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.
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.
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
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 !<img
A vendangeur’s model of a cabotte still sits on a wall in Charlemagne six months later
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.
Down in Evelle, Philippe is hard at work keeping up with demand.
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!
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 !
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 .
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next stop its the war memorial and a stirring rendition of the Marseillaise.
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.
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.
At the memorial I call it a day, lunch is calling and that means queueing…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 )
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 !
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!
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…
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 !
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 !
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
Plenty to eat, 6 courses + coffee
And entertainment provided.
You never know who will come past.
Who you will be sat next to…
The food keeps coming.
New friends are made.
Its all a lot of fun!
Here’s to next year!
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…
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…
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…..
I wonder how many baguettes and saucisson ?