Beaune’s Domaine Albert Morot changes hands…

By billn on October 14, 2023 #the market

Domaine Albert Morot

For as long as I can remember – certainly 15 years – whenever anyone asked me ‘who from Beaune makes the best Beaune wine?‘ my answer has been unchanging – Domaine des Croix and Domaine Albert Morot.

Of course these are two different styles of winemaking but they are honest and well made – one shows a bit more oak and the winemaking is a bit more traditional – but both offer a wide range of 1er crus and both have wines that sing after 10 years.

I’d heard the rumours from a friend before this year’s harvest but it was confirmed to me when I visited the domaine to taste their 2022s on Wednesday this week; I was greeted not just by Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry (right) – who I’ve known for about 20 years – but also Pierre-Jean Villa (left) of the Rhône – who you may remember from Decelle-Villa.

Pierre-Jean had quit his partnership with Decelle already a few years back but has returned with a bang as the face of the group that has bought Domaine Albert Morot. They promised me a press release for Thursday when the acquisition would become official – I’m still waiting for that but thought it timely to post this.

Geoffroy did the 2023 harvest but hasn’t been involved in the fermentation of these wines – but will remain at the domaine until the end of January.

Pierre-Jean explained “The plan is; you know it’s a domaine only with 1er cru wines, so we intend to have entry wines too – Bourgognes Rouge and Blanc. Apart from from a couple of wines – at least from 2022 – where we will, as was traditional here, bottle before Christmas – the rest of the wines will get longer elevage with bottling in the Springtime.

I believe that they are already planning updates to their marketing image/labels etcetera and we will see where this leads. I wish luck to all…

When I have their communiqué I will update these details

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 6 – Sept 15th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 12, 2023 #vintage 2023

Domaine Vendange Team1


Appreciate these are (to be) the words for this Day 6 but I’ve realised I’ve forgotten an aspect of the late evening of yesterday (Day 5) hence, rather than provide such words to Bill, and ask him to edit/add to the Day 5 document he already has, I’ll cover off such here before we get into this day’s events proper.

I’ve already recorded my working (on my photos and diary words) into the evening of Day 5, gaining use of the domaine wi-fi, and intent to have a late evening on the aforesaid work. Whilst busy at my laptop on one of the kitchen tables though I was regularly interrupted (in nice ways) as the evening went on, by entreaties from a number of my colleagues, to stop what I was doing and join the others watching the World Cup Rugby:– France versus Uruguay. Such invitations were very tempting, particularly given the venue (see below !) but I was determined to get on with my work and looked forward to ultimate peace and quiet; as well as being able to follow any evening’s football via wi-fi. As the evening went on though, and fatigue increased, the prospect of watching the rugby socially in an attractive setting, with a suitable drink, became compelling such that I eventually gave in to myself, packed up, and set off just up the street to join the others for what would be the second half of the game.

The venue for the rugby viewing on TV was the stunning building/setting of Comte Louis Liger-Belair’s new(ish) La Cuverie de Vosne ( ). The incredible looking building is essentially next door to Domaine Michel Gros and Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg and I could see the top of the La Cuverie building over the rooftops from our bathroom. I’ve no recollection now what used to be on the site of the La Cuverie building previously and not sure how long it’s been open. I was last in Vosne of course for the 2020 harvest with Domaine Michel Noellat but don’t have any recollection of La Cuverie then – I guess maybe it was a building site ? The venue is all of swanky, posh, striking, attractive, high end looking and many more such adjectives as one might come up with. Some guests were sitting at outside tables as I approached; inside was pretty full, on the TV side of the bar area any way. My colleagues, in previously trying to persuade me to join them, told me they had booked some of the tables/space some days earlier. I settled myself comfortably at the bar (on a free stool) with a good view of the TV and got myself a beer (just about the most reasonably affordable drink in the place !!!). Initially I was happy to watch the game and whilst France ultimately ran out comfortable winners I was quite impressed, and not on my own, with the performance of Uruguay. A second beer further lubricated my evening but as the game wore on I further ‘amused’ myself by studying the comprehensive and highly impressive wine lists. If one wants to feel impoverished, and marvel at the heady prices to which (some) Burgundy wines have reached, then studying the La Cuverie lists and looking at the wall mounted bottles should do the trick ! I believe one can also stay at La Cuverie ( 3 suites ?) and had already noted in recent days the high end cars populating the few La Cuverie parking spaces across the road from it. Someone told me the venue was a project of the wife of the Comte – whether that’s true I’ve no idea. What level of success, profitability, etc it might enjoy over time I guess time will tell – I’ve no idea/am not sure ! It’s certainly highly impressive from many angles & I enjoyed the ‘distraction’ of the rugby, my beers and the ambience.

As a quick corrective aside, whilst on the subject of sport, I’ve realised I made an incorrect reference for Day (or rather evening) 5 before someone ‘pulls me up on it’ in suggesting I’d been following LASK v. Liverpool FC on the internet – getting ahead of myself this was actually a week later !

Dawning of Day 6 prompted me to think how quickly the days had already flown past to this point. Getting ready for the day, breakfast etc was now a usual routine. Whilst we congregated at the domaine’s gates though I heard mention of Gevrey-Chambertin and asked if I might join the team heading there as an alternative to returning to Boncourt-le-Bois. I wasn’t on my own though as the usual small team which had operated in other terroirs was bolstered by others in addition to myself.

