A year on the Hill of Corton


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?”

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.

Erwan 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.

Ornellaia and Gaggenau

What is the link here between these two? They sound like a pair of Wagnerian characters or a European version of Gilbert and Sullivan. Well one makes wine and the other makes something to store it in, but the link here is that both of them had me working in Tuscany earlier this year.

Ornellaia wanted pictures to show what a great place their winery and vineyards near Bolgheri were to visit and not long after I was on another flight to Pisa again. This time to photograph Marc Almert, the 2016 Gaggenau Sommelier  award winner enjoying a visit to Tuscany with two renowned sommeliers, his Gaggenau mentors Annemarie Foidl and Serge Dubs, to hone his skills.

Part Uno: Ornellaia

Back again at Ornellaia after ( is it really..? ). 9 years !

An understated entrance.

But complete with modern technology.

Vineyard post typography tells its own story.

So does the sky !

Sorry for the watermarks but they are meant to discourage unauthorised use !

And the barrel…

If you can interpret it.

Careful camera positioning.

We finally corner winemaker Axel Heinz and drag him off to the cellar.

Well that floor won’t show the stains…

Off to Bolgheri for lunch.

Oh yes, bring your wallet.

Decisions, decisions….

Back to work in the tasting room.

Two very amenable guests and a very presentable hostess make a possibly tricky situation quickly shot.

The ideal hostess !

For a memorable tasting.

Meanwhile, down in the workshop…. Actually not much happening.

But they are collecting samples in the barrel room.

Who is this guy !?
Yes its Andy Katz working on his next book !

The Ornellaia Oak at sundown.

But has Andy arrived too late..?

We’ll have to wait and see, good luck with the book Andy.


Part Due : Chase the sommelier.

Well it was a bit like joining a circus;  PR, facilitators, two more photographers, three sommeliers. Everyone with their own job to do for Gaggenau,  would it work out for me..?

Well yes, it seems, it did. The trick, get in first and get ahead.

I arrived ahead of everyone else and asked to go straight to see Giovanni and his vineyards at the Fattorie del Dolfi.

It was a very useful one to one meeting with the taciturn Giovanni aided by Maggie Wang from Gaggenau who knows him well.  A quietly passionate man who knows his land and vines inside out and is no great lover of silly questions I would guess. We spent  a  lovely hour or two exploring two of his vineyards ready for my proposed early morning tour with Giovanni and Marc, the award winning sommelier, the next day.

Fattorie del Dolfi.

Marc sees the benefits of getting up early.

Before the sun gets over the trees, Marc and Giovanni are deep in conversation.

We are rewarded with the hoped for light.

Back at the Fattorie, Serge and Annemarie are preparing some tests for Marc.

Annemarie with her hands full.

Marc goes through his paces.

Serge, Giovanni and Maggie enjoying a lunch al fresco

Then Giovanni gives everyone a cellar tour,

Giovanni gives me 5 minutes for a few pictures.

Giovanni’s home illustrates his sense of humour !

Day two is a tour of the very special Flor perfumery in Florence.

Marc and the team discuss aromas at Flor, before its time to head for the airport.



From Volnay to the Valais

Its a happy coincidence when two short jobs can be dove-tailed together. Its not so bad to get from Dijon to Sion in the Valais and I was looking forward to seeing it for the first time, even if a little concerned to be shooting in the vineyards in early March ! I had a few portraits to make in Burgundy and was lucky enough to line up four people for my one day before I had to take a train ( 3 actually ) to get to Sion by lunchtime.

Guillaume d’Angerville at home in Volnay

Just up the street,Michel Lafarge and son Frederique

Always a good sign when your subject takes 2 glasses to the cellar. One of the “cosiest” I know !

Overlooking Gamay, a Lamy vineyard

Pierre-Yves Colin, happy in his new cellar.

PY has been doing a little tasting too.

As I often do, I took my sandwich to Corton Hill to watch the action.

Finished the tour with Thierry Brouin at Clos Des Lambrays. He politely declined to tell me who the new man at the Domaine would be. Now we know that Louis Latour’s loss is Lambrays gain. That’ll cut Boris’s mileage !

So off to spend a couple of days with Valais Mundi in Sion.

Hardly been in the Valais 10 minutes but I’m amazed by what I see.

Day one was drizzle, steep paths and getting to know locations.

I was informed they were so excited by my visit that it was to be featured in the house magazine of their parent company Provins. They had even called on their local photographer Olivier Maire to accompany us the following afternoon !  Not quite worldwide fame awaited me but it would be a new experience and probably fun. And good for me to experience being the other side of the camera.

That evening was raclette time with a cheese tour of Switzerland with Johanna and Damien the winemakers.

A cheese tour of Switzerland

The first morning was early and wonderful. Stunning scenery and beautiful light do wonders for vineyards in 50 shades of brown.

The appeal of a wine region depends on several things but the Valais vineyards have the wow factor, even in early March!

Which ever way you look.

A wine route stained glass.

Jean-Blaise, the vineyard manager was my chauffeur and location finder.

Jean-Blaise and a sample of his interesting terroir.

Back at the winery, Damien Carruzzo and Nicolas, Valais Mundi’s consultant, are waiting for their photocall.

After lunch and being memorably introduced to Petite Arvine, it was time meet up with Olivier and finish the shoot in the vineyards.

Olivier and his fill-in flash, watched by an amused Damien.

I am very grateful to Olivier for his professionalism, friendly patience and flattering photographs ! I appreciate now how much easier it is to be photographed doing your job than being posed.

I made the front cover !  I had to be interviewed for this too and a tricky question was “my favourite wine region”…..? Well, Valais takes lot of beating and Swiss wine…. well just try it when you have the chance.

Wonderful end to the day, and my Valais visit.




When the call came to visit Château Palmer in the Medoc, I got in touch with the Ducourt family in the Entre-Deux-Mers to see if they had need of my services again. Happily marketing boss Jonathan told me there had been plenty of developments since my last visit and I would be busy, even if February was a quiet month.

As I drove into Margaux I was surprised to see sheep in the vineyards to my left – could this be part of the biodynamic approach at Palmer I wondered.  Of course it was and my afternoon was off to good start. Good to see Thomas Duroux again and be introduced to his cows ! More biodynamics.

In two hours I was on my way to Famille Ducourt with, for February, a surprising range of pictures in the bag.

Then followed two days with Jonathan and his grandmother, parents, uncle and brothers and touring their new facilities. A very strong family that is making great moves forward with their estates. In this years Decanter World Wine Awards their Château Larroque Bordeaux Superior 2015 was awarded 95 points and voted “Best Value Bordeaux Red”.

The February weather was best described as “interesting” but we got a lot done. Jonathan works you hard !

PS its the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards on Tuesday 12 September and  this image from the 2017 Paulée de Meursault is shortlisted.

See all the shortlisted images here http://www.theroedererawards.com/categories/artistry/

Wish me luck !

Thomas Duroux of Château Palmer

Jeremy Ducourt, winemaker of Famille Ducourt.

Measuring up

to get the blend right.

New Cellars at Ducourt