More rain was predicted, so David had decided not to pick this morning. No problem, since there was only about half a day's work left and dry weather was forcast for the afternoon. And so we started the day with a nutricious lunch and a glass of wine or two. Then off to Brochon to harvest the Cote de Nuits Villages.
I went back to the cuverie with the rest of the sorting team after about an hour, along with the first van-load of grapes. Beatiful looking grapes again, that didn't require a lot of sorting. The first 25 percent of the grapes went in the cuve whole cluster, the rest was destemmed. After Brochon the pickers went to David's parcel of Morey-Saint-Denis, which they finished rather quickly (it was only about one barrel worth of grapes) and then it was time for champagne! After the champagne we still had to sort the Morey (again, not much sorting needed) which went in the cuve 100% whole cluster.
When cleaning the sorting table afterwards, we found a few ladybugs. David decided to place them in the rosé vat as an experiment to see if Bill Nanson's theory could be true. Interesting!
In the evening we had a real Burgundian paulée to celebrate the end of the harvest. Coq au vin and lots of interesting bottles like a 1970 Monbazillac (incredibly youthful) and an Italian sparkling wine made by Anselme Selosse. We also had a look at the first lab analyses: 12,2 to 13,2 alcohol and moderate acidity (pH 3.14 to 3.30). Just about perfect!
It had rained a bit at night, and it started raining again when we started picking David's Bourgogne vineyard "Au Pelson". Not the best of conditions, although it was no big problem for the grapes as the rainwater on the grapes was shaken of at the vibrating sorting table. It was uncomfortable for the pickers, several kilo's of sticky clay would cling on your boots, and especially for the "porteurs" who had to transport the crates out of the vineyard with a wheelbarrow.
After about an hour it became dry, and in the afternoon it would even be sunny. By then I was in cuverie with the other "English speakers" (and Christophe). Compared to Tuesday we had reinforcements: Chris from England (he has lived a couple of years in Morey-Saint-Denis) who was smart enough to arrive just after the rain stopped, and Annabel from California (though she now lives in Meursault) who had already worked the harvest at Pierre Morey.
The grapes looked impeccable, so not a lot of sorting was necessary. After long contemplations David had decided to vinify the Bourgogne 100% whole cluster this year. It will be interesting to see how this "experiment" turns out! The next grapes arriving in the cuverie were the Passetoutgrains gamay and pinot noir. They didn't need a lot of sorting either, and were completely destemmed.
In the evening we had pizzas, and (blind) tasted some bottles. I surprised everyone by presenting a German wine (Meyer-Näkel spätburgunder from Ahr)...
It looked like I was going to miss out on the action at Domaine Anne Gros this year, as Anne had finished picking last week already. Or so I thought, because I found out she had postponed picking the Bourgogne blanc and Chambolle-Musigny. And so I was still able to do a day of harvesting here, much to my delight.
The day started a bit grey and misty, but it was dry and it was soon getting sunny and warm. The Bourgogne blanc parcel was in Vosne-Romanée, on the other side of the railroad. The chardonnay grapes here were close to perfect, and we finished picking them in about two hours. The rest of the day we spent in the Combe d' Orveau picking Chambolle-Musigny, apart from a lunch-break at the domaine. Madame Gros had once again prepared a great meal, especially her home-made tarte au rhubarbe was to die for!
The Chambolle grapes looked a whole lot better than last year, with considerably less rot. Anne was very happy with the whole harvest, not just in Burgundy but also at the new domaine in Minervois that she runs with her husband Jean-Paul Tollot. The carignan grapes here were the most beautiful grapes she ever saw.
A nouveauté: she makes two new wines this year, from bought-in grapes. A Nuits-Saint-Georges and a red Savigny-les-Beaune.
The picking made me hungry and thirsty. I successfully challenged both conditions that night at Chez Guy in Gevrey-Chambertin, where I had dinner with Cynthia and Belgians Paul, Christian and Martine who were staying in Anne's guesthouse. Perfect way to end the day!
No picking for me today, so some rest for my back and the opportunity to visit a few producers to see what they think about the 2009 vintage.
In the morning I visited Richard Bos at Domaine Lucie et Auguste Lignier in Morey-Saint-Denis, where he works besides running his own business in Meursault. He was busy preparing samples for the œnologue and measuring densities. Harvest was nearly finished here (only the aligoté was still to be picked) and Richard was very happy with the quality of the grapes, both here and at JanotsBos. I got to taste several of the samples, and it was astonishing to spot the huge difference between for instance Clos de la Roche and Morey villages, even though it was juice of grapes picked only a few days ago. The grand cru juice was already much more concentrated, rich and intense.
After lunch with Cynthia (who I met during last years harvest at Anne Gros) I teamed up with Dutch Burgundy expert and commercial agent Karel de Graaf, visiting several domaines he works for in the Cote de Nuits. First stop Geantet-Pansiot in Gevrey-Chambertin. They do two sortings here, one before and one after destemming. Last year there were four people on the second sorting tables, this year there was just one guy (and he looked a bit bored), that is how good 2009 is compared to 2008.
After this we visited Domaine Arlaud in Morey-Saint-Denis, Bertagna in Vougeot, Regis Forey and Jean Grivot in Vosne-Romanée, Chantal Lescure in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Domaine des Perdrix in Premeau-Prissey. Happy faces everywhere!
At Jean Grivot we arrived at the perfect moment, harvesting was just finished so they were having a paulée. We were invited at Etienne Grivot's table, and treated to some great wines: Vosne Brulées '98, Echezeaux '97 and Richebourg '97...
Today we had an easy day ahead of us at Domaine David Clark: we were only going to pick David's Vosne-Romanée vineyard (4 ouvrées in the villages lieu-dit Aux Ormes). David's other vineyards were not going to be picked until the weekend.
