Back in the Côte d’Or the sun continued to shine while the harvest action had moved north. So must I, with work to do in Flagey-Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin.
Harvest time is a difficult time to distract a winemaker for photographs. This is when being known and trusted can make the difference.
Meanwhile the team are hard at work in La Tâche
I manage to infiltrate and get invited to lunch !
On to Gevrey-Chambertin in an effort to gatecrash their harvest!
Every so often my harvest visit to Burgundy merges with another assignment in the Rhône and this year there was a third client, Flint Wines in London. Consequently when I arrived back in Burgundy I had missed most of the Côte de Beaune. I still had a very interesting time in the Côte de Nuits enjoying great weather and meeting very happy winemakers.
I had planned to visit Chablis but the dreadful hailstorm meant that trip was best delayed.Can you imagine trying to photograph someone who had just lost 85% of his Grand Crus a week before harvest…?
I managed to catch Jean-Michel Chartron harvesting their Chevalier Montrachet before having to head south to Avignon before returning.
Well it was not really a wine summer for me. A very brief trip to Château Clinet and the friendly folk there in Pomerol and another to Vosne Romanée to visit Cros Parentoux and the Henri Jayer connection in a shoot for Libers the auction house. The latter was interesting but I am staggered by the prices people will pay for wine when so many people are in need. But then the same goes for cars or any other luxury item. I guess high end craftsmanship should be supported, but selling a bottle of wine at auction prices is not really supporting the winemaker, just the ego of someone with a great deal of money. My apologies if I have missed something here but I am happy to listen to anyone with the opposite point of view… The same goes for all forms of art but here the artist’s reputation, if he is still alive, benefits and a queue forms for his work. I have seen it happen to a child prodigy and I wonder whether that is good for him as an artist, or as a person…
The photographer/subject relationship builds over time. Sometimes you taste together, sometimes (very occasionally) eat together. The basis of the relationship for me is trust. Winning trust is important and very satisfying.
I am very sad that I will never again meet up with Anne-Claude Leflaive or Joseph Henriot. The suddenness of their passing holds a lesson for us all. It also reminds me of a sign I saw in a photographer’s shop window in the north of England a very long time ago: “Secure the shadow, ere the substance fade…”
Their substance may have faded but their achievements were so important to Burgundy.
Before this sad news unfolded I had good week in Burgundy shooting a couple of days for the UK Burgundy specialist Flint Wines with Jason Haynes. I am so happy that someone is making a serious attempt to introduce their clients to the sources of the wine they are drinking. The growers all like him and appreciate his knowledge and his many visits. He has even managed to win the hand of a wine makers’ daughter Aurelia Gouges.
So rather than illustrating the usual faces for books and magazines I was being introduced to the less celebrated, often younger, but always excellent winemakers that abound in Burgundy if you are prepared to go looking.
Here are a few:
Another part of a busy week was to visit Mme Lalou Bize Leroy
in both Vosne and her home near St Romain. We both staggered to find it was 35 years since I had first photographed her !
Aubert de Villaine got a visit too, another long time subject.
Romanée Conti’s reception
is not the only place I came across my book !
Which reminds me that over a quarter of the print run was sold in November and December last year and it has reached the Amazon.fr top ten wine books 8 times in 2015 !
While in Vosne-Romanée I got a call asking me if I was free to go to Argentina after Easter for “a couple of days…”.
I was due to do a similar trip to Switzerland first but I was surprised to anyone would bring me to Argentina just for two days !
My Swiss trip was the idea of Charles Rolaz of Hammel Wines and although it was not the perfect time in the vineyards, there was plenty of activity there and in their cellars. The vineyard settings are both dramatic and majestic with their backdrop of snow covered mountains and shining lakes. Quite different from Burgundy on those days when you can’t see Mont Blanc !
I have not seen Argentina since 1988 and I imagine much has changed but the journey has got no shorter! 10.30 pm on Easter Monday and I’m off to Mendoza via Sao Paolo and Santiago and happily with an entire row of four seats to myself. I am due in Mendoza around 5pm on Tuesday and will go straight to work. Sadly I’ve just missed harvest but there still plenty of activity in winery. Once more I’m looking at mountains with snow on but this time with warm sun on my back. By midday on Thursday the job is done and I’m off to Mendoza airport.
No, no, its not me!
My son Joe has decided, on a brief trip to Spain, that he wants to walk the Camino de Santiago. But in order to fit it in before he set off for Oz as part a six month sabbatical, he went straight to St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees and started from there. On hearing that good friends of his had gone to Sierra Leone to help the fight against ebola, he has decided to try to use his effort to raise money for one particular organisation. He is about halfway and enjoying it, mostly,
and suffering a bit as well no doubt.
I’m glad he was able to pass through Rioja and take the day off to sightsee. His next wine stop will be Bierzo and I’m hoping he can link up with at least one winemaker I know in Villafranca. In 2010 while shooting for “the Finest Wines of Rioja and NW Spain” I often thought of trying the Camino and now my wife has caught the idea so it looks like it’ll be on the agenda soon! But 780km is a loooong way…
Having got up this morning to one too many emails suggesting I spend too much money on expensive presents for people who don’t need them, just because “its Christmas”, I thought I might suggest people spend that money in a different way. Does your dog really need a new collar for £33/40euros/$50, or should we be looking to spend it in other ways…? I love dogs, but none of mine ever worried about the caché of their collar…
So if you don’t need a new collar for your dog, you may choose to use the money here:
Here is the link to Joe’s Facebook page:
Fight Ebola in Sierra Leone: 400km of Camino Joe
Just don’t expect too many posts after tiring days!
