On this last official day of summer, the morning was chilly and the skies gray as our two teams of pickers set out for the vines at 8:00am...
Day Two – Tuesday 20 September 2016
This morning, the sun was poking out behind the clouds, and ended the day emerging in all its glory. It was milder and drier than yesterday. The clouds have moved on and the Côte is strangely calm. The usual effervescence, with tractors clogging the roads, noise and shouts, the excitement of the sheer intensity; all that is lacking. Instead, there is a sort of resigned waiting, a palpable frustration in the face of such a low harvest. The weather is so fine, and the fruit today was so perfect, we’d so like to have more of it. Especially since we can already tell it will make great wine. But such small quantities... The estate has never known such low yields. This is encapsulated by our Nuits-Saint-Georges Le Clos de Thorey, where picking finished this morning. This was one of the plots worst affected by frost, and will yield barely six pièces, instead of the usual 15. In other words, a tiny yield of 9hl/ha, whereas in a normal year we would expect around 30!
Day One – Monday 19 September 2016
Harvesting in an autumnal mood Whereas we had already finished harvesting by this time in 2015, this year we are only just starting in the third week in September, returning to a more traditional date for Burgundy. That said, nothing this year has followed the classic timetable. The weather has been chaotic, and we have struggled to keep up with its vertiginous changes.
Day fifteen – Tuesday 15 September 2015
Here we are on the last day of the harvests! The team on the Côte de Nuits finished yesterday, and all that remained was a small section of our Hautes-Côtes de Beaune vines which our brave pickers cut in the wet. The weather was blown up from the south, and Mother Nature let rip with powerful gusts and squally rain. But by lunchtime, everything was done. The team had the afternoon to rest and to prepare for tonight’s paulée, the traditional celebration to mark the end of the harvest.
Day fourteen Monday – 14 September 2015
This beautiful “flower” day in the lunar calendar involved our final hours of picking on the windy crests of the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and de Beaune in the last plots to ripen. Last night was a new moon, which always signifies a change in the weather. And today it was clear as the temperatures dropped and we were hit with squalls of rain throughout the day. Fall is approaching fast as the sun played hide-and-go-seek with the clouds. It was 12°C this morning and 18°C during the afternoon.
Day thirteen – Saturday 12 September 2015
We only picked for half of today as rain was forecast for the afternoon. While Raphaël’s team was helping out some friends of ours on another estate, Thierry’s gang on the Côte de Nuits finished up the old vines of Gevrey-Chambertin Les Evocelles. They were in beautiful condition despite there being less fruit than last year. The yield was about right for the year, with 25 hectoliters per hectare. Then they headed above Nuits-Saint-Georges to the lovely and recently acquired plots of Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits red. These are high-trained vines with beautifully sinuous rows offering lovely fruit. This large vineyard covers one hectare, and runs alongside our two plots planted with white. The grapes were gathered quickly because the pickers can stand up while cutting the bunches at eye-level, which meant a devilish pace back at the winery to keep up with the incoming crates.
Day twelve – Friday 11 September 2015
This last day of sunshine was reserved for our last grand cru, a legendary one and definitely the oldest – our Charmes-Chambertin Les Mazoyères. These vines were planted in 1902, and although we replace a few plants every year, the oldest are 113 years old! Normally, vines of this age would be well past their prime, but by some kind of agronomical miracle, this extraordinary vegetable matter is surviving everything nature throws at it. The wonderful combination of these admirable plants, some superb terroir, and great winegrowing resulted in lovely grapes with good millerandage on which the winemaker will work his magic. This land was truly made for grapes, and on average produces 3,000 bottles of exceptional wine that is both beautiful in color and powerful in character, and extremely sophisticated to boot.
Day eleven – Thursday 10 September 2015
It was another fabulous day today, with temperatures of 10°C this morning rising to 24°C by the afternoon. In just a few days’ time, the harvests will be finished. Indeed, the traditional end-of-harvest celebration known as the paulée is scheduled for Tuesday night. Meanwhile, we must finish the plots as they arrive at full maturity.
