A year on the Hill of Corton


How will the Covid Harvest of 2020 be remembered?

Well I’ve been sitting here, in quarantine, so have had time to think and write.

I made a quick dash on 31 August and returned on September 4th, a 5 day trip that would not force me to quarantine in France if Mr Macron responded to Boris in like fashion again.

A short but delightful visit to Laurent-Perrier

I had only found out by research before my trip to Champagne in early July that he allowed corroborated business trips up to 5 days duration.

Anyway I missed the Côte de Beaune harvest but caught the tail end of Nuits up in Vosne and Gevrey. The word you will have heard no doubt is that the harvest is small but excellent if you make good use of your sorting table.

Triage at Domaine Champy

Since my travels to the Chalonnaise I really enjoy the break from green stripes going this way and that. Its nice to see a cow now and then so it was enjoyable ride except for the homeward rush of Côte d’Or pickers anxious for me to eat their dust.

Its not 2003 by a long way, or 1976 but they know the wine they will make they will be proud of.

My first visit hot from Dijon Gare having spent 8 hours travelling in a mask with Eurostar’s idea of social distancing spoilt by people not sitting where they should and finding that SNCF was rather similar. I had 30 minutes free of steamed up glasses to get to L’Etang-Vergy in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits.

Laurent Delaunay gets my week off to a good start

At an 19c château in L’Etang-VergyLaurent Delaunay is rebuilding the House of Edouard Delaunay having bought the house, winery and brand name back from Jean-Claude Boisset, it will be worth following his progress I’m sure.

The rest of the week from Tuesday early (7.15 in Nantoux ) to midday Friday, was a patchwork of visits up and down the Côte d’Or, to Chablis for a quick visit to Chablis and another to the Maconnais.

In Hautes Côtes de Beaune the winemaker previously at Louis Latour and Domaine de Lambrays, Boris Champy has found his dream organic and biodynamic estate in Nantoux. It was set up by Didier Monchovet in the 1980s and Didier was looking for a suitable buyer. Well he certainly found one. Domaine Boris Champy will be getting regular visits from me !

Both Laurent and Boris are raring to make the most of what the Hautes Côtes can offer in a warmer climate.

Meanwhile down the road in Pommard Michael Baum is spending his Silicon Valley millions ( it looks more like billions ! ) in renovating the vineyards and facilities at Château de Pommard, a series property that has not had much stability until Michael arrived. Stability may not have arrived yet actually. A huge crane, the sound of falling walls and the cutting of new stone and a large whole in the ground man there will be work going on here for a while and winemaker Emmanuel Sala is in temporary accommodation out at St Marie Le Blanche for a little while. I can imagine Burgundy is going to have an interesting few years ahead.

Winemaker Emmanuel Sala is happy with 2020

Another American, Mark O’Connell has teamed up with Pierre Meurgey to run Domaine de La Chapelle based at Château de Bligny to develop an estate around the Volnay premiere cru vineyard. It has recently caught the attention of Wine Spectator.

Mark O’Connell checks fermentation at his Domaine Clos de la Chapelle

After the day spent with these three it was off to try to get a picture of Frank Grux as he coped with the harvest at Olivier Lelaive. Always a warm welcome from Frank despite his discomfort in front my camera !

Frank Grux says its time for an apero.

Wednesday. Another early start to get more at Château de Pommard before returning to see Boris Champy for a little cassecroute of coffee and crepes with his young and enthusiastic team and to be introduced to Boris’s new acquisition, a state of the art vertical press and shoot some pipeage a pied.

Pigeage the hard (but safe ) way.
Bringing in the Pinot

. Then I head south through the Chalonnaise to see how my friends down there have got on before heading for my Maconnais rendez-vous with Gautier Thevenet in Quintaine before he starts his harvest

First up Clemece and Baptiste Dubrulle at Domaine de la Folie in Rully.

Happy its turned out well !

In Rully itself the Jaquesons finished yesterday.

Domaine de Villaine in Bouzeron still have pickers to feed.
Domaine Paul Jaqueson and friends in their “bubble”

Always late pickers, the Thevenets. Gautier’s father Jean explained when I first met him nearly 20 years ago that it used to be the way in the Maconnais.

