A busy few days in Burgundy coming up so no posts for a week or so. Then there’ll be something on Hill activity at the moment and the fun and games of the Hospices weekend.
Talking of which I read that Elliott Erwitt, a famous, not least for his images of dogs, American photographer has just completed a 33 day assignment (on 3 visits) to photograph Scotland as a promotion for a whisky company.
Nice job! Good to know there are still jobs out there for 85 year olds !
So it’s true, that joke on a mug I was bought years ago: ” photographers never retire, they just go out of focus” !
On the subject of wine, I’m afraid didn’t have any books by Clive Coates. My wine library, with the exception of the two great works by Anthony Hanson and Jasper Morris, is made up of either contributor’s copies containing my snaps or interesting old stuff on Burgundy from charity shops. However Mr Coates, who never seems to see a place for photographs in his books, will find, I am pleased to say, a shot of mine on the cover of “My Favourite Burgundies” recently published by University of California Press.
I would not dare review a wine book, and only very rarely a photography book, so I can only say its a very good read and the maps of his chosen vineyards, that show who owns what, are a very interesting addition for anyone who manages to get into the vines.
Next time I need to shoot Christophe Roumier’s parcel of Bonnes-Mares, I won’t need him as a guide. How I wish there had been a vineyard profile of Le Charlemagne !
I see Jancis and Hugh have been flying their Wine Atlas flag in the US and I look forward to seeing my copy of the latest edition from two incomparable writers.
Having contributed not inconsiderably to Jasper’s ibook version of Inside Burgundy I’m tempted to say it is the future of winebooks. Have you ever carried Inside Burgundy in print any distance ? Add the pictures and videos to the package and it shows how exciting wine books can be. The problem with photographs has always been the cost of reproduction which is why my unpublished epic, http://www.blurb.com/books/1000837-je-suis-dans-la-vigne-a-year-in-burgundy still lives only on the net. Having a famous author and some text might have helped of course….
I bet some you are wondering what this is all about.
Well I said at the start I’m working for a year towards a book about Corton Hill in Burgundy. The vineyards, the work and workers and their communities of Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses and Ladoix-Serrigny. At the same time I am producing a six page article for four issues of World of Fine Wine. I thought seriously about the possibility of living there while I did it but in the end could not arrange that satisfactorily. So now I go at least a week per month to cover what I need to see. At the same time I am doing other wine and non-wine assignments as a working freelance.
What has inspired this whole project has been 15 years of visiting Burgundy and seeing what wine drinkers mostly don’t. I happen to think we would all enjoy a glass of wine more if we had a more intimate knowledge of its origins. Too many of us look at labels and think they tell us everything we need to know. I’m trying to to go a little further and show what labels cannot; that is the human element. Why do we value what is hand made above something a machine produces ? Answers on a post card please…
Being there yourselves is the best way, but if you can’t, photos can tell you a lot.
was the test run for Corton but its too expensive to publish without a rich patron. (Any out there..?)
The book has a French publisher who needs 2000 copies pre-ordered and to date 46 growers have ordered 1510. Of course a lot of the other 25 have better things to worry about than books at the moment, but we will get there. So meanwhile I keep shooting with a target publication date of Autumn 2014. This book will also have proper writers who know the history, geology, bio-diversity and wine making from a local point of view to make up the other third of the 240 or so pages.
And think in terms of 45-50 euro if you don’t pre-subscribe.
But I’m not here to sell, really, just to let you know what all this is about.
A little of what you fancy….
There is track, with tempting asphalt at both ends, that runs from the western Pernand-Vergelesses end of Charlemagne to Les Pougets above Aloxe Corton in the south. However, the middle section is a dirt road not that is, in places, not for the faint hearted. Best walked really. At harvest time there is a lot of activity and traffic. An interesting place to be when you don’t know who you’ll meet…
Editing 2 weeks seems to be though!
Thought it might be worth showing the lighter side of harvest rather than to many cutters and carriers. I had the opportunity to share meals regularlywith the pickers while I was working and also received invites to three end of harvest domaine paulées. All great fun.
Apologies for the very intermittent service here. An explanation is required. Just as I had got home from the 2 weeks of harvest shooting, edited what my clients needed and then begun to post again, my good friend Thierry Gaudillere from Bourgogne Aujourd’hui magazine sent two ravishing images of light on Le Charlemagne’ yellow/gold vines. I was hooked and had to return as soon as I saw a promising forecast.
Getting the best images of autumn colour is always a matter of luck. One hard frost and it all goes.
I had my shots from earlier in October but decided that the potential demanded a rapid ( and expensive return so last Wednesday morning the 11.31 Eurostar was booked at 9.00 and a Hertz car booked for collection at Dijon as usual. It may be asking a lot to book a car at 9.15 for collection at 4.30 but I was not expecting a vehicle with 78,520 km on the clock and a hand brake badly in need of adjustment. No time to argue, just get on with it ! Let’s see if my subsequent complaint to Hertz customer service on Saturday gets me any joy…
Sadly the weather was only good enough long enough to get book material not a good series on the whole Côte. The important bonus was that the alambique which distils from the wine makers marc was caught in action. My return in the third week of November would have been too late !
Local advice had been that he would be operational for much longer. Ho hum, a lesson learnt.
Anyway apologies made, here are a few pics, holding back the best of course 🙂
In case you are wondering why there is a two week delay in posting these pictures, I can only say that despite working 18 hour days during my time in Burgundy, I just could not find the time to edit and post a fraction of what I’ve been shooting !
