A year on the Hill of Corton

Author Archive

May – and I am over the Hill !

Approaching Corton Hill by Aloxe-Corton around 07.15

Approaching Corton Hill by Aloxe-Corton around 07.15

Looking towards Pernand-Vergelesses from above Les Pougets

Looking towards Pernand-Vergelesses from above Les Pougets

After an anti-clockwise route we arrive at Pernand

After an anti-clockwise route we arrive at Pernand

Looking down over Les Bressandes and Les Renardes after a circuit of the Hill

Looking down over Les Bressandes and Les Renardes after a circuit of the Hill

A view of Buisson in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny

A view of Buisson in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny

The quarry at the northern end of the Hill has bitten into Les Grechons !

The quarry at the northern end of the Hill has bitten into Les Grechons !


Although I started this blog last September, by then I had been photographing for this book for five months. Finalising a deal with a publisher was close but still three months away.
I had been certain everything would work so I began work last April in order to meet a proposed publication date of November 2014. It was only with a request from World of Fine Wine magazine for a four-part series of articles that I had to take the plunge of beginning the blog too. From then on, failure to complete with a publisher would have left me rather embarrassed and with not much to write about!
Still, all is well, Glénat will publish in five months time but it is all coming together at the last minute.
My deadline was extended until the end of June in order to make a few additions and we are now in the process of agreeing picture selection. It is a time for seeing other people’s point of view, listening to wiser heads, but above all sticking to your own vision.
However,its amazing to me that what seems like the best possible selection and layout on Friday evening looks so wrong on Monday.The removal or addition of one picture affects everything. The “marriage” of two pictures on a double page spread does not always need an obvious visual link but can create a statement of its own.
Deadlines are deadlines and decisions must be made, but the extension has allowed me to profit from the offer of a helicopter ride around the Hill and also catch up with very busy winemakers I need portraits of.
Shooting from a helicopter with no door between you and eternity is great when you have the light you want in the right direction and if its not too windy. Well I had to settle for two out of three but hope one or more of the end results will be make it into the book.
With me in the passenger seat on the left means an anti-clockwise circuit of the Hill. In the wind it was too difficult to hover and the views rushed past the camera.
It was all over too soon, just when I was getting used to it!
Thank you to my friendly vigneron in need of flying hours!
Judging when to fly is difficult, in a few weeks time the vines will be rampant, in need of secateurs and the lines of vines not so distinct, but there will be more growth and colour. In spring at least you have a good view of the soil and different parcels.I am not enamoured of the vines in the summer, they look rather dark. Autumn could be fabulous – I must start saving for that now…

Back on “terra firma” the Hill has enjoyed such a warm dry spell that growers have, unlike last spring, been looking forward to some rain and praying the frost would stay away. Fingers are crossed for a dry and sunny period for flowering some time soon.
Meanwhile I continue to work for magazine clients whose work has helped finance my commitment to the book.
After June, lets see what there is to report on the book’s progress, but I am cannot breech the confidentiality of a clients’s assignments by reporting on my work for them. Readers of wine magazines can just keep an eye on the photo credits to see what I have been doing.
Here are a few photos from May.

A comparison of  with and without herbicide...

A comparison of with and without herbicide from elsewhere on the Côte de Beaune…


While I stand in the same place for an hour and a half watching the Hill, the view to my left towards Savigny-Les-Beaune looks dramatic

While I stand in the same place for an hour and a half watching the Hill, the view to my left towards Savigny-Les-Beaune looks dramatic


Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year 2014

cassecroute: second in People category

cassecroute: second in People category

Well when someone is kind enough to give you an award, 50+ bottles of wine and cash, it would be very rude not to share the news!
The Pink Lady (it’s an apple) Food Photography Awards http://www.pinkladyfoodphotographeroftheyear.com/2014/
are an all-embracing recognition of food photography by literally anyone, anywhere old enough to hold a camera.
That is its delight. To see an 11-14 year old glowing in anticipation, but simply very happy to have a photo hung in an exhibition is marvellous. It not only takes all us old timers who have been doing for years, back to our first steps in photography, but shows what an eye for a picture and a passion for a subject can produce from not only professionals but amateurs too, and of any age.
Fortunately for me the Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year does not include the younger generations. Divided into 3 categories, produce, place and people with the accolade going to an overall winner.
I arrived to find I had two portraits and a landscape out of three finalists in each group.The Mall Gallery walls were a riot of colour with food images from around the world, but more importantly an atmosphere of celebration rather than competition that meant it easy to talk to other finalists, meet new friends, old friends and heroes I never expected to have the chance to talk to – Tessa Treager for one. http://www.tessatraeger.com Gorgeous work from a lovely lady.
It was thoroughly good evening with great memories.
Wine photography is not celebrated or as crowded and well paid as food photography. One look in your local bookshop or on a book website will tell you why.
While food books or travel books can be a substitute for the real thing they are often at best something to whet the appetite.
Wine photography is there to give life to what you have in your glass by reminding you of wines origins and creators.
So well done Errazuriz for shining a light on it.