Gautier Thevenet impatient to prepare for tomorrow’s harvest

Afterwards I return north via St Vallerian to see Didier carton-Vachet then to Rosey to collect some demi-sec goats cheese from Marie-Therese Bourjon and sign her copy of the book then on to Mercurey to Meix-Foulot to see how they enjoyed the “4 Seasons” and find myself signing another for Michel, another “rencontre par hasard”

Didier is always smiling !
In Rosey, just follow the signs.
Marie-Therese, super fromage de chevre.
Touches,one of my favourite views.
A stageur at Meix-Foulot has bought a souvenir,

A 6 pm cancellation allows me to meet my good friend from Bourgogne Aujourdhui magazine, Thierry Gaudillere and introduce him to the delights of an Italian made pizza in Mercurey at Basilicum. I was a regular there during my Chalonnaise visits, along with Mme Michelot’s bakery over the road and I wanted to give them both a copy of my book.

Thursday. The new Boisset winery, spectacularly as it is,covered in grass and vines I found the interior equally impressive. Greg Patriat has been in place there 17 years he tells me. He occasionally reminds me of previous visits as we tour his new facility. Its been a time he is very proud of.

Greg Patriat in his new “office” at Boisset

But its his busy time and he’s trusting me to work quickly and head off back to Meursault to catch Eric Germain at Domaine Vincent Girardin. Its another brief visit but its not long since I spent a day there for Vigneron magazine so I know Eric and the estate well. There’s even time for a coffee with Eric and marketing man Marco.

Eric Germain at Domaine Vincent Girardin.

Next, quickly back to Comblanchien to meet a new face for a change. And also, as it turns out, an older face too. I had read about Camille Thiriet on Jancis Robinson.com and decided I should get some portraits. She was busy with décuvage and pipeage when I arrived so I shot some action. Who was there, giving a hand and some advice but Bernard Noblet once of Domaine de la Romanée Conti and now retired. It speaks volumes to find that sort of help on hand.

Bernard and Camille doing some decuvage.

So to Chablis to see Didier Seguier at William Fevre after lunch. His harvest had just finished but his time was still precious. I have been coming to Burgundy for a long time and my reward is that I am taken seriously by such busy men. But you still must know what you want and work quickly.

A reminder of the 2020 vintage and William Fevre’s rigorous approach

Its a long drive to Chablis and back for half an hour’s work but I was happy to take a leisurely drive back to Beaune and have time to see old friends. Mounir from Lucien Le Moine is down in Châteauneuf du Pape taking care of harvest down there so I double back to Ladoix to see how things are going with Pierre Cornu. Its smiles all round there, what a lovely family they are. Ladoix is full of strong family domaines. I suddenly find its beer’o’clock and head over to see Serge the bee keeper to have a quick one and see if he has honey left. Sadly there’s no one in so I do a quick tour of Corton Hill where harvest has finished it seems. Can it really be seven years since I was working on the Corton book….?

Pierre Cornu and the next generation, Lucie and Paul
Pierre Cornu’s winemaking timetable.

Friday. I’m off home today after a morning touring the Côte de Nuits in search activity and a visit to Domaine de l’Arlot to photograph Geraldine Godot before heading for Dijon station.

Christophe Roumier in full swing so I don’t hang around !
Guillon’s Gevrey-Chambertin Champonnet
Odile at Domaine Michel Noellat in Vosne – the spirit of Burgundy 2020
Geraldine Godot at Domaine L’Arlot in Premeaux-Prissy unmasked !
I found some interesting light but the location was tricky !

Here there are a number of delays caused by an electrical problem and the concourse is filling up. Everyone has a mask on despite the warmth and you just have to find a quiet, socially distanced corner and hope for the best.

Fortunately the delay causes me no problems at Gare du Nord. Everyone is reminded to complete their locator forms ready to get into the UK. Trouble is if you chose to ignore the form there seems to be no one at St Pancras to enforce it. I take the tube home to start my two weeks’ quarantine amid a train full of people not bothering to social distance or wear masks properly, if at all….

In Don McCullin’s footsteps

October last year brought the weekend of Paulée de Chalon-sur-Saône with its vignerons’ parade, the big dinner, the exhibition of photos from my Chalonnaise book in the city’s streets and the opportunity for me and Emmanuel Mere and to play authors signing books. You never know what that will throw up. Well it was more of throwing down than up !

