d not been asked for payment when submitting my request & had assumed such would be deducted from my wages in due course (as later was indeed the case). To organise all this ahead of the vendange was something I heartily welcomed as I’d always felt previously any purchase requests were a bit of a last minute inconvenience for any domaine in question – this was the indeed the case at Arlaud as asking to purchase then involved one of the domaine staff being pulled off other duties to label and pack any requested bottles. Michel Noellat had a ‘halfway house’ process were lists of available wines were circulated part way through the vendange for ordering for later supply/collection.

The comings and goings of folk had quietened somewhat by mid-morning when, whilst back to working on ‘Bill Stuff’, I was approached by colleague, Florient, who asked most politely (as I had a car) if I could run him into Nuits-St-Georges so he could do his laundry at the laundromat machine at the front of the Intermarche supermarket. He told me he’d tried to do that the day before but the machine was out of order. Florient had joined us in the latter part of week 1, having previously been working at a domaine in Pommard (sorry – didn’t ask, or if I did, note down which one). He is a solidly built, chunky, strong youngish chap, who’d probably fit well into a rugby scrum. He’s a really nice guy though who I’d warmed to from the outset. I gather by trade he’s a painter & decorator, and maybe a builder of sorts. He told me about working on property in Switzerland amongst other places. What linked us from this vendange was his pro-active keen desire to further his English. His grasp of the language was really pretty good, if not better than that, and he was keen to practice on me whenever he could – in a good way (without being anything like Gabriel !). In short I liked him (Florient), and we got on, hence I was happy to oblige his polite request this morning. He was living in the ‘party central’ old Gros house occupied by the younger element at the village end of Clos des Reas & carried all his worldly goods and wardrobe in a humungous rucksack, possibly an ex-military one, which I think he said could carry 40 kilos. In addition to running him there, via a centre of NSG tabac to collect some sort of token for the washing machine, I would have been quite happy to wait for him at the Intermarche and bring him back, rather than have him have to walk back, heavily laden, to Vosne but despite my pressing this offer he would not hear of it so it was a quick run down to NSG to leave him to do his laundry. A number of domaines were hard at it either side of the road between Vosne & NSG – it felt privileged to have a day off !!

On the subject of Florient coming to Vosne from a Pommard domaine this reminds me that it was either the young Italian owners of loveable Acho, or another young couple, who told me over lunch one day that they’d come to Domaine Michel Gros from having previously worked at Domaine Joseph Voillot, Volnay. My informants spoke in glowing terms, & with much enthusiasm, of the experience at Voillot and of Volnay itself. Curiously, and I can’t explain why, I don’t know Volnay very well, even though I own a number of Volnay wines , if at all really and can’t recall ever going up into the village – an omission that needs correcting.

Back from my taxiing trip to NSG I returned to my laptop until what I’ve written down as ‘Slimmed down lunch’. Memory evades here but I think now this was a sort of do itself (no Chef or helper) affair of leftovers for a few of us who were about or working (the cuverie guys). The early afternoon saw more laptop time before a social afternoon trip to Beaune, specifically in Place Carnot with sharing platter watching the dog walkers, posh posing cars, and motorbikes all circling the Place. I didn’t stay too long and back at the domaine just popped my head around the kitchen/dining cave door intending to say ‘hello’ but Michel insisted I sit down and stay for dinner – just the four of us; Michel, Philippe, myself and AN Other. I decided to open/share my newly purchased Vincent Prunier 2019 Auxey Blanc of which we had half the bottle before returning the remainder to one of the 4 fridges/freezers in a small cellar room off our dining cave. And so to bed accompanied by the sound of heavy rain which made one muse, as sleep came, what we’d find on the morrow.

Monday – 18th September
By breakfast/departure time the previous night’s heavy rain had thankfully stopped but everywhere was very wet.

We departed Vosne at 7.45 a.m. our destination once more the HCDN Fontaine St Martin vines and more Chardonnay – to be the last of this, with a difference. Quite a number of new faces had appeared at the domaine gates and in the yard pre our departure, all invariably ‘reporting in’ to Juliette. Amongst the French & other continental Europeans was one Padhraic Duffy – a young (or so I thought), certainly youthful looking & likeable Irishman, ‘fresh’ by train and bike, from his IT Tech job in the Netherlands. I have always preferred to be the only Briton/Englishman wherever I’ve worked, and other than two years from my 14 that has been the case, but I was happy to welcome ‘Patrick’ as he made himself known (for ease) to those enquiring of his name. I was intrigued by his telling me:- a) that he’d seen the Gros Vendange role on the Indeed France job website; and b) that he would have liked to work the whole vendange but Juliette had advised only a second week position was available. It was quite clear to me from the latter point, and having seen quite the number of folk depart after Week 1, that Juliette had, most efficiently as is her hallmark, recruited deftly to cover the domaine days and weeks requirements.