April

My April visit was a chance to meet the editor from Glénat the publisher, and François Perroy who will be writing the accompanying text. Things are starting to move quickly now in terms of production: picture selection, design and layout and most especially the choice of a title. Even a three hour dinner with a group of winemakers did not quite finish that job! We did have a very pleasant tour of the Hill with Claude Chapuis, author of an earlier book on Corton, as company and source of a lot of information for François.
It was the start of a sunny and dry week and continued March’s lack of rain – 15mm I was told

empty rain gauge behind Latour's cuverie

empty rain gauge behind Latour’s cuverie

Marking the the walkers route through the Grands Crus of Corton Hill

Marking the the walkers route through the Grands Crus of Corton Hill


The second day, after I’d made my usual pre-dawn start, was a morning visiting winemakers and tasting. Perhaps I should have done this at the end of every day !
PierreCornu reveals the secrets of Ladoix to François Perroy

PierreCornu reveals the secrets of Ladoix to François Perroy

Follin-Arbelet warming his glass

Follin-Arbelet warming his glass

<img Still sitting on a wall in Charlemagne after six months; a vendangeur's model cabotte.
A vendangeur’s model of a cabotte still sits on a wall in Charlemagne six months later
In Languettes the real thing catches the first light of the day

In Languettes the real thing catches the first light of the day


As the new buds arrive, so do the hungry caterpillars

As the new buds arrive, so do the hungry caterpillars


Returning to Pernand from Magny-Les-Villers on a spring evening

Returning to Pernand from Magny-Les-Villers on a spring evening


An early start at Aloxe-Corton

An early start at Aloxe-Corton


No body around yet in Ladoix Hautes Mourottes

No body around yet in Ladoix Hautes Mourottes


But Jean-Louis is ready to go below the the Louis Latour cuverie built in 1834

But Jean-Louis is ready to go, below the the Louis Latour cuverie built in 1834


In Pernand-Vergelesses they are bottling at Bonneau du Martray

In Pernand-Vergelesses they are bottling at Bonneau du Martray


A careful count is kept of a precious crop

A careful count is kept of a precious crop


Saturday brings an excuse to join the tourists (and several winemakers) at Beaune market before a celebration lunch with friends Gareth and his wife Bérangère. A long lunch is followed by a trip out the pottery at Evelle near Nolay.
Asparagus is in season but, apparently eaten without wine..

Asparagus is in season but, apparently eaten without wine..


Charcuterie, well that's a different matter.

Charcuterie, well that’s a different matter.


Down in Evelle, Philippe is hard at work keeping up with demand.
Concentration

Concentration


One more for the kiln.

One more for the kiln.


Difficult not to find something you like !

Difficult not to find something you like and this is not even the shop!


Sunday should have been palm Sunday in Savigny-Les-Beaune but I was invited to “Le Parcours des Trétaux” at Pernand-Vergelesses which happens only every two years so no decision necessary !
Three hundred visitors are divided in to three teams ( Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and ALigoté ) at the first winery venue where we are all presented with an Aligoté aperitif and gougeres along with our first of several theatrical entertainments before our “team” was led off by our guide Sebastien and his drum. While there is no rush each teams arrival at their next entertainment and food course ( accompanied by several wines of course ) is carefully timed as we crisscross the village from one domaine to another.
Hats off to Matthieu the master of ceremonies who is the star of the whole day, as “Belinda” (if I heard correctly) a cross between Liza Minelli and Darth Vader.
Put it in your diary for April 2016, it’s not to be missed!

A warm welcome at Le Parcours des Trétaux in Pernand

A warm welcome at Le Parcours des Trétaux in Pernand


The star - a cross between Liza Minelli and Darth Vader !

The star – a cross between Liza Minelli and Darth Vader !


The Ladies chorus

The Ladies chorus


Sebastien leads the way to the first course

Sebastien leads the way to the first course


Fair warning !

Fair warning !


Fictional Pernand vigneron seeks bride. Hilarious !

Fictional Pernand vigneron seeks bride. Hilarious !


Entertainment en route to dessert

Entertainment en route to dessert


Superb service !

Superb service !


In the end everyone goes home happy.

In the end everyone goes home happy.


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.


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


Emmanuel Giboulet 2

It seems that nearly 500,000 people signed that petition – that is a very high number of experts. Some people probably did so without full understanding of the facts – as I did. I put the link on the blog because it is a very serious situation that we should be thinking about. It is, I hope something that can be discussed and I already have one comment on the subject. I would appreciate anyone with knowledge taking the time to offer a point of view here.
I have heard no news of any judgement as yet, but any ruling will not be the end of the matter. The problem must still be solved in the best way possible. I do not believe sending Monsieur Giboulet to jail or not will not provide the solution to a complex problem. Sharing knowledge might. As Bill Nanson put it, what price Unesco recognition if there are no vines….