Friday evening’s tastings in Rue Luxembourg went well. I had brought my wife and daughter to enjoy the weekend’s fun and games and it was a great opportunity for them to meet some of the Chalonnaise’s finest. Vignerons not gendarmerie I hasten to add. Sadly the next day dawned damp and just got wetter. Not a book-buying morning and hardly an afternoon to parade through the old town following banners. But it takes more than rain to dampen spirits in Chalon-sur Saône. You’d have to go a long way to find more wet people smiling ! Sadly it was a problematic afternoon for the French TV crew filming for a popular travel programme. The Paulée itself was splendid and we were pleased to be sharing top table with Mr Gilles Platret, the mayor and a party of visitors from the Jura.

Friday and the powers that be in the Chalonnaise vineyards gather for a quick one before the official start of the weekend’s celebrations
No not posed, just lucky ! I found them the year later at the same event to get permission.
A little street entertainment !
Saturday afternoon. The guys from Montagny are glad of their cloaks this year, but are still smiling in true Chalonnais style !
The music goes on.
Rain, camera, action !
Lucky brass does not rust !
Huntsman are always part of the scene here, even in St Vincent’s Cathedral
“A table” at the Paulée
The brilliant winemakers’ choir making their TV debut at the Paulée .

Home 24 hours and then off to Argentina ! Arrive Tuesday, leave Thursday was the plan…… Visiting Catena Zapata I was hoping to get a portrait of the boss Laura Catena but sadly she was elsewhere. Never mind, I got to stay a couple of nights in Mendoza and pick up a Messi football shirt for my grandson as well as enjoying roaming the town for a couple of evenings. I wonder what its like in daylight ! I left before dawn and did not leave the vineyards until sunset.

You get great hospitality in South America and very well looked after.

“Another coffee, Jon ?”

The winery view west.
And find Don McCullen has been here too !
Pretty strong light but little on the vines…
Hitting the road to the Adrianna vineyard at election time.
A hole in the ground, one thing it is good to shoot when the sun is high !
Have a cup of mate while you wait.
Back to cellar.
Back in Mendoza the big match is on tonight, but I’ll be asleep ! Another early morning awaits.
Perhaps another time….
But first supper in the street. Wherever it was and whatever I ate and drank, I went back for more the next day !

Sweeping Mendoza streets with a palm leaf.
Another early morning at the Pyramid

After another good morning I was off at 11am to Weinert in Mendoza for a quick portrait en route for the airport and home.

HubertWeber and boss Iduna Weinert and, yes that says 2004 !
Any way you look at it, I have a long wait.

Iduna kindly dropped me at the Mendoza airport in time to do some lunch…

Yes a freelance does exist but it comes at a price – and its not worth it !
If there’s nowhere to sit in the airport, try the chapel…
The Latam team that found me my hotel !

It came courtesy of LATAM as my flight home had not only been delayed but rerouted. There were problems at Santiago where my flight was starting due to riots. So after a long wait we were flown to Chile for the night to catch a direct BA flight the next morning. So a safe bed at the Holiday Inn.. ( 2 king size doubles actually ) over the road from the airport, ( “don’t worry sir, you are perfectly safe, the army have surrounded the hotel and the CIA are on the floor above…… oh, and the restaurant closes in 30 minutes….” )

No football on the restaurant TV, just riots
Another “free meal” but not the beer that was oh so needed !

The problem was they gave you $30 US and the menu was in Chilean $ pesos… That lead to a slight “discussion” in the morning !

I do wish I’d bought some at Santiago airport as a souvenir of a surreal journey home !

Livres en Vignes 2019

I can only say blogging has not been a priority for some time. I am irregular at best and do not want the expression of my thoughts and pictures to become a treadmill, a virtual pet that needs feeding constantly. I hope to share, but on my terms. It is an outlet for me, not a marketing tool.

Coronavirus has brought normal life to a halt, so I have time to catch up.

It will give me a chance to relive, and reflect on, an interesting few months that now seem part of a former life I have lost contact with. Maybe it will bring it back to life and keep me going. We all need to keep going. We all need to realise the necessity to adapt, to change not only our lives, but ourselves. To reexamine our values from the new perspective forced on us. We have made mistakes, taken wrong turnings. Sometimes we do it out of thoughtlessness or selfishness. But we can start to improve things by doing the simple things with more thought for each other. Those small kindnesses that when we are able to perform them make others feel better and us too. We must appreciate what others do for us, how important are these small things that we are too busy to notice.

If we were worried about global warming, nature has told us off, put us in detention and given us time to adjust our thinking and behaviour. It seems as if it all comes down to a choice between possessions and people. Perhaps its time to worry less about what WE need and recognise the needs of others.