Day ten – Wednesday 9 September 2015
The day was bathed in a glorious sun, raising the temperature to an agreeable 21°C. A new day’s picking got underway at a good pace for the team on the Côte de Nuits, who were unaware that a surprise awaited them on the large three-hectare plot of our Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Clos de Thorey Monopole.
Day nine – Tuesday 8 September 2015
Today, Pierre is disappointed, despite the lovely weather on this “flower” day of the lunar calendar. Yields are so low that it’s all happening too fast! It’s such a fabulous harvest that he desperately wants there to be more fruit. Unfortunately, the story is the same across the Côte, and that’s the only damper on this fantastic year. The quality is there, but yields are low, with around 20% less than in a “normal” year. As a result, Sylvie is sulking. Pierre’s alter-ego, the other half of Mr & Mrs de la Vougeraie, our bubbly blond head of sales has been the driving force of the estate, albeit in the shadow of the winemaker, for nine years now, and she’s the one who is going to have to explain why she is limiting our loyal customers’ orders for this vintage. She has temporarily lost her legendary smile. But Mother Nature calls the shots around here, and she chose not to irrigate this year – irrigation so desperately needed by Burgundy wines – and although this brings out the glorious magic of the terroir, it means low yields.
Day eight – Monday 7 September 2015
The sun rose at 6am over a chilly and windy Côte, with a bright blue sky scattered with clouds. We are now halfway through the harvest, and are simply following the tempo, which continues to increase in the winery as the vats are filled with reds and barrels filled with whites.
Day seven – Saturday 5 September 2015
Saturday was a half-day for the pickers before a day off on Sunday. This morning, we finished the Pommard Les Petits Noizons. For a vine hit by hail, the crop wasn’t bad, producing enough to fill around 17 pièces, two more than last year and the equivalent to 35 hectoliters per hectare. The weather was gray, heavy, and fairly cool at just 8°C, and all the talk was of turning on the heating. We have gone from 34°C to 15°C in just 10 days! It’s a harsh continental climate in Burgundy, not helped by the Moon and the changing seasons.
Day six – Friday 4 September 2015
With the thermometer showing just 10°C this morning in the vines, it was a little frisky for our pickers! But fortunately, the sun shone all day, bringing the temperature up to a pleasant 20°C. This meant the ideal conditions for the 2015 harvest continued: a blue sky dotted with a few fluffy clouds, and a steady stream of lovely grapes.
Day five – Thursday 3 September 2015
Today was a “fruit” day in the biodynamic calendar, ideal for harvesting as it boosts the fruitiness of the grapes. The weather was normal for the season, with a blue sky dotted with large clouds revealing and hiding the sun by turns. The teams were all in good spirits when they gathered at 7am in Beaune, Morey-Saint-Denis and Prémeaux. There were 30 on one Côte, 50 on the other, and a 12-strong crew in the winery, all united by their mission to pick and transform the grapes.
Day four – Wednesday 2 September 2015
The vines may still be an intense green color, but summer is slowly slipping away. The sun rises later, the days are growing shorter, and there’s a definite chill in the air. It’s perfect picking weather, you’d never know it rained yesterday, and sneakers are de rigeur in the vines.
Day three – Tuesday 1 September 2015
The storm arrived and the thunder boomed out overnight, but in the end did little damage. Only some 3mm of rain fell, and the temperatures tumbled. But this was nothing compared to our northerly neighbors in Chablis, where the vineyards suffered hailstorms on the eve of the harvests. We spare a thought for them…
Day two – Monday 31 August 2015
On Saturday, the huge, round Moon lit up the summer night as temperatures continued to soar. It was still 30°C after night fell over the languid vineyards and the forest dotted with oronges. The coolness did not arrive this weekend, but the full Moon foretells of a change in the weather, so we just need a little patience.
