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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  • At PYCM/CCM the red wine making is largely overseen by Caroline.

    As I said before its not that PY doesn’t do the reds and CM doesn’t do the whites, but they support each other and work side by side.

    Stylistically Caroline acknowledges that red wines from Chassagne aren’t really considered to be within the pantheon of great Burgundian pinot noir, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t trying to produce wines of substance, quality, and a sense of place. In terms of our process just like the whites its super simple, Caroline sort of sheepishly explained to me that the reason she doesn’t do X,Y, or Z technique is not because she’s opposed to them, but truly she just does what she knows.

    Red Sorting line

    As with the whites the grapes are harvested in the morning and brought to the winery. We do not ask or allow the harvest workers to drop fruit in the vineyard. This is because in previous vintages when they did drop in the vineyard not enough fruit comes back. Now PY/CM prefer to just sort out the cut we don’t want ourselves. Mostly we’re looking for unripe clusters, vin jaune and millerandage. Some of this pinot noir fruit though is absolutely amazing. The 100+ year old Santenay VV from the Colin family were maybe the best pinot grapes I’ve ever tried, but we don’t have grand cru rouge.

    With the reds assuming a good vintage with lots of juice like 2018, Caroline prefers to keep about 1/3 of the stems. These and pretty much all of the measurements around the winery need to be taken with a grain of salt as we aren’t actually doing measurements, mostly just eyeballing it.

    We don’t crush the grapes either by stomping or mechanically at this point. The berries get crushed just in the transport and under their own weight. The whole clusters as well as de-stemmed berries and any free run juice are pumped into large stainless vats to macerate and ferment.

       During this time we remortgage in the morning and pigéage at night to keep the chapeau moist and the skins in contact with the juice. After 4-6 days we begin some light treading of the chapeau at night. FYI fermenting pinot is the worlds best moisturizer…

      Caroline punching down

      Adrien and PY stomping

    Once Caroline is happy with the extraction and the fermentations are complete we barrel, which I don’t have pictures of because were just managing ferments right now.

    As for the PYCM Rosé the fruit is all from Santenay comes in and in the only difference in our process we actually press the fruit for the rosé. We do not take any of the larger solids into the tank and try and stabilize the juice as quickly as possible to get it off any finer material to keep the color nice and light. PY laughed when I told him the price of the Rosé in the US and explained “This is insane! Its a wine meant for hot-tubs and bbq…”

    So now that we’re basically just in the cave I’ll be making some producer visits to other domaine specifically today in the Côtes-de-Nuits so I can hopefully gather some perspective on the vintage up there as well.

    There so much else to write about, I could do a lot of “lifestyle” stuff here regarding what its like to live and work in France but I don’t want to be too self indulgent in thinking the community is interested in my thoughts on eating tripe and charcuterie for breakfast every day for 3 weeks.

    Pro Tip bring lots of Zantac.

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