.Its not the economy, stupid, its your neighbour that counts. Not what he has and you don’t, but what you have and he does n’t.

Four years after my first experience with Une Année en Corton, I was asked back to this annual book fair to sit behind a pile of my second book “4 Seasons in Côte Chalonnaise”. It had been a much less traumatic birth as I was prepared for the labour of the final hours. However Laurent Poyol the designer was great to work with and was as kind as one can be when there are pictures to be culled. I took a look at initial layouts, rich in the designer’s input and recommended him to look at Ralph Gibson’s book of black and white photographs “The Spirit of Burgundy”. Beautifully clean pages prevent any distractions for the eye. Of course Gibson’s is an art book, the unintelligible preliminary text tells you that, so no captions are required.

4 Seasons is not “Art”, it is intended to communicate on a somewhat lower level. In an interview with Journal Saône et Loire, Emmanuel Mère the writer of the text, describes the book as a “vulgarisation”. Not a kind word to use on a book you have have contributed to I thought. On consulting numerous sources I found a definition that left me feeling a little less slandered: “to make intelligible.” In fact what users anything that is unintelligible I ask myself. Art in its many forms is, I confess, sometimes unintelligible. Paul Delaroche thought that the Daguerreotype had killed painting in 1839. I did n’t, it just sent it mad ! Or at least very angry. Its as if photography sent art or painting into a sulk and it would no longer talk to people wanted intelligibility. Of course photography, however much the English photographer Snowdon saw it as a craft, has become an art form and cut off relations with its forebears. So I am not an artist. I hope to introduce, to explain, to clarify, to admire,to amuse. But not to confuse.

Livres en Vignes you may recall from my last post on the subject is a wonderful weekend of meeting book buyers and authors under the hallowed roof and at the wonderful tables of Château du Clos de Vougeot.

Great fun and a “novel” experience for an Englishman ! Let the pictures tell their story…

Optimistic pile of books
This will do nicely !
Cécile Tremblay and Philippe Charlopin are interested in my neighbour’s book.
French author from “Central Casting “?
A visit from Les Muzards of Santenay
Apero ?
The Japanese love books about Burgundy
Jacky Rigaux draws the crowds
As does Jean-Robert Pitte
Can’t argue with that !
Meanwhile the kitchen is hard at work preparing for dinner tonight
Summoned by trumpets !

Time to mingle before dinner.
Some of us have been intronised !
Cheese madame …?
Time for a song
Or a speech
Or a chat with Jean-Nicolas Meo
Then another song…
Before the traditional finale
And Loic and the rest play a departing fanfare !
Everyone on their buses please !
Sunday morning we are ready to go again !
Under the watchful eyes of the monks.
and Vincent from L’Athenaeum !

Leonardo da Vinci on Wine

” I believe that great happiness awaits those men who are born where good wines are to be found” said Leonardo.

I have visited the Côte Chalonnaise for my book nine times since last March and after twenty years focussed on the Côte d’Or and I quickly noticed the change. A landscape that is somehow more intriguing, however much you vineyards, but also a greater openness among the people I met. I realised the pressure that exists in the Côte d’Or and its absence south of Chagny.

I won’t try to explain it, I expect you can work it out for yourself. I find the Chalonnaise a more relaxing experience. It is certainly not brought about because people don’t care or try. Believe me they do, but somehow they manage to perform the trick of smiling at the same time ! Even the farmer, feeding his cattle their winter feed in September because of a very dry summer, has an air of acceptance and can smile.

It seems Leonardo da Vinci sums it up for me. Note he does not say “great”. Chasing extremes is perhaps not the route to happiness for most people.

After the trip in September to cover the harvest, came the attempt to represent autumn without too many clichés but beauty is beauty and the colours and light are irresistible. It was good to observe the Paulée de Chalon from the outside and watch my Burgundian photographer Michel Joly and English wine writer and photographer Tim Atkin MW being intronised and entering into the fun of the event. It happened to coincide with a motor rally that blocked off sections of the Vaux valley at times and also lead to someone crashing into a parcel of Faiveley’s vineyards on the Rully to Mercurey road !

For winter I was intent on catching the harshness of the weather, so I spent what time was available in December watching a forecast which showed nothing but rain. So I stayed at home. January would bring a weekend away for the local St Vincent celebrations the week before the Tournante at Vezelay near Chablis. Its a wonderful place but there was need to be there for a book on the Chalonnaise.