I had hoped to arrive on Corton in time to catch all those growers with small parcels hard at work.
Coche-Dury for example in Charlemagne. Sadly he rang this morning to ask when I was arriving as he is starting, and finishing, this afternoon. The weather forecast is for some rain at the weekend so it’ll be busy when I do arrive tomorrow, Thursday 3rd. Happily I will be there for Comte Senard’s Clos des Meix on Friday, a nice little monopole.
The good news is that the Bonneau du Martray donation is 3 magnums of red Corton Grand Cru 2005. Hoping for for more great bottles in the days to come.
7.01 Eurostar tomorrow so I will be working by 2 pm !
More names to conjure with are helping out The Ground Foundation; Bonneau du Martray and Chandon de Briailles. Thanks to both, more news next week I hope.
I would like to pass on this link to those who drink French wine and can read a little French
I wonder what your reaction will be…
Well its been a quiet day on the donations front apart from:
Bouchard Pere et Fils who are selecting bottles as I write.
Turns out a lot of people started picking today or even yesterday, Domaine Leroy ( always aim high!) and Comtes Lafon among them. Others will no doubt be sharpening secateurs, washing buckets and preparing for an influx of pickers from heaven knows where.
Locals no longer seem to be interested in the back-breaking grind that is their harvest heritage and the young find its not worth getting up for. Probably a generalisation but I’ll see for myself in 10 days time when I get back to Corton. A large bus next to the vineyard tends to indicate imported labour.
A string of white Europcar hired vans is a much better sign.
I extended my vocabulary today. “Et hop !” seems to be another, more interesting way of saying “voila”, a word I don’t use because I try to use the right accents in my French correspondence and I can’t find the grave accent on my keypad, plus I’d probably use it far too much…
It looks like further additions to my French will be necessary as I look forward to a fortnight with the pickers. Still its better than trying to speak Polish or Portuguese. The phrase “comme un vache espagnole” comes to mind….
Just had a brief online chat with Matt Wilson http://www.mattwilson.cl/
He had kindly emailed good wishes after the Roederers where he had also been shortlisted. Its great to discuss what we do with photographers who have different experiences and another approach.
Claes Lofgren http://www.winepictures.com is another I respect a great deal, a very helpful guy. We all have to take in what others are doing and look at our own stuff with that in mind, otherwise we are just heading down a cul de sac.
Charles O’Rear http://www.wineviews.com is still my hero and it was amazing to meet him by chance in California while I was shooting there. When you have spent 25 years shooting for National Geographic and still have your feet on the ground its to be admired. I asked him the secret of his success.
“Two Nikons and a working wife”. ( Too right mate !)
That is a lesson in not taking ourselves too seriously.
Perhaps you won’t know he shot the “Bliss” landscape, the Microsoft screen saver.
After the Roederers this year you realise how many great wine photographers there are around the world.
Pity we can’t put our best work together for a book. Problem is, who’d buy it….?
Its the writers who are the stars.
I’m all for supporting good causes, especially if wine is involved, so why not take a look at this: http://www.thegrapefoundation.com and go buy some unique wines in a good cause. It should be one auction with no fakes around !
I have spent part of the day ringing and emailing winemakers I have photographed in Burgundy and await the results…
Current total is 1
What will tomorrow bring I wonder….
It seems I am slow at beating my own drum. OK just so you know, on Sept 12th I won the Roederer award they call “Artistry in Wine”. I’m happy to say it was against a far stronger field than the first two occasions.
The reality is I had a client, Fine Wine Editions, who has given such wonderful opportunities over the last few years working on their “Finest Wines Of …. ” book series. This gave the chance to get the pictures.
I have to say that so much affects the success of pictures you take. The whole thing starts with good organisation that leaves the photographer with nothing else to worry about other than getting the pictures and allows adecent amount of time to do it in.
Three of my four images submitted for the award were from Germany and I have to thank the VDP for there planning and support as well as the growers who received me so well and with such patience.
Overall The series of seven books has given me the chance to meet and photograph over 350 winemakers in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and California, from the famous to the almost unknown. With that opportunity and experience anyone should win something ! The kudos wanes but the experience stays with you, that is the real reward.
Into every vineyard a little rain must fall…. So on a saturday morning, with there being little work on the Hill, I trekked up to the Hautes Côtes de Nuits to see a photographic exhibition at Villars-Fontaines. The good thing was that I found the Auberge de Côteau and was able to book a table for that night before the crowds descended. Just the place for a meal out, on an autumnal evening especially, but fine in summer too I’d guess. A grillade and proud of it with a log fire and wine list not dressing to impress but good value.
NB I am not a restaurant critic, or an art critic come to that…
The exhibition certainly brightened up the streets and the subjects, the great and good of the area, may well like their portraits. Anne-Claude Leflaive looked fine but poor Christophe Roumier sported a black eye…
The vivid colours reminded me of the work of an artist who painted huge chunks of cork oak in the colours, that to him, represented the flavours of a particular producers wine. Not content with selling these pieces to the winemakers concerned, he then published them all in a book of hernia inducing proportions. Mine of course will not be as big, or as expensive. But as impressive as befits a site containing so many Grands Crus!
I hope you’re getting the idea that this book is as much about the people as the landscape.
Their work, their dedication and the demands of both. I want to bring you into their lives as much as possible so that we can see beyond the label to those whose life brings us such great wine. Bit of a mission really….