Day one – Friday 28 August 2015
Here we are again, starting on our annual grape harvest at the Domaine de la Vougeraie. These two weeks of intense hard work are what truly makes the wine. Although the grapes remain the essential raw material, their harvesting and transformation must magnify what nature has given us. And this year has been remarkable thanks to the intense heat this summer. We have endured two months of almost constant heat, something very rare for the Burgundy region, with repeated peaks of 40°C, leading us to fear the worst in July when some bunches were burning under the rays of this infernal sun.
Day 15 – Thursday 25 September 2014
That’s it. After 15 intense days, the last day of the harvest is upon us and we are entering the phase of the birth of the wines, the three most fantastic weeks in a winemaker’s life: creation! The moment when they express their talent and play sorcerer’s apprentice.
Day 14 – Wednesday 24 September 2014
Exactly one year ago to the day, the 2013 harvest began at the Domaine.
This year, it is steadily coming to a conclusion under an ever-present sun.
Day 13 – Tuesday 23 September 2014
That’s it! Summer is officially over. The sun kept going as long as it could, we sense now that Mother Nature, after her spectacularly fruitful recent activity, is gradually losing her vitality. The leaves on the vines are turning red, the trees becoming burnished; the days are growing cooler and the nights longer.
Day 12 – Monday 22 September 2014
The sight of pickers on the Côte foretells the onset of the fall. In a few days’ time, the pickers will leave and calm will return to the vines as they take on their autumnal finery. But in the winery, the activity is intense. Almost all the vats will be filled – 28 out of 34 – with the whites slowly awakening in stainless steel.
Days 10 & 11 – Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September 2014
Fog! It’s strange but true – on Saturday morning, the Côte was wrapped in a thick cloud of the stuff like we see in November, while two days ago, it was 28°C and summertime... The teams set out to finish off the vines of Savigny-Lès-Beaune Les Golardes and then its continuation of Les Vermots, which will be separately vinified and then blended into a single cuvée.
Day nine – Friday 19 September 2014
Yesterday’s storms brought a damp chill to the air. The sky was gray and low this morning, wrapping the Côte in clouds threatening to spill their rain at any moment...
Day eight – Thursday 18 September 2014
It was a “flower” day in the biodynamic calendar, which is perfect for harvesting. The sun shone and the sky was blue, scattered with the occasional fluffy cloud. Pierre is naturally obsessing about the weather, and decided that we should finish the best plots before the storm announced for this evening could dilute the grapes by half a degree. So it was around Morey-Saint-Denis, between Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Vougeot that the two teams met up on the Côte de Nuits for the first time.
Day seven – Wednesday 17 September 2014
Today was another busy day, under a hazy sky with a chill in the air. But as usual, for this harvest, the sun eventually came out to shine on the vines as they gave up their ripe fruits.
Day six – Tuesday 16 September 2014
It was another sunny day today, with a cloudless blue sky and 28°C in the hottest part of the afternoon. The grapes continue to ripen, despite the leaves starting to turn brown in places, signifying the end of the vegetative cycle. The vines are dotted with little groups of pickers, trucks, high-clearance tractors, and trailers; and the roads are thick with traffic from midday until 6pm. The harvest is in full swing on the Côte.
Day five – Monday 15 September 2014
The first team arrived at the winery before 7am this morning, while the pickers met at 7.15am, by which time the first of the sun’s rays were already warming up the Côte. Today was an intense day because the rain forecast for Thursday means we must harvest our best vines as quickly as possible to preserve the balance of sugar and acidity.
Day four – Saturday 13 September 2014
Whether you’re a picker or a porter, starting on your fourth day of picking, tiredness is already bound to be kicking in and it wouldn’t have been helped by waking up to a cold and gray morning! But they simply had to put on a brave face as the sun would soon grace us with its presence, and heat up our day. In fact, it was so summery today that the pickers even picnicked in the vines at lunchtime.