It was impossible to be in 5 places at once for the parades, masses and meals but I somehow managed Mercurey, Rully and Montagny, all quite different in character.

I got some frost on my last morning and plenty of fog but no snow. I suspect I will have to do without it….. I am off shortly for the February trip with my fingers crossed. It is already a struggle to fit all the pictures into the space I have and book design is a complex thing.

Life lately has been full of distractions, not least the book itself and I don’t seem to be able to finish this post ! The experience has been wonderful and I just have the time to write it all down so I’ll just bombard you with pictures and hope they entice you looking further at the idea of visiting and tasting the Côte Chalonnaise.

The winemakers take to the streets of Chalon to celebrate the Paulée
The intronised trio of photographers can’t seem to choose which glass they want! Justo Rodriguez, Michel Joly and Tim Atkin.
The winemakers’ choir put in some rehearsal before the Paulée dinner.
Not everyone enjoys the band !
Winemakers’ choir practice…
Pruning in the Vaux valley
Pruning in Mercurey
A new way. These pruning are going to be recycled, not burnt 🙂
But they still toast barrels.
“Lulu” made this sculpture in St Vallerin for the Vincent Tournante celebrations in 2002, it was built to last, so was he !
Unexpected encounter at Jambles !
Another in Mercurey.
Quite a downpour on the plain east of Meursault
St Vincent’s day 2019 in Montagny
Serious business 1
Serious business 2
Ready for the parade in Mercurey
Montagny still eating at Buxy
Back to work, taking care of the future in Mercurey.
“A pied” in Chalon-sur-Saône
Chalon’s famous son, Nicephore Niepce started life here.
Bottling it !
Celebrating it!

The journey over, the job done. Almost. Now its time to edit a year’s pictures and put together the book. More triage, more culling, this is the hard part. Thank you to everyone in the Côte Chalonnaise for their great kindness, cooperation and good humour, its been a wonderful journey. Please look out for “A Year in the Côte Chalonnaise in the autumn

Anyway the good news is that a shot from the book has already won me the Pink Lady/Errazuriz wine photographer of the year 2019 and it could hardly be a less glamorous image. But then the Chalonnaise is about reality not glamour and I love it. Leonardo, you were so right !

Why do we drink Burgundy ?

The first bottle of Burgundy I bought, over 25 years ago, was an inexpensive white Mâcon from a co-op. I can only say it was not love at first taste. A later tasting of Mercurey red on its home territory did not lead to a purchase.

In the early days of any relationship, ignorance and inexperience are big factors in our decision making. As far as Burgundy is concerned my later introduction to it was  much more pleasurable, but then I was not having to struggle with the idea of any financial commitment.

Subsequent encounters have been easier as I gained a little knowledge and experience. However the reassurance of a “brand”, be it a vineyard, producer or “millesime” was useful guide as long as one stayed in the same area. For me and no doubt many others that was Chablis and the Côte d’Or, with occasional surprising forays into the Maconnais.

Not being vinously curious or needing to make regular purchases, I stayed where I was comfortable.  Until last year, when I was sent to the Chalonnais to photograph a few winemakers.

While I had come across very good individual producers in Givry and Rully, the other appellations were unknown to me.

Well, Montagny was a revelation, Mercurey was a surprise and Bouzeron a delight.

We should remember what changes there have been in winemaking over the last twenty years.

So I wonder what keeps so many of these wines a secret… Ignorance and inexperience was my excuse but I suspect for many it is the reassurance we gain from a high price and the constant repetition of “brands” by experts in the media. If we have the money we are tempted by the caché of these “brands”, but how many have the experience and knowledge to justify our choices. We are “sitting on the shoulders of giants” and following received wisdom.

As fashions change around the world and scarcity becomes a factor in increasingly high prices some people are protesting that their beloved Burgundy is no longer within reach.

Well all I can say is, go south, to the Chalonnais and start tasting.

I have been working there for a week every month since last April for my next book and I can tell you there is a lot to be discovered and enjoyed. Winemaking is as serious and as committed as further north but life is more real and relaxed and I’ve heard more than one winemaker whistling. High end it may not be, but its certainly more fun.

Time to think about why we drink Burgundy……

Meanwhile here is an introduction to the Côte Chalonnaise and what I found.

More to follow, but the best stuff goes in the book, out next September in French but with an English edition for those 20pp of text amongst the 220pp of photographs.