My experience of working in a Gevrey terroir ‘proper’ (other than Bourgogne Roncevie) has been with Domaine Arlaud in their Gevrey ‘La Justice’. Today though was somewhat different as we headed for Gevrey ‘La Platiere’. This terroir is on the Morey side of Gevrey, quite some way east of the D974, and below ‘Croix des Champs’. We turned off the D974 onto a road on the north side of ‘Croix des Champs’ (with Creux Brouillard on the other side of this road) and continued down some way on the flat lands until turning right on to another road & as far as an industrial ‘shed’ type building where we parked up & dismounted.

The Gros domaine website describes ‘La Platiere’ thus:-

This parcel called “La Platière” is located in the alluvial cone which is located downstream of the Lavaux valley, a mixture of silt and limestone alluvium carried over the millennia. This subsoil is present in a large majority of the village appellation Gevrey-Chambertin and gives wines that are both supple and deep, of high quality for simple “village” wines.

From my perspective the location was very flat, not particularly scenic, the earth quite heavy, and the rows (we were to pick towards the D974 to a grassy ‘interruption’ area) quite intimidatingly long, albeit short compared to those at Boncourt ! I can’t recall now but am fairly sure we must have at least doubled up in the rows. The grapes I experienced, whilst of decent quantity & largely ‘clean’, were mostly smaller bunches than seen elsewhere previously. We weren’t on our own as one or two others domaine teams were also in the vicinity. When we came to complete the rows Acho amused me by running enthusiastically to another of these domaine teams – am sure he must have thought we were linked ! We finished early here, in a lunch context, at c11.30 and coincidentally the rest of the team had finished at Boncourt similarly such that we all more or less arrived back in Vosne together. The temperature had risen as the morning went on – it was hot getting back. An early lunch was decreed to result in an earlier than usual departure set for 13.15.

Lunch was notably interesting as our outside caterers had provided Perch (as in the small coarse fish) for our main course – an interesting & unusual choice (for me anyway). I can’t recall now what the fish were cooked in, or how, but the portion size allowed for several of the small fish – and very tasty they were too, bones not an issue. Recalling this meal reminds me we’d had another not so common choice last evening – which didn’t go down too well with everyone. The caterers certainly seemed to be using their imagination to vary the offerings but Thursday evening saw Andouillette served up as a main. I’ve heard, and read, a lot about Andouillette over the years – not all good (!) – thus approached my portion with some wary apprehension. It certainly looked ‘different’ albeit not to be studied too closely! Taste wise though it was fine such that I polished mine off happily. Wouldn’t be a first choice again though !

So, that was our morning gone and, whilst I didn’t realise at the time, that was the end of our Cote de Nuits work. When I’d first ‘signed up’ with Gros a vendange timetable had been suggested with week one given over for the Cote de Nuits terroirs, then a very civilised sounding weekend break, to be followed by the second week in the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits. The domaine broadly splits down its c23 hectares to 11.5ha on the CdN with approximately the same in the Hautes-Cotes (the latter including the domaine’s white grape vines).

M Gros Heavyweight Tractor Division arrive at HCDN site

And, yes, our post lunch departure, preceded by the domaine’s three (non vineyard type) tractors with trailers, setting off well before us given the travelling distance, was for the Hautes-Cotes but immediately before we all left Juliette quickly mustered us all at the street gates of the domaine for a group photoshoot using her phone – seizing the opportunity I joined her, standing a little behind, to grab my own camera shots. I was a little nonplussed at why the group shot at this juncture but subsequently realised in the coming days that, given we‘d see so many personnel changes after this first week, that the first week group was being photo’d before the material changes in team make up which occurred going into week two.

Having personally become more and more interested in the Hautes-Cotes in recent years, and always (for the most part – 2013 being a horror exception) enjoyed working there I was really looking forward to this. Our route was a clever one, initially at least, doubtless chosen to avoid the pesky delaying set of traffic lights coming into Nuits-St-Georges, as we left Vosne to head through the vines with Clos des Reas on our left, and zigzagged in convoy through the vines to the western residential edge of Nuits-St-Georges were we went through a small estate of houses onto the Rue General Brosset which, in turn, led to us turning right onto the D25 Route de la Serre away from NSG towards the Hautes-Cotes. Our route bordered the Le Meuzin watercourse, took us past the La Gentilhommerrie hotel/motel and, climbing all the while, still on the D25, to the very edge of Meuilley, where we took a 90 degree left onto the D115 Route de Beaune but only for a few hundred yards before turning right onto a minor road and up into the attractive hamlet of Chevrey, not far from Arcenant. Keeping left without entering Chevrey proper ultimately saw the road become a track which brought us into Gros’ HCDN Fontaine St Martin Monopole an extensive vineyard of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – all high trained in atypical Hautes-Cotes ‘style’. In addition to the high training the widths between the rows were considerably wider than one might atypically find on the Cote, doubtless to allow for larger, non-vineyard, conventional tractor access.