Pre departure, over breakfast, when we’d inevitably been talking of the weather, and I speculated what we might find on the Hautes-Cotes, Michel had surprised me by responding knowledgeably that it would not be so ‘bad’/heavy (in terms of rainfall) as we’d had overnight in Vosne. As I mulled this he expanded by explaining they had a form of rain(fall) monitoring system, if not across all the vines certainly on the Hautes-Cotes. I was subsequently to further learn that this technology (and cost) is shared by a collective of vignerons.

So, Fontaine St Martins’s Chardonnay again. But, now, we were working the last few rows very much at the bottom of the slope of the vineyard, across the boundary of which was a heavily wooded area. The changed terroir i.e bottom of the slope, and maybe the influence of nearby trees, had a dramatic (and unforeseen by me) detrimental effect on grape quality with the lowest rows materially affected by elements of rot and/or odium, none of which we’d seen in the higher section of vineyard on previous days. At one point during the morning our sub team had a bit of a ‘telling off’ from a roving/passing Michel about picking ‘bad grapes’ with ‘advice’ on what we should be doing and how. Consider yourself admonished ! Prior to that the newbies and the originals had been acquainting themselves and for me this included a new, middle aged, lady on our sub team, one Mercedes who, a little surprisingly, hailed from Uruguay and was working various types of seasonal fruit picking across Europe (France, Spain, Portugal et al). Mercedes, who had an engaging line in music playlist via portable speaker from her phone (Bluetooth presumably), was clearly no football fan though and looked blankly at me when I mentioned Uruguay soccer stars, Luis Suarez & Darwin Nunez……..oh well !

Back to Vosne for lunch with my thinking I could finish off, and share with my lunch table mates, the circa half a bottle left of the Vincent Prunier Auxey Blanc from Sunday. Errr, no, the bottle had disappeared (stolen) from where I’d left in the inner cellar fridge. I wasn’t best pleased to put it mildly. Subsequently the following day I spotted the empty bottle amongst all the empty, unmarked, bottles in a recycling cage in the Mugneret-Gibourg yard end of the dining cellar. Thereafter, I marked any bottle of my wine, and my beers, quite clearly with my name & regularly checked such remained in situ. I had a suspicion who might have taken the Auxey but couldn’t prove it.

After lunch we returned to complete work on the Chardonnay bottom rows. Previously, when we’d come down to the bottom edge of the vineyard I’d noticed a small blue box under a wire fence part way along the vineyard boundary and, fresh from my breakfast conversation with Michel about rain monitoring had erroneously assumed said box was related to that monitoring. I was ‘slightly’ wrong in amusing fashion – well, it amused me – as when we gathered pre starting work Michel warned us against touching what was actually an electric fence for keeping animals (wild boar, deer, goats etc) in the woods and out of the vines. Turned out also that Florient had inadvertently touched said wire during the morning, receiving just a mild shock.

Didn’t take us long to see off the final Chardonnay vines which we’d almost completed pre lunch. I’d idly, without applying much thought, assumed we’d move onto the Fontaine St Martin (‘FSM’) Pinot which I’d already noted, when passing such vines on foot, to be impressively laden with fruit, much as the higher Chard vines had been. I was wrong because we embarked vehicles and moved out of FSM but not as we’d entered via the hamlet of Chevrey but instead we turned left towards the top wooded edge of FSM and took a weird, rough tracked, route through the thick woods, emerging onto a wide grassed edge of a new, sloping, extensive site, and an extremely scenic one, with the attractive village of Marey-les-Fussey south beyond the vineyard and across fields on the other side of the vineyard valley bottom. In differing parts of the vineyard the rows went across the slope and in another part up/down the slope This new site I erroneously thought initially was ‘En Vallon’ – close, but no cigar, as its actually ‘Au Vallon’ – which I only realised a few days later & only after I’d captioned all my photos from here with ‘En’ rather than ‘Au’ ☹. Its rather hard to geographically describe exact locations for the HCDN sites and to pick them out. My favourite ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ Burgundy ‘bible’ book doesn’t cover the Hautes-Cotes (or my two editions don’t) which is a pity. The best way I’ve found in identifying the four Gros HCDN sites is via their website (surprise, surprise !) using the maps on the website pages for any of the specific HCDN wines:-
Vineyard of the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits – Domaine Michel Gros (domaine-michel-gros.com)
If one moves the website maps around with cursor, magnifies/minimises as required, and clicks on any of the coloured/highlighted terroirs then the name of that site appears.