Vaux Valley in March
St Denis de Vaux in Spring
My “canteen” in Givry
Working above the mist at Montagny. Or is it Napa ?
Rully and its château. Have n’t seen much rain since,,,,
I fancy something simple tonight.
An artistic blacksmith in Buxy
Drama st Bouzeron
Making Brioche at Russilly during their Fête du Pain
A rustily local on his way to the entertainment
Elsewhere, at Lalhue a contest for working horses means the owners do the work !
Domaine de la Folie preparing the cellar for harvest.
Bringing in the Chardonnay at Domaine de la Monette
Hurry up, the rain’s coming !
Told you so !
Punching down at Domaine Joussier

Grands Jours and exploring the Chalonnais

On paper “Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne” is not really the best time ( March ) for a photographer to visit Burgundy. The vigneron are busy with their bi-enniel home  fixture with the world’s wine buyers and wine press. They must be transported, fed, entertained and, apparently, protected from the elements.  I’m told one journalist arrived at Mercurey during the deluge on Thursday and, on seeing the next available asking space was some distance from the venue, turned round and went away!  Well he missed a good tasting, excellent value and an excellent lunch ( prepared for 950 visitors !).  The old adage of rain following a view of Mont Blanc should have made him think of taking the navette from Beaune on Thursday.

The week began as usual at Dijon station at lunchtime an I headed for a session with Gregory and Antoine Gouges in Nuits.

Consider how many people have rung that bell,including all the Burgundy aficionados you could name.

Gregory and Antoine finally relax !

Tuesday: Its the Palais de Congrés in Beaune today to get mt GJs accreditation and hopefully use the press room’s wifi to email my Gouges portrait back to UK. Then cruise the Volnay, Beaune, Pommard tastings for old friends and new subjects.

BIVB press room facilities.

Brian Sieve from de Montille and François Bitouzet discuss Volnay

Jean-Marc Cachat reminds me where we met last time.

Yes he was planing new chardonnay vines above Beaune, not Pommard as I thought. Close to the border no doubt !

While Pierre Cornu’s cousin Manu holds the fort in Beaune as he is at Terriors de Corton in Latour’s cuverie.

Look what I find at Terroirs de Corton and I meet a lady “subjugée” by the pictures !

The Latour cuverie, a national monument seems to be where everyone wants to be.

I’m lucky to catch up with the new man in charge at Bonneau du Martray and get a few pictures

Off to Meursault’s renovated leper hospital and a greeting from Marie-Anne Bouzereau-Gruere.

Meursault has its own show and expects plenty of visitors

Quite a sandwich at Meursault !

That’s enough crowds for the day, I’m off to the south in search of some drama !

An odd corner in Bouzeron.

Wednesday promised to be the best day of the week and I’m lucky to have a B+B in the vines

Mist over Buxy.

with a grandstand view over Buxy and I was lucky to have a guide as Thierry Daventure from the B+B to take me around Montagny.

Montagny les Buxy. Home to some of my favourite whites.

Working above the mist at Montagny.

With Jully les Buxy in the distance.

A lunchtime walk in Buxy.

metalwork in Buxy 1

Metal work in Buxy 2

José in Moroges.

What goes with a good Chalonnais red…?
Charolais !

Exploring Givry.

Not sure anyone’s home though.

But plenty to see.

The perfect time to tour the Vaux valley.

St Denis de Vaux.

Only shadows in the streets at St Jean de Vaux.

Thursday in Mercurey brought a different story…

Water into wine ..?

What they are all here for.

Paul Jacqueson serving wine at lunchtime.

No shortage of choice.

Anyone for cheese?

Something sweet and sticky?

Have pencil, will travel.

Heading off to Rully I see a Mercurey name I recognise.

Champ St Martin on the road to Rully.

Vincent discusses Rully.

Friday. Homeward bound after a final call at the GJs

Burning prunings at Gevrey – after the rain.

Inside at the GJs at Gevrey

Gendarmes from Gevrey told me they were just looking…  So was I ! Time to catch my train.

Burgundy: changing places. .

Onward and upward is a good theme. The last few months have seen some changes. Of course Burgundy changes seamlessly most of the timeDomaines are born or disappear as their owners do.

New hyphenated names appear just when you are not looking. What has been one domaine for hundreds of years can be divided by siblings. The tax man has to be paid so vineyards are sold off. New domaines are born, others are strengthened. With the wines achieving such fame and unheard of prices a  leading domaine can change hands of excruciating sums of money partly because the majority do not come on the market but just stay within families. But the increasing price of the land means that a livelihood that is sometimes precarious, as we have seen all to often in recent years, produces for many an income that bears little relation to the value of the property. That cannot be a good thing. Sooner or later even the successful estates come onto the market if there are problems of succession and the region suffers a small tremor as new forces are felt.