Day three – Friday 12 September 2014
It was 8°C this morning in the vines, but the radiant sun soon pushed the temperatures up to a very pleasant level accompanied by a light breeze, making optimal conditions for grape picking on this fruit day in the lunar calendar. It also marked the arrival in the winery of the first red grand cru grapes, with that honor falling to the Côte de Beaune Corton Clos du Roi.
Day two – Thursday 11 September 2014
The sun was shining and a gentle breeze that was neither too hot nor too cold was blowing across the vineyards this morning. It was is ideal weather for this, the second day of harvesting at the Domaine de la Vougeraie, which will be colored both red and white.
Day one – Wednesday 10 September 2014
Harvest time is back again! Three intense weeks lie ahead to shape the future vintage. It was this morning under a misty sky that our enthusiastic 80 grape pickers headed out to attack the Domaine de la Vougeraie’s 16th harvest.
Day fourteen and fifteen – Sunday 13 and Monday 14 October 2013
With Saturday’s festive Paulée now behind us, it was time to bid farewell to the Beaune team of pickers. Despite consuming copious quantities of wine from the estate, the pickers in Nuits-Saint-Georges would yet have to put in another day’s work. As for Pierre, he had the two young female interns with him on Sunday, which might explain why he did not hop in to tread the caps down. Nonetheless, they had to be on duty at 7.30am with clear heads to monitor the 30 vats.
Day 13 – Saturday 12 October 2013
Let’s be honest, when the sun came out this morning and put the smile back on the face of the pickers until mid-afternoon, everyone worshipped the sun god. But once again, around the afternoon break, he was brutally floored by what at first seemed like a shower, but which continued to rain down on the poor harvesters. They persevered because everyone wanted to get the job done. It was too cold, too damp, too gray, and had gone on too long! We have lost nine pickers along the way so the pace has dropped, and in the end, we won’t finish tonight as we’d forecast at the start of the week.
This evening, the Paulée was held in Vougeot...
Day 12 Friday – 11 October 2013
Today was the chilliest day we’ve had so far with the mercury only nudging 4°C this morning. We spent the day finishing off the large, new plot of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, and it will be sorted as soon as it is delivered to the winery.
Day 11 – Thursday 10 October 2013
Another wet and cold day in the drabness of a Burgundy autumn. It was a fresh 9°C this morning and it had rained for much of the night. The radio forecast the first snow of the year above a height of 1000 meters (fortunately the highest summit in the Burgundy wine region is just 771 meters). On the plus side, the grapes came in nice and chilled, and the naturally cool and long prefermentation maceration allowed for good extraction of color and aromas. That is one of the characteristics of these cold vintages, typically resulting in wines with a very fruity expression due to this initial phase of vinification.
Day ten – Wednesday 9 October 2013
The day started overcast with rain threatening – whatever happened to the change in the weather brought about by the changing moon? The morning was spent finishing the Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de Thorey by the Beaune team.
Day nine – Tuesday 8 October 2013
Another gray day, with threatening skies overhead but mild temperatures. Picking on the Côte de Beaune was finished this morning in Volnay, where the fruit was surprisingly beautiful. The crew then joined those on the Côte de Nuits, where two-thirds of our vines are located.
Days seven and eight – Sunday 6 and Monday 7 October 2013
Sunday was a day of rest for the pickers, but not in the winery. As such, the enthusiastic Sidonie, Blandine, Olivier and Pierre were on deck at 7am for a half-day’s work. On the schedule: pumping over, checking the density and temperature of the 12 vats that are now being held between 12 et 14°C, and the never-ending task of cleaning.
Day Six – Saturday 5 October 2013
With the rain coming down like a biblical deluge, Pierre no doubt wondered how he was going to cope with all the water and turn anything into wine! Given the apocalyptic conditions, we decided to harvest the most straightforward vines.