Very impressive and with fabulous, almost jaw dropping, beautiful views over rolling green hills, lush wooded areas, scattered hamlets, and what looks to be increasing vine plantings in the area and on the opposite hills. The nearest clue of where we’d come from was the distant sight of the long-time high masts (radio, TV, mobile phone ?) on the hills above Nuits-St-Georges which I was now looking at from the rear as it were. Michel and us in the Toyota had led the full team complement in 3 rental minibuses and 2-3 domaine vans. Henceforth there would be no small team group hive off to other sites. Our work for the mostly very pleasant, weather-wise, afternoon was the higher sections of the domaine’s Chardonnay. And wow, wow, just wow – what incredible grapes we had here. I can’t recall seeing anything like these – maybe Arlaud’s HCDN Chardonnay in a good year but the Gros vines here were carrying a serious weight of fabulous fruit.

The Gros approach to picking here took me by surprise & was not something I’d anticipated. Both at Arlaud and Michel Noellat the picking approach on high trained vines in the HCDN had been the same i.e two vendangeurs to a row but one on each side i.e opposite each other. For both of those domaines though the rows had been quite short and upslope whereas here the Gros vines were along the slope and much longer in section. As such we were paired two to a row, leapfrogging each other from post (piquet) section to post section. The sub team triage folk were situated, with the empty cases, in the centre row of those rows, four or five, the sub team were working. When your bucket was getting full, and important not to have it too full or you risked admonishment for it being too heavy, one shouted, or called out loudly, “pannier” and put your bucket under the vines for someone from the triage folk to pick up/swapping with an empty bucket for you to continue with.

This crazy Wild Man of Burgundy (not Borneo !) joined us today & boy could he talk!!!
At first, all seemed to me fabulous, and I was keenly looking forward to the afternoon but, unfortunately for me, I had the ill luck to be paired with a newcomer who’d arrived that morning, one Gabriel – an unusual individual in many ways. I’ve photographed him with caption “Wild Man of Borneo” before I knew him by name as his appearance was as distinctive as what turned out to be his behaviour. He was a local, from Dijon, probably in his 40s or 50s (hard to tell) and actually seemed to have quite a very decent, if not impressive, grasp of English albeit he had a very ‘heavy’ accent that made it hard to pick out what he was saying on occasion and needing to politely ask for a repeat. He had an extensive, unkempt, beard; heavy handlebar moustache ; long, platted, almost rasta style hair; and wild eyes. The distinctive appearance was fine, each to their own, but what was a ‘killer’, and I was to experience quickly and first hand, was that Gabriel just talked very quickly, and continuously, all the time, without stopping or seemingly drawing breath – honestly, I’m not joking. In all my 66 years I’ve never come across anything quite like it. He was also it seemed, a self ‘taught’ expert on anything and everything. His particular subject of choice with me, although he must have covered pretty much every subject under the sun in his verbal barrages, was English Royalty and specifically the visit of King Charles III and Queen Camilla to France (initially Bordeaux) which was either about to take place, or taking place. I’m no Republican in terms of Britain’s mode of government/royal family but equally I’m not overly interested in the day to day activities of the Royals – here I was at extreme odds with Gabriel who seemed utterly fascinated by Charles – unless that was on my account. I swear, in tackling our lengthy row of Chardonnay, he never stopped his rapid fire non-stop talking once, not once, quite incredible. He wanted to know all about me (fair enough to a degree) and quizzed me on anything and everything whilst telling me all about trips he’d made to London, Ireland on a bike (Galway/Connemara), etc etc. At one particular juncture we somehow got onto the subject of Chablis. Ignoring my mentions of visiting Chablis Gabriel proceeded to tell me all about Chablis and give his expert opinions on it. By the time we got to the end of the row I was, honestly, reeling from the verbal ‘assault’ & efforts to listen/remain polite; my head was spinning and threatening to start bouncing. Post end of row completion rest break for the next row somehow I managed to pair up with someone else and leave another unfortunate to benefit from Gabriel’s extensive wisdoms. Needless to say, we were to have, or rather hear, a lot more from Gabriel who, perhaps unsurprisingly, soon ‘engineered’ himself away from mere grape picking and by the end of the harvest, and goodness knows how he managed this, maneuvered himself into a tractor driving ‘gig’. This was quite convenient in some respects as he largely only had himself to talk to in the tractor cab.

Unusual characters aside, this was a highly enjoyable first afternoon on the Hautes-Cotes and with the incredibly impressive Chardonnay. Finish came circa 17.00 hrs with a lengthy return to Vosne the way we came, the Toyota gang leaving last as usual, albeit we were not the last back at the domaine, passing one of our slower tractors en route. Moving on from the Andouillette and Perch our supper this evening was some super Rosbif !

The rest of the evening for me the usual photo work then bed. Tomorrow would bring a return to Fontaine St Martin but with another (unwelcome in part, if not result) change in the weather, leading into, for me, an unexpected evening.


Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 5 – Sept 14th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 10, 2023 #vintage 2023

(typed 5/10/23)

A welcome clear early morning start to this day weather wise from yesterday but, as initially cooler, and maybe influenced by the day before, I layered up a bit under continuing to wear waterproofs – the Englishman in me I guess !

As it happened the day brightened considerably as the morning advanced such that I was soon peeling off cagoule, fleece etc.

Another day, another new terroir, this one quite at odds with our altitude yesterday. The only ‘common’ feature was Nuits-St-Georges but this day we travelled south of NSG for the only time, to the village plot of NSG ‘Les Chaliots’, below NSG 1er cru ‘Les Poirets’ which, in turn, has ‘Les Perrieres’ and ‘Les Poulettes’ above it. Quite a bit of other domaine/maison activity all around us today. Without doubt the vendange was in full swing in this part of the Cote.