We were to spend until late morning Weds here. This was a site I really liked and enjoyed our time here. For much of it (time here) below and to the right of us some way off a harvesting machine was in constant action with its attendant tractors & trailers servicing it. Interestingly, whilst all the Gros vines here were high trained and with wide, fully grassed, spaces between the rows (as in FSM), beyond the Vallon bottom boundary, including the vines the harvesting machine was working on, the vines were more conventionally (as on the Cote) lower trained. If I’d have to have a guess at ownership then I’d go for Nuiton-Beaunoy i.e one of this, just outside Beaune, co-operative’s members. The (all) Pinot Noir fruit here was again volume and for the most part very good quality.

Initially I worked in my sub team of the morning although, curiously, our main man case triagist, one Alex, was nowhere to be seen for the afternoon. We must have done a couple of row passes before, to my surprise and without explanation, Michel (Gros) came to me and directed me to another sub team. I wasn’t too thrilled with this as I’d previously noted this second team seemed rather ‘relaxed’ &, without speed or too much efficiency. I’ll admit my assistance was rather grudging but after we’d finished the row they were in when I joined, then another full one, that was ‘it’ for the day. Tomorrow would see more of the same – with less to describe/write about other than, notably, an unwelcome misfortune for our ‘new’ Irishman.


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 7 – Sept 16th

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


This was yet another varied and interesting day in more ways than one !

In football (soccer) parlance this might be suitably described as a game (or day) of two halves (parts) ! Let’s get into it.

I was up earlier than usual, not sure how I dragged myself out of bed at circa 5.00 a.m., as I was silly keen to have a little time to work on ‘Bill Stuff’. Intent on heading for the domaine cuverie end of our dining cave/cellar to use the wi-fi pre breakfast instead I was thrown off my stride by early morning rain starting to come down. As I’d not dressed for such eventuality I had to return to my bedroom (Chef Jean-Michel sleeping soundly, bless him, a thoroughly nice man) and put on my wet weather gear over my ‘normal’ clothes and change my footwear.

Our a.m destination was a return to the same spot we’d been in yesterday i.e the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Fontaine St Martin Monopole of the domaine. Here, a quick recap to an aspect of yesterday I’d forgotten, but have been reminded of from Bill’s adding my Day 6 words & photos, namely the featuring once again of the unpleasant clouds of flying ants I’d last seen in NSG Les Chailots (see previous words re Day xx). One can make out the insects quite easily on yesterday’s photos – those photos of our arrival in Fontaine St Martin. If anything the clouds of insects were denser than the first occasion – quite nasty ! Fortunately, they only seemed to be in, or above, the open spaces hence once we were working in the rows of vines there was no bothersome issue. Quite weird to have this experience – never seen similar before in any of my previous (13) vendanges.

Back to today – once again Chardonnay, in humungous quantities of grapes, was the order of the day. We were lower, in level within the vineyard, row terms than yesterday. The morning remained, for the most part, as early in Vosne, largely grey, claggy, with heavy low cloud, and some intermittent light drizzle (not enough to interrupt us). Typically (!) it started to brighten up as the morning came to a conclusion. I was, again, ‘taken’ with sight of a Kestrel hovering low over the vines between NSG & Vosne as we returned.

Somewhat to my initially disbelieving surprise our day was done at lunch. Reason ? The evening was to feature our vendange Paulee – not a Paulee in the sense of the famed Meursault one, but more a celebration of the harvest with good food, better than usual wines, speeches, presentations et al. But why the Paulee mid-way through the harvest – we’d only just started on the domaine’s important Hautes-Cotes vines areas (to ultimately last more than a week) ? I never actually asked why but am pretty sure the reason was the imminent, sizeable, changeover in workers. A goodly number of folk were to leave on Sunday and be replaced at the beginning of the following week by new people who arrived in dribs and drabs as the second week progressed. The team which ended the harvest was quite different in make up from the one that started. Additionally, to me it seemed many of those who left after the first week were longstanding regulars, and many the more mature/older individuals. Seemingly they came only for the Cote D’Or work, or maybe they could only spare a week from their regular employments (or a bit of both). I could only interpret the above was the reason for the mid harvest nature of the evening’s Paulee to come.