Day five – Friday 4 October 2013
The overcast weather is back with the accompanying damp, but it remains mild. It was not yet raining on the Côte de Nuits, but the mass of clouds looked threatening. On the Côte de Beaune, fine rain settled in at midday and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Boots and waterproofs became caked with mud, and the gloves went back on. The pickers may well have kept their smiles, but the harvest this year is no picnic!
Day four – Thursday 3 October 2013
Today, the sun decided to reappear. At first, it peered timidly between two clouds in bright white sky, and we could hardly believe it. Then the temperature began to climb steadily until we had a positively summery afternoon: 26° degrees with a bright, windswept sky. What a joy!
Day three Wednesday 2 October 2013
They are so serious! Whether it is in the winery or in the vines, this year, the three teams are earnest above all else. Everybody is working with application, between the rows or between the vats. Maybe it’s this year’s vintage having an effect. There is no joking, no loafing, no troublemaking and no fooling around. Some may miss it but this year, when being focused is essential for making the right choices at the right moment, it seems that nature has got it right.
Day Two – Tuesday 1 October 2013
The weather is clearly not on our side for this harvest. After a chilly and terribly damp spring, the vines recovered thanks to a gloriously hot, sunny summer. Then on 5 September, with the change of moon came a change in the weather. The cold was back, threatening the maturity of the grapes, pushing the harvest back even later. Fortunately, a few bright spells at last ripened off the grapes, rendered fragile by the now-constant damp. Today, it is with some relief that we see the end of the lunar cycle looming early next week.
Day one – Monday 30 September 2013
That’s it, the harvests are underway! And this year it is more intense than ever, since the chaotic weather throughout the season has given us plenty of stress. Our conductor, Pierre Vincent, is at last satisfied: everything is organized, and the vineyards are visited daily to evaluate the maturity of the fruit, since lab analysis alone is not enough. You have to take a proper look at the grapes, their overall condition, and their softness. These are all details which change very quickly in the mild dampness that currently prevails across Burgundy. There’s no room for error, because we have 70 different plots: waiting longer means the sugars are more developed, but the risk of rot also increases. Not long enough, and there’s an excess of acidity. We are always seeking that perfect balance between sweetness and acidity – a quality that one of our most exacting British clients has come to sample at source.
Day ten Friday – 28 September 2012
A light mist hung over the vines this morning. It is the last day of the harvest and everyone is looking forward to the paulée tonight, the traditional closing party. There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the winery. The two last pressings are reserved for the Savigny-lès-Beaune and the Corton-Charlemagne, both of which gave us good yields.
Day nine Thursday – 27 September 2012
The weather was much better today over the vines which still look surprisingly green, as if the rain is helping extend their lifecycle. But the end of the harvest is in the air. For several days now, we’ve been hearing the horns blaring on trucks carrying their last few crates and seeing cars spiriting the harvesters away to distant horizons. Some didn’t turn up this morning, put off by yesterday’s rain. This race against the clock will be over by the weekend.
Day eight – Wednesday 26 September 2012
This harvest newsletter is dedicated to the heroes of the day, our harvesters, who braved some dreadful weather today. The rain fell constantly, accompanied by gusts of wind. Our valorous pickers only took a break at lunchtime, with a hot meal in the dry. We salute their courage and determination.
Day seven – Tuesday 25 September 2012
The weather this year has been topsy-turvy: we had summer in springtime and now we have spring in the fall! The vine has not yet taken on its flamboyant bronze and red colors and the skies are alternating between bright spells and cloudy periods, all with very mild temperatures. This is in total contrast with yesterday.
Days five and six – Sunday 23 and Monday 24 September 2012
On Sunday morning, all was calm at the winery with no grapes arriving today. Pierre and his two interns spent the day monitoring the vats and measuring densities and temperatures. The Côte was heaving with vehicles, and pickers were scurrying among the rows under the afternoon sun. Sunday night turned muggy and storms began grumbling in the south over the Saône. During the night, the vines were hit with a sudden downpour.