Quite, quite different understandably to our high on the hill previous experience north of NSG. The ground of ‘Les Chaliots’ was still wet and with heavy, clay type soils – in due course this would be the first day of needing to rid one’s footwear of glutinous sticky soil via such as scraping on row wires, posts etc. I can do no better descriptively than quote from the domaine website re this terroir:-

This name derives from the word “CHAILLE” which means small stones.
This “climat” in the southern part of Nuits is planted on an alluvial cone, which indicates a large presence of stones. The soil is clayey, poor in limestone and contains “chailles”, a kind of reddish flint, rich in silica.
This very special type of soil has encouraged us to make a separate cuvée which characterizes by an abundant minerality, a very pure fruit expression, a quite strong acidity and a powerful body, which give it good aging qualities.

For some reason initially I felt somewhat lethargic, making a slow start. Early on in proceedings Michel passed by me in my row and volunteered, without any question or prompting, that Les Chaliots had the oldest vines in the domaine – interesting indeed albeit doubt I would have noticed without such advices. Always supa interesting to be with Michel as invariably he would provide some nugget of info appreciated by the likes of me. I’d like to believe he appreciated my wider interests in the terroirs, vines, etc etc were much more so than my colleagues. Hard work this day with, again, plenty of grapes in terms of quantity and with good looking quality from the lengthy rows. This was my first day this year of personally experiencing white grapes amongst the Pinot Noir – I believe Chardonnay. Not uncommon at all as I’ve experienced this before in other vendanges – I believe occurrence can stem from a Nurseryman (Pepiniere) inadvertently supplying the odd ‘wrong’ vine in a batch. A little extra care needed I find with moving from Pinot to unexpected Chardonnay when one has been used to the former, and particularly if strong sunlight is coming through the vines. For me, Chardonnay bunches can have an unwelcome ‘ability’ to hide behind foliage such that one can almost ‘guarantee’ if you don’t remove enough, appropriate, leaves then a bunch of Chardonnay grapes will remain there lurking ! I recall the first occasion coming across a Pepiniere was on a visit to Domaine Denis Bachelet, Gevrey, with my late father many years when said gentleman arrived during our visit – from ageing memory he was from some way away – might have been Jura, Savoie or similar. I recall also my father being fascinated by the conversation between Monsieur Bachelet and his supplier.

And so to the welcome lunch break for more nice meat and veg. Chatting to others I learnt the smaller team element had been to Morey-St-Denis that same morning to work the domaine’s Morey En la Rue de Vergy vines. Disappointing personally as I’d hoped to experience that plot but, hey ho, once can’t do everything. I finally, after lunch, managed to grab a moment with Juliette in respect of the domaine wi-fi with just enough moments to log in with my laptop for the first time. Knowing access to the office (bureau) for me would be an out of hours issue Juliette helpfully volunteered the range of the wi-fi was such that I should be able to connect from the near end of our dining cellar just across the yard and down the steps from the bureau – impressive. This was indeed the case as I was to find out, and very welcome, not least that evening as I was able to follow, online, via the BBC Sport website, Liverpool FC’s away win at Lask, Austria.

Post lunch back again to NSG Les Chaliots with by now it quite hot. We cut right down to the D (RN ?) 974 and, at odds with my slow start first thing, I felt I was cutting well here such that finishing my allocated rows strongly I was able to assist elsewhere. In my later notes (always tried to scribble brief thoughts re the day that same evening) I’ve written “frustration with pannier” – now I can’t, for the life of me, recall what I was referring to here doh !!!

I didn’t take many photos during our time in NSG Les Chaliots – no particular reasons other than being busy and/or it never really struck me there was much notable to photo – sorry !

Around circa 16.00 hrs we moved off to another new site. Before we did so, or specifically at least before the Toyota Land Cruiser crew did so, we had the unwelcome experience of some clouds of flying ants bothering us, initially me specifically as I waited, alone, by the car for the others to join me after collecting the full cases of grapes. If there was a (minor) downside to being a part of the Toyota crew (wasn’t a downside for me at all but welcome) it was we were invariably last away from any site hence if, at the end of the day, one wanted to be quickly back to the domaine, then one didn’t want to be a Toyota passenger, with owner/usual driver Michel always keen to oversee full case collection and fastidiously make sure nothing, including litter e.g. empty, used, drinks cups was left behind. One of Michel’s ‘oddities’, in a very nice way with yours truly, was he was at pains to exclude me from full case collection from rows onto tractor trailer – which I tried to help with several times. Again, this played for me to the impression I might be giving in health, posture, fatigue terms etc etc despite feeling A1!! In the end, after several such rebuffs I gave up, albeit was to have my moment on one occasion the following week. The plus factor in having to wait by the Toyota though for me was that brief welcome time alone whilst waiting for the others – invariably I’d use the time for photos and/or to collect the water ‘barrels’, empty them (if end of the day), and other stuff such as the cases holding drinks cups, clothing and ‘what have you’, loading the same into the rear of the SUV. In all my previous harvests I’ve never experienced the most unwelcome small clouds of bothersome flying ants as occurred here – they would feature again on another day. No idea why they featured this year and what would be quite differing locations.

