The first deep knee bend of the day was killer, then it didn’t seem so bad for most of the day, then by mid afternoon everything hurt that could. I’m trying to recall something I can’t quite – a friend ran the U.S. Marine Corps marathon, and had a t-shirt that said something like after some number of miles I thought I’d die, after some further stage I wished I’d die, and by the end I knew nothing could kill me. I’m not quite to that final stage, but I imagine by the end of the week I will reach that point. And have knees and a back of iron.
Up and out at 8:00 AM, to finish Clos de Vougeot, which we did in quite short order. Then moved on to pick the Richebourg. Nice to have the sun on one side of your face in Clos de Vougot, where the vines run roughly east-west, then to move on to Richebourg mid morning where they run roughly north-south, and work with the sun on your back. It helped warm the stiff old back muscles.
Richebourg, like Clos de Vougeot, smaller clusters of smaller grapes. Lush greenery starred with orange daisies underfoot conceals killer paving stone soil, thank god I knelt down gently and didn’t drop into it thinking it would be as cushy as it looked. Anne’s vines are either side of a short stretch of retaining wall, with the more easterly vines down about 3 feet from the lot above for a good stretch. I remember as I began picking them in the lower section that there seemed to be subtle differences in the grapes, damned if I can articulate those differences now, 8 or 10 hours later and knackered. Apologies to any audience this may have. Again enchanted by the beauty and fragrance of the grapes. Very little pourriture, grapes really in good nick, it seemed. At lunch time I helped at the sorting table back at the domain again, and we had very little to do, they were so clean and ripe.
Finished Richebourg after lunch, then moved on to Anne’s Vosne Romanée village vineyard, part of Les Barreaux. I took one picture as we tumbled out of the trucks, the vines run roughly north-south up a steep slope.
The photo is of the vines nearest the line of the woods at the west end, Anne’s parcel is further east, well away from the woods, so much better sunlight. By the time we finished, maybe 5:00 ish, that first vineyard was totally in shade – and they were just arriving and starting to pick as we were leaving.
For village wine, it has to be good – the grapes were small, well ripe, no pourriture, some small bunches at the top of the vines were not fully ripe and perhaps had a bit of mildew, we just left those behind. Again, I did a little time at the sorting table on this harvest at the end of the day, and again, all of us there – including Pascale – commented on how clean they were, and how pretty.
After that, we put in the last hour or so of the day in one of the Bourgogne Rouge vineyards, which is on the plain, east of the village and of the main drag, the N74, a parcel named Les Pacquiers. Clay soil, dried and cracked, heavy solid bunches of large grapes, but the same meticulous care of the vines, pruned so the bunches were all at the bottom, and a pretty fair quantity of them. Again, in good ripe condition and clean.
While picking today, I was often in tandem with a man named Axel, whose wife and children joined in the afternoon, as they had done the day before. Like me, he is someone who simply loves the wine and came to pick for curiousity and loved it, this is his second year. I don’t know where exactly he is from, but he was very kind about my rotten French and managed to encourage me in conversation, mostly about the wines and wine makers we both knew in the region, and the vendange. When we were finished and standing at the top of the hill of the Vosne Romanée village vineyard, he commented on the difference between Anne’s parcel versus the parcels either side – that she is more “bio” and the care she takes is in clear contrast to her immediate neighbours.
There were several family groups in the picking, it was nice… small children “helping” their parents, one wife simply came out with the baby in the pram and sat on the sidelines watching. That may change tomorrow, with the start of the week and back to school. One man I met is studying to be sommelier at the viticultural school in Beaune, came just for the weekend, back to university tomorrow. Interestingly, he said (if I understood his french correctly) that they actually have done very little tasting as yet, will do some later, but tasting was not a big part of the course.
At lunch sat beside someone who joined today, Jan van Roekel, a Dutchman who is also just thoroughly in love with Burgundy and Burgundian wines, he has a web site, burgoholic.com (2015: now discontinued, sadly), I’ve not looked at it yet (as I write, I still have not figured out about getting an internet connection, I’m keeping this off line till I do). He is doing a couple days with Anne, followed by a couple days with another vigneron in Morey St. Denis.
And on the subject of websites, shame on me for not doing this sooner, Anne’s website is Anne Gros. Last July I stayed at her gite, thanks to Jasper Morris MW of Berry Brothers and Rudd for recommending it when I was at a loss to find a place at this end of the Cote de Nuits (see her website for more information). On her site she asks for vendangeurs, so at the end of my stay I volunteered – she promptly asked for my national insurance number to get me on the payroll. So here I am…
Image of the day: Looking over Richebourg about 10:00 in the morning southeast towards the village of Vosne Romanée. To the left you can see one of the porters with a pannier on his back. Anne’s own parcel is to the left, beginning about where the porter is and extending off the edge of the photo. I had to snap photos quickly as we tumbled out of the trucks, or when we were getting ready to leave, so they aren’t always of quite the right few vines. But it should give you the drift.