Emmanuel Giboulot

I’m sure this is worthy of your attention: http://ipsn.eu/petition_ld/remerciement_viticulteur/

I do wish I’d met him earlier, or at least drunk his wine, but I’ll make sure I do both as soon as I.


The Longest Day starts early in St Aubin

The host village prepares a special cuvée for the visitors

The host village prepares a special cuvée for the visitors


The porter teams from each village receive fortifying hospitality from the host village before their procession starts

The porter teams from each village receive fortifying hospitality from the host village before their procession starts


Its a frosty start usually. 2014 is no exception but its much better than rain!

Its a frosty start usually. 2014 is no exception but its much better than rain!


Ready for the start

Ready for the start


Cassecroute and a glass of something around 6.30 a.m. is followed by the call for the porters and statues to take their usual position in the line-up in the street to begin a non-stop trail through the vineyards before being engulfed by the scrum of tourists waiting in the village. The event plays more to press photographers’ strengths than mine so a little preparation helps the decision making process. Having to follow a particular group, the groups from Aloxe, Pernand and Ladoix-Serrigny means I am on the move all the time but great light and location can be spoiled by the unexpected arrival of unwanted additions to the scenario such as first aiders in hi-viz gear or just enthusiastic fellow photographers leaping in. All you can do is accept it and keep shooting.
arriving@StAubin_CRW5791

By the time we climb out of the village of Gamay the sky is lightening to reveal thin strips of pink edged cloud and we find ourselves among the frosted vines of St Aubin with occasional small christmas trees bedecked with white flowers dotted along the way.

Approaching St Aubin through "Sur Le Sentier Du Clou as the sun rises

Approaching St Aubin through “Sur Le Sentier Du Clou as the sun rises


The processional bands sound a long way back, coming it seems, from another, more rumbustious world than the remoteness and peace of the vineyard slopes.

Soon we arrive at St Aubin itself and it’s impossible to keep up with the statues among the crowds but the previous day’s visit has reminded me of the available shortcuts and I gain time to talk to the Gendarmes controlling traffic on the N 6. I am searching for an opportunity to represent this very French part of local life in the story of Corton and they are happy to cooperate.

Gendarmes protect St Vincent from the N 6

Gendarmes protect St Vincent from the N 6


Next stop its the war memorial and a stirring rendition of the Marseillaise.
The Chevaliers du Tastevin led here by Louis-Michel Liger-Belair are always a happy bunch

The Chevaliers du Tastevin led here by Louis-Michel Liger-Belair are always a happy bunch


Vincent Rapet, Pierre Cornu and Jean-René Nudant along with Jean-Marc Cachat

Vincent Rapet, Pierre Cornu and Jean-René Nudant along with Jean-Marc Cachat

Then its uphill to the church where the statues are tightly packed together in Dominique Derain’s courtyard while the porters are at Mass. By now St Aubin is filling up and the crowds around the church and `Dominique’s courtyard are waiting for the Mass to finish and the procession to descend back past the Monument Aux Morts and on to the old château in Gamay. There retired vignerons fom the village will be intronised into the Chevaliers du Tastevin.

Statues fill Dominique Derain's courtyard during the Mass

Statues fill Dominique Derain’s courtyard during the Mass


The crowd however is causing a “bouchon” or traffic jam as porters struggle to get in to the courtyard and manoeuvre out with their statues. Slow going means my villages are standing around chatting rather than processing but the bands are great entertainment, especially that from Meursault.
Rock and Roll Burgundian style fom Harmoie de Meursault

Rock and Roll Burgundian style from Harmonie de Meursault


They catch them young in Meursault

They catch them young in Meursault


At the memorial I call it a day, lunch is calling and that means queueing…
Oysters seemed to go down well with St Aubin's whites.

Oysters seemed to go down well with St Aubin’s whites.


There will be over 20,000 here today, time to get ahead of the game and head for the food stands back up round the church of St Aubin (of course) in front of the tide coming up from the buses arriving from Chagny station that disembark at Gamay. After frites, sausage and a gauffre (waffle) I retrace my steps around the village and encounter winemakers smiling in the sun among the incoming crowds, each visitor carrying their 15 euro package of tasting glass and 7 tickets to various wine outlets dotted around the village. A very good day will go on for a long time yet and later these locals will be dressed in their best to enjoy another banquet tonight.
I have a ticket…. as chauffeur to my photographer friend Thierry, so its another late night before Sunday’s train home.
It was a good night, I was sat between the Best Sommelier in France 1994 and an English importer so I tried to keep my opinions to myself ! Here are some images…
A fanfare greets each new wine

A fanfare greets each new wine


which is served with great care

which is served with great care


along with several courses, but I sadly lost my copy of the impressive menu so I can't tell you what this was !

along with several courses, but I sadly lost my copy of the impressive menu so I can’t tell you what this was !


The usual Burgundian drinking songs were led by Le Vieux Cep de Corton with typical gusto and humour

The usual Burgundian drinking songs were led by Le Vieux Cep de Corton with typical gusto and humour


In between banquets.