Once we’d done the necessary in ‘Les Chaliots’ we moved off to join/catch up with the rest of the team. Our route initially puzzled me no end as we went into NSG then out of it on the D8 & over the main, busy, railway lines, towards the Autoroute. But, before reaching the latter, we turned left (roughly north) onto the D116 which took us past the Stade Jean Morin sports stadium (which had a very large travellers presence adjacent with some watchful Gendarmes present), then heading into the countryside before turning left past the Chateau de la Berchere hotel (a new one to me) onto the D109G then, heading back towards the railway lines, past the Aerodrome de Nuits-St-Georges. Shortly after passing the aerodrome, still in open countryside, realisation dawned on me we were about to arrive at the ‘below’ the railway lines large plot of vines at Boncourt-le-Bois I’d experienced before in my two years working for Domaine Michel Noellat. I’d had no idea Domaine Gros also had vines here (classification Bourgogne) – the Gros rows were somewhat further from the railway than those of Noellat. All made me wonder how many other Vosne (or other village) domaines had vines here in this quite extensively planted area (of both red and white varietals).

The rows here at Boncourt, stretching roughly north, were massively & dauntingly long – without doubt the longest rows I’ve come across and not really what a tiring vendangeur wants to see late in an afternoon !!! Apprehensively, I waited with interest to see how Michel and his lieutenants set us up here. Initially, a group of individuals were sent off on the long walk to the far side of the vineyard from us to start working their way back – probably not more than say 7/8 rows so covered. For the rest of us we were put 3 to a row (so with the far group 4 individuals to a row) to ‘leap frog each other working a section of row from one piquet (stake, pole) to another – a common way of working with more than one individual to a row. On this basis I was quite relieved and conscious we wouldn’t, given the time of day already, be here too long then I was quite happy. The vines had a mega weight of clean grapes here such that one was filling one’s bucket (pannier !) quite quickly. I can’t recall now if time allowed for us completing the row in terms of meeting the individuals working towards us – but I think we did. There would be a return to this site to complete it the following day but not for me as I wangled an opportunity elsewhere !

With a halt ultimately called the minibuses/vans departed leaving me alone for a while at the Toyota, my colleagues remaining dots in the far distance collecting full cases with two of the tractors. Eventually we made it back to the domaine by 18.00 hrs by which time I was feeling very, very tired – must be getting too old for this malarkey 😉. My pre supper shower was most welcome and once ready for the evening I took my laptop, and before settling down with it in the kitchen, tried the wi-fi connection standing outside the locked bureau – eureka, a good, immediate, connection.

Before finishing this piece I’m conscious I’ve not yet (without checking back) mentioned, or said much (if at all) about wines – an inappropriate omission ! So, what did we drink ? Well, three routine drinking occasions existed – lunch, pre-supper/dinner, and supper/dinner itself. For the first two of those occasions, throughout the harvest our drinking/consumption was of the same wine – pre-supper presented also with bottle(s) of cassis if one wanted to mix – I didn’t, not that I have anything against cassis but if I’m to have it I’d want to mix with white wine, preferably Aligote. This ‘common’ drinking wine was, for me, an unusual one of a kind I’d not come across before in other harvests at other domaines. It was initially explained to me by Pierre Gros and, if I understood correctly, the wine was derived by taking the final ‘matter’/waste from the wines proper (red and white) after one or two pressings, and then pressing that stuff again to produce the vin de soif (my term). When I first tried it, on Day 1, before understanding what it was, my initial impression/thoughts were I might be drinking a Passetoutgrain or similar. Whatever, it was a very acceptable drink and well suited as lunch/aperitif refreshment. Evenings, dinner wise, from the start Michel would select specific wines from the domaine cellar. I should have recorded these nightly but apologies for not doing so. Invariably, and initially, these selections would be a village classification domaine wine such that I believe we soon went through the range of the likes of NSG, Chambolle, Vosne, Morey & HCDN Rouge before we did move on to much appreciated likes of Clos des Reas, Vougeot etc. Most wines were 2021 but we did have a number of 2012s. Of the village wines over the first few evenings I particularly recall the Chambolle as a standout yum ! Curiously perhaps, typing this now, I realise that, other than the to come Paulee (to be covered idc) we never routinely of an evening had any domaine white wines – despite such existing via the domaine’s HCDN Chardonnay. I did ask a couple of times during the vendange, albeit never of Michel or Pierre, if the domaine had any Aligote & was always met with a negative ‘Non’ – in line with the domaine website having no mention of Aligote.

The evening closed satisfactorily other than towards the end of dinner the infantile Belgians table loudly & for some time continually chanting the name of Manchester City midfielder, and Belgian international, Kevin de Bruyne. Whether this was aimed at your’s truly as a Liverpool FC fan I’ve no idea but cared even less !

Tomorrow, our Day 6, would be a key one for our vendange – watch this space !


Another ICYMI – high priced wine-ethics

By billn on October 05, 2023 #in case you missed it

This is a tough one, isn’t it?

I always review wines in the same way – is this a great Bourgogne? Or is this a great grand cru? I never tell you that a particular wine is worth a special search unless it is on another level to ‘the average’ – even ‘excellent’ doesn’t cut it! Despite that, over the last few years, the cuvée of Romanée-Conti has consistently got my thumbs up – even at the latest price. From memory, the 2020 was close to €3,000 a bottle – assuming you were allowed to buy even a single bottle from one of the official importers.