Even when a succession is secure we still lose great winemakers. But we all have our allotted span…

For these reasons there have been new faces appearing at familiar addresses over the past year.

It seems  like quite a shake up but Burgundy with its long history has a way of just continuing in its usual way. Some people worry new people will change Burgundy’s direction but that direction is controlled not so much by people as its history and its nature. Wine makers throughout Burgundy know that they do not control their lives. Their terroir does.

Chardonnay in Pommard..?! Monsieur Cachat says “Why not, this is Beaune !”

Meanwhile Denis Berthault in Fixin has handed over to daughter Amelie but is still helping out a bit.

Thierry Brouin is saying goodbye at Clos Des Lambrays after 37 years.

Thierry will stay on while Boris Champy late of Louis Latour settles in

And this “ecusson” will be coming down under new owners.

Sylvain Pitiot too has retired, I shall miss his patience, smile, craggy face, piercing eyes and those glasses

New man Jacques Devauges comes all the way from Domaine de L’Arlot

This memorial in Domaine Leflaive’s Bâtard Montrachet marks Anne-Claude’s sad passing.

Brice de la Morandiere is in charge now.

So there are developments and new investments.

But the ethos remains the same.

So these promotional thermometers are a rarity but speak of times past. The girl in the vineyard look as if the pay was pretty good and the work easier !

As do the windows in the former cuverie at Close de Vougeot.

Elsewhere things go on as usual as Franck Grux, Olivier Leflaive and Jean Soubeyrand pose in the shade of a Puligny roundabout.

Jerome Flous and Erwan Faiveley show me round the Faiveley cellars in Suits St Georges.

The tourists make the most of June sunshine.

And Pierre Duroché of Gevrey-Chambertin indulges in some evening climbing above Chambolle-Musigny.


Plus ça change…..



Arinzano, a Vino de Pago in Navarra.

At Arinzano they are very proud to be a Vino de Pago, a vineyard recognised as a specific site, a superior appellation within an appellation is the simplest way to put it. Their name may not be one  you are not familiar with but wearing my non-expert hat I loved it, especially the white ( my usual weakness ).  My trip to the estate in Navarra was the repeat of a visit for the Finest Wines of N Spain book,which was in itself a wonderful eye-opening experience. The estate is now under new ownership but the gate and its view are still stunning, only this time I arrived after a two hour taxi ride from Bilbao which should not be seen as a drawback but very much a bonus. The scudding dark clouds were too. Its a dramatic spot that would have looked a little tame under a clear blue sky. The guest accommodation was perfect, with vines all around and I was spoilt with lunch and dinner at a variety of suitably good but relaxed local restaurants in the company of the wine maker, Diego Ribbert and  the general manager Manuel Lozada. What could go wrong…? Is n’t there always a downside, a hiccup …?

No not here.

That was saved for another job….

The kind of shot that needs the light coming from just the right direction and means an early morning.

On the other hand the location of the vineyards in a valley running north to south means the ‘hero’ shot will have to wait until mid morning which gives me time to get breakfast before I scramble up through the scrub and thorns to a suitable viewpoint.

Breakfast, deserved and needed. In Spain lunch is mid afternoon.

3 cameras ready to go.

Dramatic light means heavy rain is on the way.

The valley channels the wind and the rain moves on. Rot is not a problem here.

Eventually it rains and its time for lunch.

Followed by some indoor work in the cellars.

Clearly looking forward to having their picture taken, José, Manuel and Diego.

More of the team Diego with Ana and Iván.

My fun transport among the chardonnay !

An attempt to do a slightly different ‘bottle shot’ Shooting a moving target and getting the labels sharp was not as easy as I had thought !

Ana realises that modelling is hard work !

Coffee and cake was our reward.

Manuel hard at work in the cellar.


Petit Village

If I have a favourite part of Bordeaux I think it is St Emilion, in spite of its touristic tendencies, but when asked to go to Pomerol I was not too unhappy!

I was off to Château Petit Village, a name I had often passed by and was going to spend a whole 24 hours exploring it and meet….. It looks a small property but then I don’t know Pomerol vineyards so well despite several visits. All the houses seem more like farmhouses than châteaux although some are grander than others. That of Lafleur would surprise most people, across the road as it is from the famous Petrus.

