A year on the Hill of Corton

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Ornellaia and Gaggenau

What is the link here between these two? They sound like a pair of Wagnerian characters or a European version of Gilbert and Sullivan. Well one makes wine and the other makes something to store it in, but the link here is that both of them had me working in Tuscany earlier this year.

Ornellaia wanted pictures to show what a great place their winery and vineyards near Bolgheri were to visit and not long after I was on another flight to Pisa again. This time to photograph Marc Almert, the 2016 Gaggenau Sommelier  award winner enjoying a visit to Tuscany with two renowned sommeliers, his Gaggenau mentors Annemarie Foidl and Serge Dubs, to hone his skills.

Part Uno: Ornellaia

Back again at Ornellaia after ( is it really..? ). 9 years !

An understated entrance.

But complete with modern technology.

Vineyard post typography tells its own story.

So does the sky !

Sorry for the watermarks but they are meant to discourage unauthorised use !

And the barrel…

If you can interpret it.

Careful camera positioning.

We finally corner winemaker Axel Heinz and drag him off to the cellar.

Well that floor won’t show the stains…

Off to Bolgheri for lunch.

Oh yes, bring your wallet.

Decisions, decisions….

Back to work in the tasting room.

Two very amenable guests and a very presentable hostess make a possibly tricky situation quickly shot.

The ideal hostess !

For a memorable tasting.

Meanwhile, down in the workshop…. Actually not much happening.

But they are collecting samples in the barrel room.

Who is this guy !?
Yes its Andy Katz working on his next book !

The Ornellaia Oak at sundown.

But has Andy arrived too late..?

We’ll have to wait and see, good luck with the book Andy.

 

Part Due : Chase the sommelier.

Well it was a bit like joining a circus;  PR, facilitators, two more photographers, three sommeliers. Everyone with their own job to do for Gaggenau,  would it work out for me..?

Well yes, it seems, it did. The trick, get in first and get ahead.

I arrived ahead of everyone else and asked to go straight to see Giovanni and his vineyards at the Fattorie del Dolfi.

It was a very useful one to one meeting with the taciturn Giovanni aided by Maggie Wang from Gaggenau who knows him well.  A quietly passionate man who knows his land and vines inside out and is no great lover of silly questions I would guess. We spent  a  lovely hour or two exploring two of his vineyards ready for my proposed early morning tour with Giovanni and Marc, the award winning sommelier, the next day.

Fattorie del Dolfi.

Marc sees the benefits of getting up early.

Before the sun gets over the trees, Marc and Giovanni are deep in conversation.

We are rewarded with the hoped for light.

Back at the Fattorie, Serge and Annemarie are preparing some tests for Marc.

Annemarie with her hands full.

Marc goes through his paces.

Serge, Giovanni and Maggie enjoying a lunch al fresco

Then Giovanni gives everyone a cellar tour,

Giovanni gives me 5 minutes for a few pictures.

Giovanni’s home illustrates his sense of humour !

Day two is a tour of the very special Flor perfumery in Florence.

Marc and the team discuss aromas at Flor, before its time to head for the airport.

 

 

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From Volnay to the Valais

Its a happy coincidence when two short jobs can be dove-tailed together. Its not so bad to get from Dijon to Sion in the Valais and I was looking forward to seeing it for the first time, even if a little concerned to be shooting in the vineyards in early March ! I had a few portraits to make in Burgundy and was lucky enough to line up four people for my one day before I had to take a train ( 3 actually ) to get to Sion by lunchtime.

Guillaume d’Angerville at home in Volnay

Just up the street,Michel Lafarge and son Frederique

Always a good sign when your subject takes 2 glasses to the cellar. One of the “cosiest” I know !

Overlooking Gamay, a Lamy vineyard

Pierre-Yves Colin, happy in his new cellar.

PY has been doing a little tasting too.

As I often do, I took my sandwich to Corton Hill to watch the action.

Finished the tour with Thierry Brouin at Clos Des Lambrays. He politely declined to tell me who the new man at the Domaine would be. Now we know that Louis Latour’s loss is Lambrays gain. That’ll cut Boris’s mileage !