The (grey) market price for that bottle is already 4-5 times the initial purchase price – and who knows the price in a restaurant! Because 500 cases for the whole world are clearly insufficient to meet the clamour to buy.

In a different life, I have bought and drunk Romanée-Conti, I think the 2000 vintage cost me only 800 Swiss francs or roughly €500 at the time – but my earnings allowed me to do this. Today, even the entry price is beyond my personally imposed buying limit – but, given my age and the ‘above average’ size of my cellar, the volume of my personal purchasing has shrunk to such an extent that I’m, anyway, no longer on the list of ‘allowed’ buyers.

Now we come to the use of the word ‘ethics.

When I recommend wines, it is done so purely with quality in mind. Simply put, that’s because everybody’s concept of value is different – you cannot have a benchmark yes/no ‘value’ for wine for people of different backgrounds – even when a bottle may cost more than most people pay for a car! Ethics is a barbed word and it implies yes/no or black/white – and life is not a binary choice. Describing drinking Romanée-Conti as unethical would suggest that the search for the best (in any walk of life) should be cancelled. So what then of the vineyard? Should it be uprooted? If so, does that mean that Musigny or La Tâche would be next? The logical extension of this would be that Burgundy should blend everything and only produce Côteaux Bourguignone…

The search for the best in any endeavour is costly, be that cars, watches, HiFi, computers Hermes bags – you name it – and yes, wine. In all things, it is about personal choice. I have my own – personal – rules but ethics is an unhelpful word – it is one to avoid…

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 4 – Sept 13th

By Marko de Morey et de la Vosne on October 04, 2023 #vintage 2023

Wednesday – typed 02/10/2023

This was a very interesting day I thought – in retrospect; but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I wasn’t in the best of moods initially, having been kept awake past 2.00 a.m. by the noise made by the blasted Belgians. The morning dawned grey, with heavy clouds, temperature much cooler/fresher, although it was still warm, with everywhere very wet, although the rain had stopped. Initially, before heading to breakfast I went to my car for my rubber boots (new for this year green wellingtons) having already taken out from my luggage my waterproofs (cagoule and over trousers), rubber gloves and my latest knee pads – a heavyweight looking pair from De Walt which turned out to be great as they have two loop type fasteners top and bottom rather than an elastic top and loop bottom (my experience is the elastic straps soon stretch and thus make pads a poor top of the knee fit. The De Walts would hereafter become my preferred go to (other brands are available !).

Chat over breakfast with the senior guys inevitably turned to the previous night’s shenanigans. The common/usual morning greeting always routinely involves whether one had had a good sleep & doubtless, having been brought up a good Catholic (now somewhat lapsed) boy, I answered suitably here. The senior chaps have accommodation over the cuverie so they were ‘insulated’ from the worst but clearly aware of it. Michel was present, bless him, but was unblinking throughout. He’s such a lovely, nice man – clearly very tolerant, gentle, kind and doubtless seeing the best in everyone. Very definitely right up there with the nicest people I’ve met over the years in Burgundy. I couldn’t help but reflect, if it wasn’t around this time, that had similar circumstances occurred at Arlaud I very much doubt Herve Arlaud might have been so tolerant – I recalled one year when some younger types from Dijon misbehaved. They were not present the following day.

Anyway, this impressed me no end, and all the more so when we got there, but breakfast conversation and similar in the Toyota once we’d set off, revolved around today’s terroir(s) having been purposely/specifically chosen for Les Caillottes (albeit not sure if this is the correct word but sounded like it). Essentially, due to the overnight rain, potentially sodden ground, Michel had chosen that we go high up and on stony ground (and how). At lunch from my ‘Climats & Lieux Dits’ bible I’d thought we’d been to NSG Les Argillats but only that evening, pouring over said book pre-supper, did Michel, seeing my studying, explain we’d been to Aux Champs Perdrix (a.m.) then shifted along (with only narrow grassed row between) to En la Perriere Noblot p.m. We were certainly high up, as high as vines get to. The manner in which Michel took the Toyota up there was very impressive and involved the low ratio gearbox (the only such occasion he used that). I’m not sure how the rest of the team eventually joined us, only seeing them arrive on foot, but guess they came by minibuses/vans as far as it was possible then walked up the rest of the way. Our Toyota crew were joined, whilst waiting for the full team, by one of the large vineyard tractors & trailer – so high were we, and so steep was it, that a vineyard tractor up there was an absolute non starter. Beyond the grass sward at the top of the rows was just scrub, vegetation, rocks and rough ground to the top of the hill. Also, whilst our initial ‘gang’ awaited the others I noted a harvesting machine somewhat below us and to our left towards Vosne. I couldn’t be sure where said machine was working but, to me, it seemed it more than likely must be in a premier cru terroir – not at all impressive if indeed the case.