If anyone knows a reliable weather website, do let me know !
Amongst all the appointments and eating, I planned to have time on the Hill on Thursday and Friday to shoot the landscape and work, hoping the light might be interesting…
Thursday gave a little fog early but the rest of the day was unexciting and so I took an early lunch and explored Serrigny and caught up with some editing before things got briefly promising around 4 pm.

Remi Rollin seems happy enough in Charlemagne

Remi Rollin seems happy enough in Charlemagne

Electric secateurs rule in Charlemagne

Electric secateurs rule in Charlemagne

The local grouse seem quite tame

The local grouse seem quite tame

Sorry I missed this ! Fancy dress makes good pictures.

Sorry I missed this ! Fancy dress makes good pictures.

Château  de Serrigny, home of the Merode family.

Château de Serrigny, home of the Merode family.

Altogether it was the quiet day I needed after Wednesday and before Saturday. Friday was gorgeous for a while on the Ladoix side, then I had an appointment to talk pictures at Le Charlemagne restaurant in Pernand before lunch.

burning the prunings in Corton

burning the prunings in Corton


I decided to recce St Aubin that afternoon before Saturday’s procession, to see how the decorations were progressing and say “bon courage!” to anyone I knew. It may seem last minute but all the traditional paper flowers are put on the eve of the big day to avoid rain damage.
I found Olivier Lamy’s father, now retired, hanging his photographs of the vineyards and local cabottes outside his house. Hubert was, as always, a genial bear of a man with a permanent twinkle in his eyes and huge vigneron’s hands. Gerard Prudhon, the mayor, was everywhere, calmly checking this and that. Its St Aubin’s first ever hosting of the St Vincent but all was well and getting more attractive by the minute as more and more paper flowers went up. These flowers are a communal production as everyone, young and old, spends an evening once a week at the town hall throughout the preceding year creating what must be hundreds of thousands of them. The pride is visible if not tangible. Its great to see St Aubin looking so good, we just hope the rain stays away.
Its not all about wine

Its not all about wine

But you can't forget snails at Domaine Prudhon

But you can’t forget snails at Domaine Prudhon

Butterfies, that's a new one on me...

Butterfies, that’s a new one on me…


Its all too much excitement for one resident of St Aubin

Its all too much excitement for one resident of St Aubin

Running out of flowers - not yet !

Running out of flowers – not yet !

1611 and still standing in St Aubin

1611 and still standing in St Aubin


Friday evening was spent having supper with a friend, Marie-Luce Château, who tends the small parcel of vines she inherited in Perrieres and Charlemagne, selling the crop to a negociant.
It was a long awaited evening as the other guests were Tom Kevill-Davies and his girlfriend. Tom is renovating an old watermill near Auxey-Duresses to create the “Hungry Cyclists'” Lodge” as a base for cyclists interested in Burgundy’s gastronic delights. Having read the first chapter of his book The Hungry Cyclist, which recounts his cycle ride across the US and South to Rio in search of great food, I know he will succeed. I can recommend the book even to non-cyclists and non-foodies, it’s a really funny read and he will make a great host. http://thehungrycyclist.com/lodge/


St Vincent’s Day is a long day

It turns out that January to March is a quiet time in the tonnellerie world so my visit to Cadus in Ladoix-Serrigny had to be on a Wednesday, St Vincent’s day and they start toasting at 7 a.m.
This session was followed by a change of clothes and a dash to cassecroute at Domaine Marey around 9.00 with those of Pernand going to the Mass at Echevronne at 10.30 where their statue of St Vincent, along with those of Aloxe, Pernand and Ladoix are blessed. Aperatifs at 12.30 at Domaine Rollin, the new guardians of the Pernand statue. Banquet then at the Salle des Fêtes in Aloxe around 1.30 until 7.00 ( yes really ), finishing off with a Soirée Dansant at Domaine Maratray-Dubreuil, new guardians of the statue in Ladoix, laid on in their cuverie beginning at 8.15.
The earliest departure there was 1 a.m.

Bending the staves at Tonnellerie Cadus

Bending the staves at Tonnellerie Cadus

Barrelmaking is a fascinating process dependent on individual skill and experience. Here is not the place for dissertation on he subject but the choice of barrelmaker, wood and toasting level
is another unheralded skill the winemaker must have. If you ever in wine country there is probably a cooperage not far away, in deed some establishments make or maintain their own barrels and its well worth a visit if you can a winemaker to request one for you. Just be ready for the noise ! Its all very elemental, lots of water, fire and steam and hammering.
Eric Marey entertains at Pernand

Eric Marey entertains at Pernand

Of course I arrived in Pernand a little late due to the repositioning of large holes in the road in Aloxe. I knew where to go but there was no sign of activity until you stop and listen outside the right door ! The people you know are friendly but those who don’t know you are a little curious at the arrival of a professional camera at proceedings and its difficult to achieve an air of normality. But Domaine Marey’s wine and chevreuil pâté are a treat and its so warm with so many bodies crammed in that the camera lens has steamed up anyway!
Its a brief stay as I must get to the church of St Andoche in Echevronne before the crowds in order to see Father Jean-Paul who has a seat set aside for me.

