Harvest in Burgundy or: How I learned to Stop Working Fine Dining and Love the Process

So I did a thing at a late night La Paulée after party...

A lot of us, especially Sommeliers who have decided to focus their studies and career on the wines of Burgundy, talk about the need to put boots on the ground in the region but few of us ever do.

Now I've made plenty of questionable decisions in my life, I did once single handedly try and bring disco back in 2003, and that night I made a decision that turned out to be only slightly less out there. I cornered one of the best winemakers of our generation Pierre Yves Colin, who (in full disclosure I've known PY for a few years now) allowed me to not only drunkenly accost him all full of 60's Taragona Chartreuse and wide-eyed enthusiasm, but is allowing me to come and live and work with him in Burgundy for the 2018 harvest at Domaine Pierre Yves Colin-Morey.

I reached out to  about the best way to document this and provide the community with a direct line to Burgundy as well as hopefully some inside information on the 2018 harvest and Burgundy in general. 

I'm going to try and check in at least 1-2 times a week with updates and to answer questions. There will be a lot to see on my instagram instagram.com/maxcoane, I promise it won't just be ridiculous bottle shots and food pics. 

Let me know what questions you guys have for PY and I'll do my best to get them answered.

MTC

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  • Its Friday night in Chassagne and just like an average Friday night in San Francisco our little village of less than 500 people is completely rocking and loud, by which I mean its 23:09 not a sound can be heard for miles and its absolutely pitch black out…

    I have to admit that despite everything I’ve studied about Burgundy I never really realized just how far off the grid the village of Chassagne-Montrachet is.

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    A view of Chassagne in the distance from the dining room at the winery. 

    There is 1 cafe, a smattering of houses, a church, the school, the Abbye Morgeot, City Hall and thats about it. Part of the reason I haven’t updated as much as I’d like is that there is only internet connection in two rooms at the winery and when I ask why we don’t have better WiFi, their answer is: “Because this is Burgundy.” Which is the general answer to a lot of things around here

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    Its important to consider the way these wine making families view their birthright. As Caroline Colin-Morey said last night over dinner, “No matter how hard you try, you cannot change Burgundy.” PY and Caroline view themselves as stewards of a tradition, nothing more.

    Our team at PYCM/CCM consists of PY/Caroline, their eldest son Mathis Colin-Morey, two assistant wine makers; one French and one from Chile doing her degree in winemaking, and 3 harvest stages, myself included. There are a few people each day, brokers, cavistes, sommeliers, and wine makers who also work with us. In addition we have two teams of harvesters, one completely French, the other from Morocco, a total of 70 people.

    With the assistance of our harvest teams the fruit is harvested by hand and placed in bins which are then brought back via tractor to the winery. From what I hear we are extremely lucky at PYCM because we don’t have to spend the majority of our time in the vineyard cutting grapes. Another American I met is staging at Domaine Lamey in St. Aubin and has spent the majority of his time in the vineyard cutting fruit, which is not an easy job especially in the St. Aubin 1er cru vineyards. On the maps its hard to understand but a vineyard like Chatenière 1er cru is like almost 30 degrees slope so spending 2-3 days working those vines is not as we might say here “super bon.”

    This isn’t to say we haven’t spent time in the vineyards.

    Cutting fruit with French seasonal harvest workers could be an entry in itself and probably should be. There are the 3 guys who speak some English, Marcel the most French (and most drunk) of all the septuagenarians leading the harvest crew, “Monsieur Bob” the French-Rasta guy who likes to “bless up mon” before we enter the vineyards and a collection of other “harvest specimens,” seasonal workers who make up the core of the team. They go out once in the morning after breakfast, come back for lunch, and then go out again until 17:00-18:00. I wont say I’m even close to good at cutting the fruit, I’m definately not as fast or as thorough as the more practiced harvesters but they tolerate the loud American, mostly because they take pity on my French.

    Monsieur Bob doing his pre harvest smoke and dance routine.

    On Tuesday l went with the French team and picked Chassagne 1e Crur Chaumée, 1er Cru Chenevottes, and then the entire team went to the vineyard to pick the Grand Cru.

    "Completely Batarded" or A Sweaty American Touched All Your Grapes...


    Imagine, just for a moment, that you are standing in the middle of Criots Bâtard-Montrachet. The crazy looking overgrown vines of Lalou Bize-Leroy are to your left, the beautifully pruned vines of Caroline Colin-Morey are to your right, and just behind you while you cut fruit a an older Deux Chevaux pulls up and out comes CCM’s 80+ year old father Jean Marc Morey.

    Assuming you’re a Burgundy nut like I am, this scene would be like watching Paul McCartney or someone like that walk into any band’s rehearsal studio and saying “Oh sick, you guys have a band too??? Thats pretty cool, I make a little music myself.”

    JM Morey and his generation of vigneron really created the Burgundy that we love today. As I was pulling the pebbles out of my beard from when my chin had been in the dirt, I stopped to realize what was actually in front of me. The past Jean Marc, the present CCM, and the future Mathis C-M, three generations of Burgundian winemakers working in the grand cru vines, a perfect encapsulation of what these wines mean here. Family.

    CCM taking a picture of her father JM Morey next to the press with her Criots-Batard.

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