I’m amazed how many views this blog gets from different countries around the world that are interested in Corton and Burgundy. No doubt everyone’s country is trying to help, but if you want to do something personally, here is your chance.
While you’re thinking about it, here are a few pictures from my 2010 visits that introduced me to the region.
Incidentally for people who like points, I see a Godelia Mencia Bierzo from 2010 scored 92/100 with WS and made 68 in their top 100 most exciting wines of 2014, only 8 places behind Nik Weis’s 2012 Reisling QbA Mosel Old Vines, 90 points.
No more advertising now, I promise, just pictures.
For me the weekend started on Wednesday evening! I arrived at Pernand and was off straight away to dinner with Marie-Luce chez elle. Delicious Jura Morteau sausage with potatoes, salad and camoillotte cheese and a Jura white.
Thursday was an early start for a French magazine shoot followed by a quick signing session at Domaine Claude Chevalier and Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine in Pernand, a major subscriber to the book and a great support of my work on the Hill.
The afternoon was a visit to Domaine Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie Vincent in Santenay, good pictures and a lot of chat. J-M claims to talk a lot, but I think he has met his match ! A very enjoyable visit and another lesson in how Burgundians think.
Then followed a race around to deliver promised books for several boys and girls who appear in the book.
Finally dinner and some French tuition with friends we’ve made in Magny-Villers, Christian and Anne-Marie. Magny is very close to Corton and some say I should have visited more, but its not on the Terroirs de Corton map…
A very nice dinner “en famille” is always a great pleasure and it was a change not to be talking about wine. Except that we did enjoy a 1983 Côte de Nuits Villages from a domaine sadly since disappeared. Village wines continue to astonish me. Of course it will depend on the vintage as with the two 1976 villages I had in 2013 from Aloxe and Chorey. The dry year provided the tannin needed for such longevity.
After a postponement in Vosne I was free for a couple of visits to thank subscribing vignerons and sign a few books. Dedicating in French is a new challenge, can’t say “large soif !” every time. I hope they will forgive my mistakes…
My visit to Clos de Tart was a mixture of sharing a tasting with a bunch of German professionals and half an hour with Sylvain Pitiot whose map of Corton adorns the endpapers of the book. Sylvain is always calm and very photogenic and has known me a while so it was a successful but fairly brief session.
I was then free until a session with Jean-Charles Boisset in Nuits at 5.30 so I went back to Auxey-Duresses to see how my good friend Tom ” The Hungry Cyclist” is getting with his business showing cyclists a good time on the roads and at the tables of Burgundy. He has converted a ruined watermill into guest accommodation over the summer and begun receiving guests.
I found him clearing out the millpond, hoping for interesting finds !
Having cycled from NY across the US and all the way south through Mexico in search of the perfect meal, Tom is the epitome of good humour and indefatigability.
After a brief visit to the Palais de Congrés in Beaune, its off to catch JCB as he passes through Burgundy.
Then a dash back through the rain to Beaune to enjoy a tasting, concert and dinner with Neil Beckett and Philippe Marquezy from World of Fine Wine magazine, courtesy of an invitation from Olivier Halley, new owner of Château de Meursault and Bernard Hervet.
Quite a late night 🙂
Saturday morning meant a more serious visit to Palais de Congrés before a lunch at La Dilettante in Beaune.
Walking through Beaune during Hospices weekend is always entertaining after the travails of finding somewhere to park!
All followed by a little shopping and people watching before I looked in at Roland Masse’s last tasting of Hospices wines before he retires and Ludavine Grivault takes over…
Slightly nervous, I am anxious to keep busy before my signing début at 3pm in l’Athenaeum. So I gatecrash the Hospices Sunday morning press conference. Normally its pretty chilly but I find myself down to my shirtsleeves – nervous energy ?
At the recommendation of Sylvain Pitiot (our third rencontre in 3 days!)I enjoyed a glass of Pouilly Fuissé from the winner of this year’s Jeune Talent, Romain Cornin of Chaintré. Then foregoing the press lunch I went back to my friend Thierry’s for a snack before my big moment…
Outside meanwhile, the auction continued but the crowd was a little smaller.
Monday and Tuesday: life returns to normal.
Except for my son Joe who today started the Camino de Santiago from St Jean-de Pied-Port. Bon courage et bonne route! On Corton Hill I am on the same road it seems, just a long way behind.
A good way to end the day smiling !
Today I joined the hundreds of thousands (millions?) who have been to the Tower of London to enjoy and admire the display of ceramic poppies conceived by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper that has captured the imagination of the country. It comes from an idea that was so simple but so effective. I hear that over 4 million people will have visited it.
My wife and I decided to walk the Thames down to Millbank to see the Turner exhibition. It work was brilliant of course but I’m sure the audio guides are a success. They are not complete and seem to send the viewer the wrong way round the room.
Anyway a really memorable, thought provoking and enjoyable day. Which is why its here.
Another type of ephemeral installation by artist Luc Valvona on the river’s beach.
There is a suggestion that the poppies be given an extended life at the Tower, then go on some fund raising tour. That it is a shame so many people who wanted to see it would otherwise miss it.
I feel that is disrespectful of the artists’ work. it will be a much less effective piece if broken up and sent to another location. What it is now is what it was supposed to be, and is a wonderful thing. The artist intended it to be temporary, these ceramic poppies cannot last forever. The sadness many people will feel because the opportunity to see it has been lost, is nothing compared to the feelings of those whose loved ones lost their future opportunities in dying during The Great War. All 888,246 of them.