Jean-Claude from Aloxe prepares St Vincent at the church in Echevronne

Jean-Claude from Aloxe prepares St Vincent at the church in Echevronne


In front of the altar is the Christmas crib still and in front of that is a Burgundy basket that is being filled with bottles from the winemakers as they arrive. Something to sustain the priest through the year ahead!
Father Jean-Paul welcomes the winemakers.

Father Jean-Paul welcomes the winemakers.


The church fills as the statues are brought in and I am surrounded by winemakers squeezed into this little 12c church to celebrate the biggest day in their calendar. Not a tourist, client or importer in sight and I’m trying to make myself as small as possible ! But I don’t need to worry, they know why I am there and are happy to see me.
After mass everyone crowds into the street to greet those from the other villages so there is not much room to work and the competition from everyone with a phone camera or a point-and-shoot is intense. But its their day, not mine.
A similar crowd awaits at Domaine Rollin who will host the statue next and are providing the aperatif before the village banquet.
Simon Rollin leads the procession back to the family's cuverie for the aperatif.

Simon Rollin leads the procession back to the family’s cuverie for the aperatif.


The next destination is the banquet at Aloxe where I am greeted enthusiastically by Mayor Maurice Chapuis and another winemaker Bruno Colin (no relation to the Colins in Chassagne and Gamay )
Bruno Colin shows his qualifications at the Aloxe banquet

Bruno Colin shows his qualifications at the Aloxe banquet

Soon the plates and wines are arriving but everything proceeds at a gentle pace and the time flies past with songs that might just be occasionally bawdy followed by stand up comedy by the Mayor’s wife . How I wish my French was better !

It seems we have to have a break between meat courses and take a digestif of sorbet and pear eau de vie. The "trou Bourguignon" seems to work !

It seems we have to have a break between meat courses and take a digestif of sorbet and pear eau de vie. The “trou Bourguignon” seems to work !


Its been a privilege to be there. Burgundy never ceases to provide new experiences.
Time for a lie down before seeing what is going on at Domaine Maratray-Dureuil, new guardians of Ladoix’s statue
Its a younger and boisterous crowd here but then they have already done a few hours celebrating and look as if they are ready to start all over again!
Ladoix's next generation serenade the diners

Ladoix’s next generation serenade the diners


Trouble is I could not force down another mouthful and I settle for Evian after the Ladoix blanc that greets me.
Without eating and drinking its difficult to join in so I shoot what I want and leave everyone to let their hair down in privacy. Its been a long day…


No fire without smoke

Tuesday was, at least, dry. No rain or fog but before dawn Bouchard’s Corton worker was making smoke below their red tiled…, well its hardly a cabotte, more a small house and major landmark on the hill from Aloxe and Ladoix. Anyway its always a choice to be made in the morning; to do a quicker circular tour of Les Bressandes on a good surface (now with small kerb stones to stop you driving into the large open concrete drain) or head through Aloxe-Corton and up betwen Perrieres and Pougets before swinging right to Corton or straight on to Charlemagne on tarmac that gives way to an increasingly rutted mix of soil and chunks of limestone. Not to good place to think about a three point turn !
Normally before dawn I head for Corton, its a very special place for a sunrise. I have yet to encounter any wild boar but I live in hope !
Today there is no panoramic dawn to photograph, just the smoke from a brouette with the occasional burst of flame.

What I’m really looking forward to are the visits later on to the men who have been guardians of their village’s St Vincent Statue in Aloxe and Ladoix. Monsieur Chevalier in Aloxe has just 10 rows of Aloxe village behind his house and we had a pleasant chat and a glass of his 2010.
I wonder how many other small part time vignerons there are producing good wine at good prices… On to the home of François Saguero and another guardian who may not sound a Burgundian but his hands tell me he is !

The trick is to know where the wind is coming from...

The trick is to know where the wind is coming from…

No fire without smoke

No fire without smoke


Jean-Claude Chevalier prepares Aloxe-Corton's statue of St Vincent for his big day

Jean-Claude Chevalier prepares Aloxe-Corton’s statue of St Vincent for his big day


Strong hands protect Ladoix-Serrigny's statue

Strong hands protect Ladoix-Serrigny’s statue


A visit to Coche-Dury

Jean-François checking the malolactic fermentation of his 2013 Charlemagne

Jean-François checking the malolactic fermentation of his 2013 Charlemagne

I was elsewhere when Domaine Coche-Dury harvested their Charlemagne so I arranged to photograph the progress of it’s malolactic fermentation. Jean-François did the job while Rafael his son was busy with visitors. He was in good form and preparing to leave for Japan. We were warmly welcomed and it made a great start to a busy and varied week. More of that over the next few days…


Unesco news

PressRelease_climats2014
Time for a glass of Cremant !