Anyway Petit Village at least has a small avenue of trees and modern extension. And some guest accommodation that is always so welcome. One glance  out of the window tells you whether to get up or not ! Of course its flat but there are no distractions, no frills. Everything is for the wine.

Diana meets me on the drive and I given the tour. The modern extension is impressive but simple, everything is functional and well thought through. I am left to wander the vines alone as the sun drops before showering and meeting up with Diana and her husband to have dinner in St Emilion. The next morning is grey and I’m grateful I made the most of the previous evening. I have only the morning to shoot some more portraits, the tasting room, barrel room and cuverie and time passes quickly until I am summoned to my taxi to return to Bordeaux. It seems there had hardly been time to blink but in fact it was a very pleasant opportunity to enjoy a little corner of Pomerol and friendly hospitality.

Château Petit Village in a sea of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Franc.

I think its Franc on the right….. or the left… no, on the left, definitely, I think.

The modern winery at Petit Village

Winery interior with individual tanks for each plot.

A view at dusk.

The “château”

Diana Berrouet-Garcia, the boss in her tasting room.


Checking the wind before spraying.

Its that easy to lift an empty barrel !




Au revoir at Clos Vougeot and goodbye to Paul Bocuse

Over close to twenty years I have been visiting Burgundy to photograph,  either to build my archive or to fulfill commissions. Consequently I have got to know many domaines. And I guess they have got to know me. Some relationships died on the vine, but most, happily, have flourished. It is sad when there is a parting, for whatever reason. I will miss Sylvain Pitiot at Close Tart and soon his neighbour at Domaine des Lambrays, Thierry Brouin is handing over his reins too.

In early June I was invited to the leaving party for Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière at Close Vougeot.

If you follow Burgundy you will think know all about the sale of Bonneau du Martray. But I doubt you do. I don’t but an internet  petition or crowd funding were never going to change the course of events. I have too much respect for the estate and everyone there to dissect events and gossip.

I had never been to a ” Cocktail dinatoire” but thought it best to pack my suit. Jean-Charles requested I leave my camera behind and I was all in favour of that. No doubt there would be plenty of people I knew to occupy me. So there were, but far more I did not. I was carrying my phone in order snatch a few souvenirs of this much anticipated evening and it came in quite useful. It proved impossible, until I was queueing to make my farewells, to speak to Jean-Charles and his wife and I found myself meeting more and more people I did not know and having to explain my presence.

Early in the evening my eye was caught by the Cuban boots of Bonneau’s vineyard manager Fabien so they were snapped and I started noticing the variety of footwear on display in the chateau’s gravelled courtyard. It seemed both an alternative way of recording the event that might amuse Jean-Charles and a good way of meeting anyone in interesting shoes!


Not yet crowded

Party over.

Paul Bocuse  R.I.P.

Today the chefs of France and elsewhere have gathered in Lyon to say farewell to Paul Bocuse.

Note that I do not have to explain who he was. Such are legends.

I was vey fortunate to meet him in April 1996 at his restaurant where I was photographing. I was on a 3/4 week assignment to shoot France’s Michelin 3* chefs’ and their restaurants. Back then it was a new area for me so there was a fair bit of trepidation in the blood stream. 3* chefs may be used to publicity but you don’t get 3* while suffering fools gladly. HoweverPaul Bocuse had seen it all and got the cordon. When he realised he was only my second chef subject (ever!) he was kindness and patience itself. Perhaps his great interest in photography helped him understand. I remember him setting up a magnificent shot full of copper pans and all kind of fare with himself and his cordoned chefs arrayed behind.

Having broken down all my kit and cleared the kitchen to prepare for service Bocuse invited me to sit at his table in the kitchen for lunch. Taking a trip to freshen up I spotted the shot I had just taken, hanging, framed in the corridor……

Over lunch I decided I had somehow to get another portrait, even if it meant a return trip. And it did.

However my second visit coincided with the arrival of the Bocuse giant chocolate Easter egg which he asked me to photograph. He then proceeded to snap me with his Leica. Surprise enough that was only only greater when, a few weeks later, 3  small autographed black and white prints arrived in the post !

I was not a famous photographer to be wooed, just a beginner, but he was a friendly, generous, kind and extremely helpful and thoughtful. He will be fondly remembered for much more than his food.

My 1996 Michelin guide contains 17 dedications from 3* chefs, here are the first two.