After breakfast we set off to the vineyard with a small team. A few locals, amongst which Oronce, Christophe who I met chez David at last years harvest, and a lady who worked for DRC for twenty years (she was picking fast!!). Then there were Australians Gavin and Gen who I met yesterday already, and another Australian guy called Lindsay. I asked him if he had ever picked grapes before and he answered "I own a vineyard in Australia"; I took that as a yes... Turned out he is one of the best Aussie pinot producers. Completing the team were the Scots (David and his parents).
The grapes here looked fabulous! Small bunches, though not as tiny as last year. The yield is a bit higher than last year, this year David will probably produce three barrels against two in 2008.
Conditions were great today for picking: no rain, not too hot, and mostly sunny. We finished picking the vineyard in less than three hours, after which we had a casse croute in the vineyard and met Jasper Morris who stopped by to see how things were going. After that we went to the cuverie to do the sorting. Not much sorting was needed, but still we removed any less than perfect grape. The first 25% of the grapes went in to the cuve whole cluster, the rest was destemmed.
Then there was lunch, accompanied by -amongst other things- the rosé that David made last year as a "harvesters wine". It tasted surprisingly good considering the way it was made (from grapes thrown out at the sorting table). David will make a rosé this year again, to drink during next years harvest. More on that later.
Today I thought I would have a day of vacation before starting harvesting tomorrow. Driving around a bit, visit a few wineshops. But then David Clark called, informing me that his friend Oronce de Beler was going to harvest some Corton-Perrieres this afternoon and was a bit short of pickers. So guess where I did my first coups de sécateur of this vintage?
Because Oronce wasn't going to use a sorting table, the pickers had to do the sorting in the vineyard. This was no big problem, the grapes looked good with just a little bit of rot in one section of the vineyard and some occasional sunburn.
The weather was good today, dry, partly clouded and not too hot. Perfect harvest conditions.
Apart from some French pickers and David Clark there was an Australian couple present: Gavin and Genevieve, who are lucky enough to be living in Beaune. They keep the Wine at the Table blog: lots of interesting tastings!
Picking makes hungry, so I was glad to end the day in my favourite restaurant Caves Madeleine having a big steak accompanied by a bottle of '04 Beaucastel. Pas mal du tout!
Sunday, 28 September
It is cold (only 7 degrees Celcius) and still dark when I arrive in Vosne-Romanee for my first day of this years harvest. There is a great atmosphere in the village! Cars of the harvesters are parked everywhere, at all the domaines a lot of acivity is going on, tractors and minivans come and go.
Anne Gros had started yesterday, picking Echezeaux and making a start with Clos Vougeot which we finish first thing today. I have been told there had been some rot in Echezeaux, but Clos Vougeot is looking very good. Small bunches with small grapes, some unripe grapes but no rot at all and the grapes taste very sweet.
We are with a large team of over 30 people today, so picking goes fast. After Clos Vougeot we go to Richebourg. Grapes are looking just as good here. Tiny bunches, with small, ripe grapes and no rot. Next vineyard: Vosne-Romanee village, a parcel called Les Barreaux located high on the slope, above the famous Cros Parentoux. Bunches are even smaller here. Should make good wine, but quantities will probably be very low... Quite a difference with the last vineyard of the day: Bourgogne rouge, a parcel called Champs d'Argent. Big, healthy bunches here.
The quality of the grapes looks surprisingly good, considering the cold and wet summer. Anne Gros is satisfied, but she mentiones that the acidity is very high this year. She calls 2008 an "interesting vintage" and compares it with 1996. She is afraid the reds will not have a lot of colour.
Pictures can be found here
Monday, 29 September
Again the day starts cold, but as soon as the sun starts to shine it gets quite warm. And it's dry. Perfect harvest conditions, although there's rain predicted for later this week.
The harvesting equipe is smaller today. Anne's children are at school, others are back to university, the Roux family is back to Limoges. Unlike last year almost all harvesters are French, the exception being Cynthia (who wrote a blog about the harvest. Nice reading!)
In the morning we are again doing Bourgogne rouge, in the afternoon (after a four course lunch and some much needed rest) we are going to the Combe d' Orveaux (Chambolle-Musigny). Here the grapes are sometimes a bit affected by rot, maybe because the vineyard is enclosed on three sides by forest which prevents the wind from drying the grapes. But the rot is no big problem, the triage takes care of that.
When I've finished picking at Anne Gros, I decide to have a look at Domaine Jean Tardy (also in Vosne-Romaneé) to see how things are going here. Guillaume Tardy, who now runs the domaine, is busy in the cuverie. He is in a happy mood, they have just finished harvesting (apart from a parcel in the Hautes Cotes, which will not be picked until the end of the week).
Guillaume is surprised by the quality of the grapes. The potential alcohol levels are good, all about 13%. He says two weeks earlier things looked pretty bad, but then suddenly the ripeness of the grapes increased rappidly. The last two weeks have certainly saved the vintage!
Tuesday, 30 September
The team is even smaller today, there are only around 10 coupeurs left, so things are progressing a bit slower. In the morning we finish Combe d' Orveaux. After lunch (lovely blanquette de veau) we move on to Concoeur (Hautes Cotes de Nuits).
Anne owns red and white vines here, but we are only picking the reds now. The whites are going to be harvested in the weekend of 11/12 October. The weather is changing a bit this afternoon. It's more cloudy, and it's getting cooler. There's also a fierce, cold wind. It's still dry, but for how long?
So it's a tough afternoon. Also because my back hurts quite a lot. But Anne told me the third day is the worst, after that it's okay and you could go on for a month. That's good news, because although today was my last day chez Anne there a two more days ahead of me at Domaine David Clark.