The “Climats” of Burgundy

My review copy arrived this afternoon and I must straight away declare an interest in that it is by Glénat, the same publisher who will bring out my book on Corton Hill next year.
I won’t say much here as I must review it for the March issue of World of Fine Wine. I agreed to do it not realising it was so much more than a book of photographs. I may feel able to comment on the pictures but it could need more knowledgeable heads than mine to find fault with the rest of the contents.
I’ll limit myself here to saying that it is available in English and every Burgundy lover will want it, enjoy it and learn from it. Now I must set about earning my fee !


Small world

I was not planning a post for another two weeks until my trip to cover the two St Vincent celebrations. The tourist version when, over one weekend, thousands will descend on St Aubin, that underrated village hidden in the side valley that lies between Puligny and Chassagne but now home to a growing reputation. The other, the real one on St Vincent’s actual feast day, 22nd January, when the vignerons take their village’s saint’s statue to Mass and then enjoy a rather extended lunch. All without the desire for an audience.

However a blog does enjoy having an audience. But all I know about mine is their country of residence.
Still, that can be interesting enough; up until this week I had been viewed in 26 countries but was amazed today to add Afghanistan !
That’s the popularity of Burgundy. I’ll tell them at the St Vincent lunch just how far their reputation goes. I hope you come back again Afghanistan.


Happy New Year/ Bonne Année !

You make think I’m a little late with my greetings but I understand that in France there is still plenty of time to send cards and emails !

Truth is I have been waiting to announce news of a contract for my book from the publisher Glenat and an email arrived this afternoon with the good news.
So the book will be published in October 2014 consisting of approximately 220-240 pages, 70% of it will be my photographs with the text coming from local experts on History, Geology, etc. to make up the rest. All for around 50 euros.
Initially its published in France but I hope an English version will follow.

Because we are a group of relative unknowns no doubt the publishers will follow the time-honoured pattern of getting big names to write introductions and forewards.

So if any of you can suggest suitable names, do please let me know.

Aubert de Villaine already has two such appearances to his name in recent years so I imagine we’ll have to manage without him. That is a great shame since he has been a source of great support and encouragement, along with many of the estates working vineyards on the Hill of Corton.

Anyway it brings an end to over two years of hoping and wondering, discussions and uncertainty, so I’m off to have a small celebration.

Happy New Year indeed everyone!


Winter sun and hard work

Mont Blanc - again.

Mont Blanc – again.

Ch. Corton André from Les Perrieres

Ch. Corton André from Les Perrieres

Frosted brouettes in Les Perrieres at Aloxe-Corton

Frosted brouettes in Les Perrieres at Aloxe-Corton

Burning prunings in the Hopsices de Beaune Bressandes

Burning prunings in the Hospices de Beaune Bressandes

Ladoix from Corton Hill

Ladoix from Corton Hill

planting new vins in Charlemagne

planting new vins in Charlemagne

Charlemagne's army

Charlemagne’s army


Pulling downhill is better than pushing up !

Pulling downhill is better than pushing up !

Monday morning begins with clear skies and that view of Mt Blanc again. While the extreme, windblown frost of Friday is gone the brouettes in Perrieres have a silvery edge. Cold, but not too cold for some pruning and I’m soon passed by the Bouchard tâcheron who works in Corton.
From Les Renardes the view over Ladoix is all mist and smoking chimneys, the blue haze contrasting with the warm early sunlight bouncing off the wires in Bressandes.
Again its a race to use this light before the frost is gone. I briefly disturb the friendly tâcheron from Les Hospices in Bressandes who, like the guy earlier in Corton remembers me from my June visit. Its reassuring that I am not one of several snappers on the Hill.
Sadly there is no coffee break at the épicerie in Ladoix, Monday is their day off. So its time to head round the corner to Charlemagne in search of some activity and perhaps a little cassecroute…
Bingo! i spot workers from Bonneau du Martray preparing to plant new vines as they dig away, bodies and breath steaming against the light. Below a couple from François André and their retreiver are feeding their brouette. Its very cold and tough work but everyone is happy to have the sun back again after a week of fog. Plenty to shoot and I just have time for a little baguette and saucisson before its time to move on.


A walk in the Bois de Corton

Sunday begins with coffee at the epicerie in Ladoix where I am to meet Sylvain Renaud, Vincent Sauvestre’s man in charge of his woods on Corton Hill.
The frost has gone but the fog remains as we trek into the woods, Sylvain’s saw over his shoulder, looking for things to cut up and any sign of life from the creatures inhabiting the wood.
What is already a beautiful space had taken on an a vaguely mysterious atmosphere in the fog and lacked only a sighting of the silhouette of a chevreuil to give it a mythical air.
No such luck, but I am invited to Sunday lunch with M.+ Mme. Renaud beside a very welcoming and efficient wood burning stove. Another walk after lunch yielded no sightings, even with Sylvain creeping around like a real backwoodsman. Then off back to the Rognets vineyards in search of anything before a shower and dinner chez Gaudillère. The fog is due to clear on Monday so a little sun would be useful.