Ahead of the evening’s entertainment I had the afternoon free. It was interesting how, after lunch, most folk drifted away before returning later. The afternoon was sunny in marked contrast to our morning. Initially I took the opportunity to drive to the NSG Intermarche supermarket for some beers, partly as I fancied some for the coming week and also as I’d been offered a beer or two pre dinner in the week just passed & wanted to be able to reciprocate. Naturally, I took the opportunity to have a look at the wine selection in the store, the Burgundy elements anyway, and picked up a sole bottle of a Vincent Prunier 2019 Auxey-Duresses Blanc to go with my beers. Once back in Vosne I spent the remainder of the afternoon working on my laptop (photos) whilst continuing to enjoy the internet via the wi-fi, following the UK Premier League soccer on the BBC Sport website – ultimately much cheered by The Mighty Reds (Liverpool FC) going top of the table.

As the afternoon moved into evening, I gave myself plenty of time to get spruced up and changed into smarter clothes for the evening to come. I’m always much taken at any vendange Paulee how different my work colleagues can look when they arrive smartly dressed for an evening and I wasn’t to be disappointed here by a particularly notable display from a few of the senior ladies. Before addressing matters sartorial I should outline that the initial part of the evening, the Paulee drinks reception as it were, once we’d all assembled in the yard area, was to take place in the smartened, tidied, and cleared for the purpose cuverie. Down the centre of the cuverie 3 newish looking oak barrels had been placed, on mats, at suitable distances apart, each covered with white cloths, and on which were a number of drinks glasses. Back to the attire of some senior ladies:- they had really made an effort, and “gone to town” in vintage clothing and appropriate accessories e.g smart hats, walking sticks etc. I’m sure there’s a name/term for such dressing up but for now can’t recall it. Whatever, they certainly looked very impressively smart – well done them !

Eventually we were invited to move into the cuverie from the yard and served champagne by Michel and Pierre with cheesy gougères arriving from the kitchen as accompaniments. Both Acho and Prunelle doggily enjoyed themselves moving amongst us in the cuverie and scrounging for the odd gougère or part thereof. All very ‘civilised’ ! I should have noted the name of the champagne producer but, sorry, I didn’t. Michel did mention it came from a friend of his who I gather he might have been at wine school with – I gather they swap wines, something I’ve seen elsewhere, notably at Domaine Arlaud were I was aware Cyprien had wines from friends, Alex Moreau (Domaine Bernard Moreau, Chassagne) and Didier Picq (Domaine Gilbert Picq et Fils, Chablis). Typing this reminds me Michel had, on a couple of evenings the previous week, served us a Crozes-Hermitage Rouge and St Joseph from the same producer – another friend/acquaintance with wine swaps involved – apologies, again, I didn’t make a note of the producer.

Post champagne reception we moved into our dining cellar which various ladies had decorated for the evening. The tables, normally four set up across the cellar, had been moved to create two long tables the length of the cellar. As folk filed in and chose their seats I held back not quite sure, given my newbie first year status, just where I should sit but I was humbled and gratified when both Juliette and Michel insisted on a particular seat for me to solve my quandary. I should have made a note of our menu but didn’t, daft me, but have a vague recollection it may have been traditional Burgundy fare i.e jambon persille, boeuf bourguignon, fromage and a dessert.

And the Paulee wines ? Yum, no disappointment here ! We enjoyed, well I certainly did, Vosne-Romanee Village 2015, Vosne 1er Clos des Reas 2012, and Clos Vougeot Grand Maupertuis 2012. For me it was a close call on my favourite but I reckon, close call though with the Reas, it was the Vougeot which seemed to have a little more of everything. The 2012s were certainly drinking well though, something I’d found at home with a few of my less grand 2012s.

Towards the end of the meal one of the senior ladies, Marielle I think is her name, became a Master (Mistress ?) of Ceremonies, introducing speeches from Michel & Pierre then overseeing awards to Juliette and I think one or two others.

What some idiot left on my bed post Paulee

An enjoyable evening and so, in time, to bed where I’d been provided with a companion. Upside down on the bed was one of the two, very large, mounted Sanglier heads from the entrance room to our property. Some clown cum idiot, presumably a Belgian 20 something child, must have thought it was a good idea cum laugh to put it there. I wasn’t too bothered per se, but more irritated that the joint privacy of the room, Chef Jean-Michel’s as well as mine, had been compromised not least with our valuables in situ. Returning the mounted head to the room below I should then have enjoyed a decent night’s sleep but once again such was not be the case with much noise late into the night emanating from the dining cellar and outside it. Once could but wonder what the Mugneret-Gibourg sisters made of said noise from their courtyard sharing adjacent property.

Sunday would be a non-working, ‘recovery’ day, and as such I’ll cover elements of that with our working for Monday, 18th Sept.


Burgundy Report

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