Hand-picking, or Vendanger à la main, is the gentlest and most respectful way to collect the hard-earned fruit of Clos Marey-Monge’s labor. It’s also a great way to connect and interact closely with the vineyard. The fact that it’s also a lot of fun, is just a bonus.
After a duration of 95-110 days ; from the moment of first flowering ; the grapes of Clos Marey-Monge reach the stage of optimal maturity, and are ripe for picking. However, it isn’t until our winemakers examine each of the five plots individually by eating bunches whole ; tasting the grape on their tongues and inspecting their ripeness with their finely-tuned senses ; that the vineyard team are given the green light to initiate harvest, or vendanger. Once the first plot is deemed ready, a team of 30-strong vineyard staff descend into the Clos at sunrise to officially launch harvest. This exciting moment usually happens sometime between the second and third week of September.
VENDANGES À LA MAIN
All of the Pinot Noir grapes in Clos Marey-Monge are hand-picked, bunch-by-bunch, by the well-trained vineyard team. Every year we venture into the vines, on a specific day chosen by Emmanuel, our winemaker, and start snipping and sorting. It’s thirsty work, but it’s the only way to truly connect with the land, and feel the energy of Clos Marey-Monge at her peak.
Hand-harvesting isn’t just about respecting the Clos, or keeping the grapes whole for as long as possible ; although that of course is important. It’s about the sense of community you experience during harvest with your fellow pickers, the intimacy you share with the Clos, walking out among its vines and feeling the heavy weight of a bunch of grapes in your hands. Many veteran hand-harvesters are hardened to the break-breaking work of picking grapes. But for the newly initiated it’s exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure.
Harvest: The grapes are ready for Vendanges 2016
FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST
Our time-honored method of hand-picking the grapes is taught by Emmanuel Sala and his vineyard team every morning to any new vineyard staff. Emmanuel’s method involves cutting whole bunches at the top of the stem using sharp secateurs. The grapes are then loaded into small 12kg plastic or wooden baskets ; and transported to the sorting table in our onsite cuverie, keeping the grapes safe and whole for as long as possible.
Hand-Picked: Charlotte shows us expertly how to collect grapes
“When picking the grapes, we hold the stalk above the bunch, and cut them where the stalk joins the lateral root, leaving the stalk attached. We do not touch the grapes. The same care occurs on the sorting table to make sure only mature, healthy and whole fruit goes into our wines.”
Emmanuel Sala, Winemaker
Transport: The grapes are transported from the vineyard to the onsite Sorting Table
THE SORTING TABLE
Only the finest fruit from each of Clos Marey-Monge’s plots are carefully selected in the field and then hand-sorted and destemmed by the cuverie team on our vibrating sorting table. The sorting table, or destemmer, removes the stems from the clusters and lightly crushes the grapes. Only full, healthy, and perfectly ripe berries are used. Any damaged grapes are taken off the table. The solid stems, skins, pulp and seeds of the grapes not selected for the fermentation vats are collected. They do not go to waste. Quite the opposite. They are used to make our pomace brandy, Marc de Bourgogne.
Sorting Table: Emmanuel inspects the fruit of Clos Marey-Monge
Finally, and always on the day of picking ; the grapes from each individual terroir are gently transported direct from the sorting table and straight into separate stainless steel vats, labeled by plot ; so as to always respect the diversity of each terroir and the uniqueness, and peculiarities, of the vintage. The grapes then begin their next journey: fermentation.