Sylvain Renaud, ready for action

Sylvain Renaud, ready for action

Next stop, someone's chimney.

Next stop, someone’s chimney.

The affectionate Monsieur Renaud and his wife.

The affectionate Monsieur Renaud and his wife.

Renaud père + fils looking for tracks.

Renaud père + fils looking for tracks.


Gone hunting.

Photographing anything you have not experienced before, that is potentially dangerous, where no one speaks your mother tongue, may not be successful the first time…
You control nothing and don’t know what will happen next. A steep learning curve and, on a damp winter day when leaves cover loose stones and the moss is wet, its a slippery one. I spent the morning following as close as I could to one of the trackers whose job it was to drive boar or deer towards the waiting guns. Alternately struggling through undergrowth while trying to keep your feet and standing stock still while the tracker looks and listens for movement, you lose any idea of time, distance and direction. The sound of dogs barking, the bells on their collars tinkling to identify them, horns signaling a sighting of trail or beast and the staccato gutteral calls between trackers, even an occasional shot, all muffled by the trees give the situation a dreamlike, other worldly, quality.

I am not on the hill of Corton but in the Hautes Côtes with a group including a vigneron from Ladoix. Here we are above the fog and I even seen the sun for a few seconds. Its a long morning first waiting for the late arrivals delayed by motorway accidents and icy roads and then trekking unknowingly behind a guy with a rifle, a brass horn and bright orange jacket that in theory stops him becoming a target. I’m very glad of my high viz waistcoat that French law demands I carry in my car for roadside emergencies.
Not before time we are back at the hunters cabin where a four course meal has been prepared; quiche (who said real men don’t eat quiche ? French hunters take seconds!) followed by beef casserole, cheese and creme caramel, all accompanied by a glass or two.
In the afternoon I am left on the side of a coomb at an observation post and told the game will be coming from my right. An hour later a fully grown chevreuil crashes through the bushes on my left and passes not 20 metres across in front of me into the open. Naturally I am holding the wrong lens! But I have a wonderful view of speed and grace for a couple of seconds. A privilege.
Later, more activity to my left and another chevreuil dashes through the trees. I was sure I had a shot with part of him in the frame. Later inspection showed nothing, other than how hard it must be to shoot one those creatures.

Something to keep out the cold

Something to keep out the cold

A moment to stop, listen, and let the photographer catch up !

A moment to stop, listen, and let the photographer catch up !

Lunch and friendship, both very important.

Lunch and friendship, both very important.

A welcome sight, the prospect of warmth and refreshment at the end of the day.

A welcome sight, the prospect of warmth and refreshment at the end of the day.

A bottle of wine ( or two ) for sharing, along with stories.

A bottle of wine ( or two )
are for sharing, along with stories.

Not a bad first experience and just maybe I have photographs of what French hunting is all about. And no animals were hurt producing the pictures !


Winter has arrived

Clos des Vergennes, too cold for pruning.

Clos des Vergennes, too cold for pruning.

My December visit coincides with a day’s hunting, a popular activity with local winemakers.
Fortunately I arrive in time to catch the last of the fog and frost that has lasted all week.
There is no pruning, its too cold, but someone is spreading a little something behind his tractor in Bressandes, presumably fertilizer, David Croix’s team are preparing the ground to plant new vine in Corton Grèves.

Flashing lights in Bressandes

Flashing lights in Bressandes

Preparing ground in Corton Grèves for new vines

Preparing ground in Corton Gréves for new vines


Les Languettes in white

Les Languettes in white


La Paulée de Meursault

What has this do with Corton Hill you might ask…?
That’s the thing about Burgundy, you never know who or what you’ll discover next !Dan@Paulee_CRW0600-9
Its a real “bring your own” party, so much so that everyone gets their own tasting card to note everything they tasted, not always Burgundy either.Bottles@Paulee_CRW0741-5
Plenty to eat, 6 courses + coffeeFoisGras@Paulee_CRW0518-15
And entertainment provided.A Joyeu Bourguignon@Paulee_CRW0564-1

There must be speeches of course….BoredBonBourguignon_CRW0585-4
Its just a bit of a tight fit.servingCheese at Paulee_CRW0842-51
But there will be surprises.iphone@Paulee_CRW0542-49
And perhaps unique opportunities…

Will there be a Paulée in Macau next ?

Will there be a Paulée in Macau next ?


You never know who will come past.Pouring@Paulee_CRW0595-43
Who you will be sat next to…
Someone famous ?

Someone famous ?