We did quite a few passes up and down the vines in these climats – I noted 5/6 but am not sure now if that was the full day or just morning or afternoon. The afternoon saw 60 cases taken to the domaine. Big quantity and super quality all day. I could certainly see why Michel had chosen today’s sites as, despite the overnight weather we didn’t get too dirty or muddy. It was here late on I witnessed a notable, fascinating, technique I’d never seen before on such a scale in any vines but basically this was a (full) cases carrying ‘train’ – the most impressive here I saw must have involved about 10/11 individuals with similar number of cases where one man (unless at front or back) had one hand on one case in front of him, his other hand on the case behind. Quite amusing and impressive to see such a case ‘train’ emerge from a steep row & an excellent technique to retrieve the relevant number of cases for transfer to tractor trailer and then on to the domaine.

Lunch today was most excellent – the main course a chunk of pork loin/steak with garlic potatoes. Yum!

Not so impressive was the Belgian ‘children’ being ‘at it’ again in the vines as featured throughout the vendange involving throwing bunches of grapes around, at each other, and at other unsuspecting victims. If this wasn’t ridiculous enough they took things to another level on occasion by filling the odd bucket with mud, grapes etc then finding a victim to sneak up on & empty it all over. Several times I had grapes whistle around me when I was bent picking. I was never sure if such were meant for me, probably not, but I was unimpressed from the point of view of having my camera slung around my back when not grabbing a chance to use it.

During an afternoon rest break I was intrigued to note a younger guy who’d only joined us that morning with a friend was wearing a Domaine Arlaud tee shirt. In friendly conversation with him he was intrigued at my 9 year involvement there & explained he’d worked two harvest with Arlaud (after my last there).

We finished the afternoon slightly earlier than usual as we were back at the domaine before 17.00hrs. On the way back to the domaine I enjoyed a brief watch from the car of a kestrel hovering low over the vines not too far from us. I was to see a bird of prey for most days, including later in the Hautes-Cotes, and not always Kestrels but sometimes unidentifiable (by me) small hawks & occasional buzzard rather than falcons. An ornithological aspect I did note this year was the strange total absence of swallow and/or house martins. I’ve always been used to seeing swallows swoop over the vines, sometimes in past years almost seeming to head straight for you before flashing away. What I wasn’t seeing here this year had been mirrored at home in England when I’d already noticed I’d not seen the usual summer visitors. No idea why unless migration conditions to Northern Europe had been particularly affected in 2023.

The other smaller picking team had spent the day in Chambolle.

Gear cleaning on our return was minimal in the circumstances – welcome !

I did have some weird camera issues during the afternoon which I could only put down to maybe damp getting in the on/off switch, or moveable zoom but ultimately all seemed ok in the end. I was also by now reminding myself at regular intervals to check the settings wheels on the top of the Canon G16 as its quite ‘easy’ that such get caught and without one realising once can be attempting to take photos without the right set up – for obvious reasons I have to use the ‘Auto’ setting default.

A quieter evening thank goodness, post meal for me focused on my now routine photo downloading, resizing and captioning. Day 5 would be quite different again and see our first, and only, venture south of NSG.


Just a few (week 39) weekend wines…

By billn on October 03, 2023 #degustation

Weekend, week 39, wines

2009 Roty, Gevrey-Chambertin La Brunelle
I’m yet to meet a 2009 that I love – certainly the ones that I bought – but this wine is getting nearer and nearer – I’m hoping that it’s only a matter of time!
A silky but slightly dumb, round, nose. In the mouth, there’s also some ripe roundness to the shape but the flavours have more sense of purpose than the aromas. It could indeed be a wine from Gevrey and it has a fine texture too. Well concentrated though possibly still 3-4 more years away from offering something properly interesting.
Rebuy – Maybe

2021 Famille Chasselay, Éphémère
A pale colour – described by the domaine as Blouge! This is a fermented blend of layered gamay, chardonnay and pinot grapes with elevage in an amphora with no added sulfur. Served cold from the fridge.
When tasted at the domaine more than 6 months ago, I loved this. This was my first bottle that I opened and my guests loved it too! Pale colour – pink indeed. Fresh crunchy fruit aromas with the same across the palate – energy and deliciousness – and with only a faint hint of sweetness. Delicious, moreish, wine!
Rebuy – Yes

2019 Olivier Pezenneau, Brouilly Combiaty
Lots of colour. Decent enough freshness overlays a breadth of glossy dark fruit – but without the extra ripe character of many Brouilly of recent years – nice! Cool, direct, sinuous wine – the flavour expanding over the palate with dark cherry and a little licorice – always with a nice energy to both the flavours and shape of the wine. A lovely drink – and another winner from Beaujolais in 2019!
Rebuy – Yes

Domaine Michel Gros 2023 Vendange Day 3 – Sept 12th

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

Tuesday – typed 30/9/23

Was up at 6.00 a.m. this day, start had been pre-advised at 8.00 a.m.

Matters went a little awry for yours truly before we set off as, mustering with others at the front of the domaine/in the yard, once again my attention was irresistibly drawn to the water obsessed Jack Russell terrier mentioned in my Day 2 words. Long a dog lover, ‘shaped’ by my Mother’s love of dogs which meant invariably as a family we always had one or two dogs, I went to stroke the very focussed terrier but, like lightning, before I had a chance to pull back my hand, he bit hard on my left forefinger gashing the skin and causing blood flow. The dog really was quick ! All sorts of thoughts of the likes of rabies, infection from the dog’s dirty water fascination, etc etc all passed quickly through my mind whilst I contemplated my bleeding, gashed, and quite/very painful finger. One of the more senior ladies, seeing my plight, insisted we return to the accommodation house ground floor room where a first aid kit was produced, my finger sprayed with something, then carefully plastered and bandaged up. Unfortunately, inside a hot, sweaty, glove the bandage didn’t last long and after a couple of replacements I gave up & did without. My finger was painful along the gash line for about a week but ok thereafter and no other ill effects – perhaps fortunately. My wife and daughter have, for years, been telling me off for stroking ‘strange dogs’ & I could just imagine their likely combined reactions of ‘told you so’ and mega amusement (as inevitably the case on my eventual return to the UK).

