You may be wondering how the Burgundians celebrate the finish of the ordeal that is the vendange which, despite its nuances, no vigneron would call “enjoyable work”. ‘With style’ is one of the many locutions not fitting for the direct aftermath of cutting the last grape as what ensued was a brutal mud/grape fight from which no one emerged unscathed. I should have been forewarned by the number of teens and children (of the workers and the Bouzereaus) that had arrived on the last day for work that it was going to be a messy finish. After peace was made Jean Marie tied a traditional wreath to the top of his van. This is to let people know that we had finished the vendange, although it seems a bit superfluous considering what happened next. After cramming god knows how many people into our people carrier (my guess is around 14), with music blaring and chants of “c’est le van de l’ambiance” we set off in our motorcade. With bottles of wine passing around and the trucks doing a ‘call and reply’ style tooting of the horn continuously at people, we headed for the centre ville. It was like unmalicious football yobbery at its finest as any passers-by received a massive jeer, originating from a “we’ve finished and you haven’t” attitude (despite ironically ours being one of the last to finish in Meursault, due to there being two domaines: Jean-Marie and Vincent). Once in the town our truck split off to complete a 10 lap course of the fountain/roundabout centrepiece of the village. As we were completing our final lap one of the members of the other bus (one of the Bouzereau family, no names mentioned) had dived into the fountain and was later seen running through town mooning us and spectators…
Following the group photo several of us ran back up to the Meursault fountain for a quick swim after which Antoine, Louis, Perine and I walked, drenched and filthy, back to chez Vincent to get changed for the fête de la vendange.
The fete began with Cremant and a performance by a troupe of Trompette de Chasse players decked in traditional uniforms, which included Vincent, Antoine and Jean-Marie. This was followed by a fine meal accompanied by an assortment of both domaine’s wines, the highlight being several bottles of 1997 Clos des Fietres Grand Cru, which were seductive with strong game notes and plums running through. Choruses of songs led either by Vincent or Paul (his nephew) were a definite highlight and created a great energy for the night. These songs, I quickly realized, were crude to say the least; similar to graphic rugby songs, to which everyone knew the lyrics. A “Ban Bourguignon” chant must have been called at least 20 times, each time more raucous then the last. The night continued with dancing and ended at around 5 o’clock in the morning, leaving me just enough sleep to collect myself to attempt a good impression for Monsieur Lignier that afternoon!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vincent and everyone in the Meursault vendange once again for a unique, unforgettable experience.