The food keeps coming.chicken@Paulee_CRW0606-3
New friends are made.Paulee_CRW0776-40
Its all a lot of fun!waving@PauleeBlog_CRW0920-53
Here’s to next year!PauleeGlass_CRW0478-31


A busy Hospices weekend part 2

Pernand-Vergelesses in the Sunday morning fog

Pernand-Vergelesses in the Sunday morning fog

Mounir Saouma, Trappist monk turned winemaker, gets his ration of Corton Charlemagne at the Hospices new cellars near the modern hospital in Beaune

Mounir Saouma, Trappist monk turned winemaker, gets his ration of Corton Charlemagne at the Hospices new cellars near the modern hospital in Beaune

Photographers keeping out the way and waiting for the big moment

Photographers keeping out the way and waiting for the big moment

Hugh Johnson is happy all that book signing is over for today

Hugh Johnson is happy all that book signing is over for the day

Frédéric Drouhin gets his lot

Frédéric Drouhin gets his lot

With a 20% increase in the price of  white wines and 28% for the reds the auctioneer can smile.

With a 20% increase in the price of white wines and 28% for the reds the auctioneer can smile.

An exciting game of handball at Pernand-Vergelesses, but "we" still lose 21-24

An exciting game of handball at Pernand-Vergelesses, but “we” still lose 21-24

Keeping score while trying to keep warm

Keeping score while trying to keep warm


After a photogenically sunny morning on Saturday on the Hill which I regretted leaving, Sunday had a quite different atmosphere in the fog, much more mystery and intimacy until it began to lift.
I had wanted to avoid the crush at the new Hospices’ cellars so was there, shortly after opening, at 8.45. Its always useful to find old friends on hand to model without asking awkward questions, but it was a great surprise to run into Isabel Ferrando of Domaine St Prefert with her friends from Châteauneuf du Pape. Not too much time for chatting as I had to be in Pernand for a handball match starting at 10.30 – all part of the winemakers life !
After Sunday lunch chez Thierry and Christine it was back into Beaune centre in search of a parking space. Thierry’s advice only involved one slightly risky manoeuvre but proved the importance of local knowledge in parking matters.
I had been looking forward to getting into the hall early before it started to fill in order to catch up with the negociants who were supporting the book with their subscriptions and to encourage those that needed it !
However the Christies’ rule was that no journalists were allowed onto the floor of the hall before the start, no interviews or private chats then…. When we were allowed in there was a scrum to be among the first 10 let in. The rest had to wait until someone had had enough and came out. Anyway its a long afternoon and patience and politeness wins in the end.
Sadly, although prices were up due to another reduced harvest, the “President’s barrel”, Meursault Genevrieres this year (“only” a premier cru) made only half last year’s amount despite the charities guest auctioneer’s efforts to encourage the Chinese bidders at Maison Latour’s expense. Despite the scrum for entry it always surprises me how much the photographers co-operate and give way to each other, but then its France and they are all in the same union I suppose…
Gave up at around 5 p.m. to meet the publisher who is interested in my little book. It went well but I still await the paperwork. More news there as soon as I have it. Its been a long wait…


A busy Hospices weekend part 1

Tasting in the cellars at Château Corton André

Tasting in the cellars at Château Corton André

Roland Masse in front of the world's wine press, well those interested in Burgundy anyway.

Roland Masse in front of the world’s wine press, well those interested in Burgundy anyway.

My target for this trip was to shoot the Vente des Vins weekend in Beaune in relation to the Hospices vineyards on the Hill plus a handball match at the Pernand-Vergelesses sports club.
The Saturday started with the barrel tasting at the old Hospices Cellars in rue Louis Véry and a struggle through the throng patiently waiting their chance to taste. I was hoping to find a barrel of one of the Hospices’ Corton Hill sites and managed to find Cuvée Dr Peste from Corton before having to leave to reach the Palais de Congrés for an appointment at 10.00 with a client. The wine fair there is, for a few euros entrance including your glass, a great way to explore the wines of Burgundy from Auxerre to Macon and meet some of the winemakers doing the, very careful, pouring. After my time restricted lunch I rushed off to a cellar tasting at Château Corton André, the iconic image of Burgundy with its colourful tiled roof, in Aloxe Corton.
Then its back to the Hospices and the press tasting where I had the chance to meet old Hospices acquaintances and photograph the winemaker, Roland Masse. Have n’t tasted a thing all day apart from lunch. Time for a shower before leaving for a tasting and dinner in the Château de Savigny hosted by Château Corton André. My chauffeur is old friend Thierry Gaudillere from Bourgogne Aujourd’hui. We are the first depart around midnight having shared an interesting table with a crew from French TV station TF1.
I want to be up on the Hill by 7.30 on Sunday morning for an hour before Sunday’s programme begins…
tasting CuvéDocteur Peste in the old Hospices cellars

tasting CuvéDocteur Peste in the old Hospices cellars

All the fun of the Wine Fair

All the fun of the Wine Fair


Harvest – some figures.

A winemaker sent me these figures today from his 2013 harvest, smaller than usual:
85 tonnes of grapes
21 tonnes carried by each porter in total
3 tonnes a carried by each porter per day
3.4 tonnes cut by each picker or 38,000 grapes over a weeks harvest…..DomaineGros.CortonRognets_CRW8386LoRes
I wonder how many baguettes and saucisson ?