A year on the Hill of Corton

Archive for March, 2014

March

Not an advertisement, or even a tasting memo, this is one of only 120 bottles from a new Grand Cru vineyard. You saw it here first. Production should eventually reach a whole barrel !

Not an advertisement, or even a tasting memo, this is one of only 120 bottles from a new Grand Cru vineyard. You saw it here first. Production should eventually reach a whole barrel !

With spring here Serge's bees will soon be needed.

With spring here Serge’s bees will soon be needed.

March has been a wonderful month. I’ve been lucky with the weather and had beautiful light, especially in the mornings. The second meeting with Glénat went well and it was very good to have a few trial layouts from the editor and see things taking shape. Space and typography are so important when a book is to be primarily a visual experience.
Its been a busy time with the vignerons all out on the Hill as the weather improved. Great to see spring arriving and the promise of a new vintage after last years problems.
Of course I have not seen March on the Hill before and there is so much to enjoy.
Normally my working visits over the years have been geared towards shooting portraits of growers for my library. Four or five visits a day, picking up vineyard shoots at dawn and dusk is the usual pattern. Working on the Hill has taught me something about what to look for: beauty in close up. And to spend time looking for the best examples of what you need.
The rising sap, for example, appears as tears as it drops from the end of each pruned vine, indicating the branches are supple enough, or soon will be, to bend and tie to the wires.
There will be new posts and new wires to be installed, ground to be ploughed, and sometimes the last pruning to be pulled off and burnt or heaped in tidy rows to be ground up.

It has always been my aim to have plenty of portraits of the proprietors as well as the guys in the vines, although the owners are often the ones I meet in the vineyard. Hopefully there will be a large splash of 66+ portraits of all those owners who have supported this book. A chance for you meet at least some of the owners of vines on Corton.

If you’ve had the opportunity to attend the “Grands Jours de Bourgogne”, a biennial promotional week when the region greets the wine trades professionals, some of you will already have met some of them, even if it is often in crowded, busy situations.
I had to be there for the day of “Terroirs de Corton” when the world came to, this year, Aloxe-Corton and discovered Château Corton André and the cuverie of Maison Louis Latour that has been dug into the lower slopes along the road. This place gave me my first great memory of Burgundy when I first came here in 1979, knowing absolutely nothing about wine or Burgundy !

It's a difficult job, but someone has to do it !

It’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it !

Do they realise this place's history I wonder...?

Do they realise this place’s history I wonder…?

Bees round a honey pot at Françoise André

Bees round a honey pot at Françoise André

A tear and a raffia tie in Bressandes

A tear and a raffia tie in Bressandes

Spring has sprung in the Bois de Corton.

Spring has sprung in the Bois de Corton.

The Latour cuverie and its neighbour Château Corton André with its famous tiled roof

The Latour cuverie and its neighbour Château Corton André with its famous tiled roof


Teardrop acting as a magnifying glass

Teardrop acting as a magnifying glass

Warm enough to lure out the lizards

Warm enough to lure out the lizards

Almond blossom in Languettes

Almond blossom in Languettes

An little known view of Corton from the Pernand-Magny-Les-Villers road.

An little known view of Corton from the Pernand-Vergelesses to Magny-Les-Villers road.

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February

Taking a break from planting in Les Pougets

Taking a break from planting in Les Pougets

February saw my first face to face meeting with the team from Editions Glénat who are publishing my Corton book. We met in Pernand with my little steering group of winemakers who have been getting the book off the ground by getting their fellow growers on Corton Hill to buy multiple copies of the book to reach the target of 2000.
They have not commissioned my work, I am independent in how I approach the subject. But what do I know ? I must take advice on what Corton and the villages are all about and then build my own picture from my point of view, not their’s.
We have well over 60 growers subscribed and have managed without assistance from any sponsors, including the BIVB. Of course the negociants are big subscribers but there is no favourable treatment, my aim is to involve as many owners as possible in the project as the small parcel owners can be even prouder of their ownership of the Corton appellations.
I am not producing a guide to the wines of the Hill, more celebrating the place itself, the vignerons who work it and the communities around it.
It seems to be a formula that’s appreciated here otherwise there would not have been the support I am so proud to have received. Photographically, its very much a story told from the grower’s perspective I hope, so there needs to be a lot of consultation.

The meeting went well and everything is on course for a November publication in French but with a number of copies in English.
I knew from the start Corton had a story that could not be told in pictures alone so we have a writer to compliment 170-odd pages of photography through a year on the Hill and in the villages.
While the photography is not quite finished I have had to edit what I have shot so far in order that the editor can get started and the growers offer advice on what I may have missed.

Well that was a long job and a tough one and the reason this post is so late !

I have two visits in March, one to meet up again with the publisher and growers to get their feedback, and the second to see how Corton presents itself during Burgundy’s big biennial promotional week, Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne 17-22 March when its possible for the press and wine professionals to taste all the Burgundian appellations from Chablis to Macon as they move south. In early April I will team up for a couple of days with the writer to help him see the Hill from my point of view.

Apart from the meeting I was able to observe the work on the Hill in sun, wind and rain, as well as meeting the new and former owners of Maison Jacques Copeau in Pernand-Vergelesses. I was able to take a look around inside this shrine, once home to the great French man of the theatre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Copeau .

High winds and periods of rain don't slow down this tâcheron working for Hospices de Beaune on the mound of Les Vergennes

High winds and periods of rain don’t slow down this tâcheron working for Hospices de Beaune on the mound of Les Vergennes

A peaceful morning on the Ladoix side of the Hill as seen from Aloxe-Corton

A peaceful morning on the Ladoix side of the Hill as seen from Aloxe-Corton

Two ladies burning prunings in Le Charlemagne in front of Pernad-Vergelesses.

Two ladies burning prunings in Le Charlemagne in front of Pernand-Vergelesses.

Married couples often share the work as  tâcherons , here in Les Pougets

Married couples often share the work as tâcherons, as here in Les Pougets

A new wall goes up in Les Renardes, they want me to see it finished !

A new wall goes up in Les Renardes, they want me to see it finished !

The church in Bagnot, 15 minutes East of Ladoix-Serrigny has some glorious medieval wall painting. This one is part of a calendar but the devil paintings are the big attraction here !

The church in Bagnot, 15 minutes East of Ladoix-Serrigny has some glorious medieval wall painting. This one is part of a calendar but the devil paintings are the big attraction here !

A gruesome 17c tomb at the church in Ladoix- Serrigny

A gruesome 17c tomb in the church in Ladoix- Serrigny

Jean-Louis Hourdin, another man of the theatre and new owner of Maison Jacques Copeau along with Catherine Dasté, Copeau's grand-daughter

Jean-Louis Hourdin, another man of the theatre and new owner of Maison Jacques Copeau along with Catherine Dasté, Copeau’s grand-daughter


Jacques Copeau's bedroom, kept as it was during his lifetime. The vineyards of Charlemagne can be seen from his window.

Jacques Copeau’s bedroom, kept as it was during his lifetime. The vineyards of Charlemagne can be seen from his window.


Carrying new posts to Les Lolieres

Carrying new posts to Les Lolieres