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.