Once the above ‘distraction’ was over we once again headed to Vosne La Colombiere to conclude activities there from the previous afternoon. Once again the majority of the team were on foot, walking to the site whilst, slightly embarrassingly, Michel called out to yours truly, again insisting I take the Land Cruiser front seat – who was I to argue 😉. The rear of the Toyota always importantly carried our (plastic) water ‘barrels’, cups, and various other bits and pieces. We finished La Colombiere without incident or note circa mid-morning and now came some excitement ! Maybe not for the walking team who once again were on foot from La Colombiere to……….drum roll !!!!………..Richebourg Grand Cru, or maybe more accurately, Les Veroilles ou Richebourg, with our (the car individuals) entering the site through a gap in northern edge brick wall. Whilst we waited for the walking group to arrive one of the Gros vineyard tractors arrived (for subsequent case collecting) but my attention was drawn to another domaine already working in Richebourg adjacent to our rows. A smartly dressed lady clearly seemed to be in charge & readily exchanged pleasantries with yours truly whilst I took photos of elements of her team, some notably keen to have their pictures taken. I had no idea who this other team were until some days later when, showing Michel some of my photos, he explained (relating the historic family divison of, and holdings in, Richebourg) that the lady was Caroline Parent, and in another photo the older gentleman (with wrap around shades) was her father Francois Parent – of Domaine Parent, Pommard.

In my wildest vendange dreams, going back to Chassagne 2006, I’d never envisaged working in:- a) Vosne-Romanee; or b) a terroir such as Richebourg GC hence to be here was something of a ’pinch me’ moment. We worked here, with 2 row passes, until lunch. Once my initial excitement at being in Richebourg was over, & I was working, then ultimately it was just another set of vines etc. For my rows I wasn’t ultimately terribly/overly impressed by vines or grapes though. Michel did explain to me at one point that the vines belonged to an aunt in the family yet this lady would never allow replanting for some reason. Back to Vosne for lunch – so glad I wasn’t walking, and at same time feeling sorry for those who were – this was day 3 and, apart from the small team working other sites separately who were en vehicule, the majority had yet to experience transport ! Lunch main course meatballs and rice.

Back to the same area post lunch, but Richebourg had been finished, and now the southern element of Vosne premier cru Aux Brulees, adjacent to Richebourg, was to be the subject of our afternoon attentions. The rows here were long. I found the afternoon notably tiring & was asked a few times “Was I OK” – which made me wonder at my own appearance ! As we completed the last rows of Brulees, on a corner, as the road swings, and at the end of a row of vines was a memorial headstone to a Monsieur Ecard. I’d never seen anything like this in vines previously in any vendange. I was subsequently to learn the late J-F Ecard had been a domaine employee, and husband of senior lady employee, sub team leader/in vine triager, and bucket cleaner, Odile. I could only assume the location of the memorial stone perhaps reflected some particular spot of significance.

Halt called at 17.11 p.m. Back at the cuverie, ahead of the main, on foot, ‘pack’, I took the opportunity to grab some cuverie photos, had my first shave since arrival and, praise the lord, proper hot water was now available for the shower ! Pre supper, more than one person from the walking brigade, in passing mentioned on the return from Aux Brulees that someone had been asking about me !!! I was bemused by this but after a little thought had to assume it must be a roving Mr Nanson !

Our evening supper was notable for trouble and bad behaviour from one dining table which included a group of 20 something male Belgians, who’s in vine antics had already left me wholly unimpressed. Here they were throwing food around, very noisy, and just a collective, embarrassing, pain in the proverbial. I had intended to work on my laptop but, disgusted, at 21.00 hrs decided an early night was preferable. Unfortunately, considerable noise, continued until past 2.00 a.m. – not conducive to sleep. The evening had previously brought some thunder and eventually rain which became increasingly heavy for most of the night – wet weather gear seemingly would be the order of the day on the ‘morrow – mental note to self to get my rubber boots (‘wellies’ in England) from the car. The rain and its aftermath would ‘drive’ our activities on Day 4.


2017 Clotilde Davenne, Irancy Paradis

By billn on September 25, 2023 #degustation

Clotilde Davenne 2017 Irancy Paradis2017 Clotilde Davenne, Irancy Paradis
This time, it’s a nicely robust cork.
Medium, clean red colour – it’s only the wines with some césar that show any depth of colour in 2017. The nose offers a little warmth of red berry and just a suggestion of flowers – easy – but an invitation all the same. The palate is a broad wave of red fruit with a stonier leading edge to the flavour – like cherry stones. There’s a burst of flavour as you head into this finish and then a little, modest, finishing bitters to keep me in order. Tasty wine, and an easy wine to drink – a very pretty pinot…
Rebuy – Yes

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.


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