So off to spend a couple of days with Valais Mundi in Sion.

Hardly been in the Valais 10 minutes but I’m amazed by what I see.

Day one was drizzle, steep paths and getting to know locations.

I was informed they were so excited by my visit that it was to be featured in the house magazine of their parent company Provins. They had even called on their local photographer Olivier Maire to accompany us the following afternoon !  Not quite worldwide fame awaited me but it would be a new experience and probably fun. And good for me to experience being the other side of the camera.

That evening was raclette time with a cheese tour of Switzerland with Johanna and Damien the winemakers.

A cheese tour of Switzerland

The first morning was early and wonderful. Stunning scenery and beautiful light do wonders for vineyards in 50 shades of brown.

The appeal of a wine region depends on several things but the Valais vineyards have the wow factor, even in early March!

Which ever way you look.

A wine route stained glass.

Jean-Blaise, the vineyard manager was my chauffeur and location finder.

Jean-Blaise and a sample of his interesting terroir.

Back at the winery, Damien Carruzzo and Nicolas, Valais Mundi’s consultant, are waiting for their photocall.

After lunch and being memorably introduced to Petite Arvine, it was time meet up with Olivier and finish the shoot in the vineyards.

Olivier and his fill-in flash, watched by an amused Damien.

I am very grateful to Olivier for his professionalism, friendly patience and flattering photographs ! I appreciate now how much easier it is to be photographed doing your job than being posed.

I made the front cover !  I had to be interviewed for this too and a tricky question was “my favourite wine region”…..? Well, Valais takes lot of beating and Swiss wine…. well just try it when you have the chance.

Wonderful end to the day, and my Valais visit.

 

 


Palmer+Ducourt

When the call came to visit Château Palmer in the Medoc, I got in touch with the Ducourt family in the Entre-Deux-Mers to see if they had need of my services again. Happily marketing boss Jonathan told me there had been plenty of developments since my last visit and I would be busy, even if February was a quiet month.

As I drove into Margaux I was surprised to see sheep in the vineyards to my left – could this be part of the biodynamic approach at Palmer I wondered.  Of course it was and my afternoon was off to good start. Good to see Thomas Duroux again and be introduced to his cows ! More biodynamics.

In two hours I was on my way to Famille Ducourt with, for February, a surprising range of pictures in the bag.

Then followed two days with Jonathan and his grandmother, parents, uncle and brothers and touring their new facilities. A very strong family that is making great moves forward with their estates. In this years Decanter World Wine Awards their Château Larroque Bordeaux Superior 2015 was awarded 95 points and voted “Best Value Bordeaux Red”.

The February weather was best described as “interesting” but we got a lot done. Jonathan works you hard !

PS its the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards on Tuesday 12 September and  this image from the 2017 Paulée de Meursault is shortlisted.

See all the shortlisted images here http://www.theroedererawards.com/categories/artistry/

Wish me luck !

Thomas Duroux of Château Palmer

Jeremy Ducourt, winemaker of Famille Ducourt.

Measuring up

to get the blend right.

New Cellars at Ducourt

 


Venice

Having enjoyed a few days pre-Christmas a few years ago we returned in February with friends, and I promised to be less seduced with is photographic potential…… Well I tried.

The view from airport waterbus sets the tone, damp.

Usual view from the Accademia bridge, we’re off in search of some culture.

 

Not busy at the Accademia, even though its raining.

 

Perhaps he’s scaring everyone away..?

 

Maybe the shops are irrisistable…

 

Better get this view out of the way early on.

 

Accademia bridge 2

 

Harry’s Bar gets cleaned up

 

Ready for its visitors.

 

St Mark’s Square, open for business too.

 

Accademia Bridge 3

 

How to deliver a fridge in Venice 1

 

A birth announcement shines out in dark narrow street.

 

Florian, part of the Venice tourist experience, at a price !

 

Residents know the best places though.

 

How to deliver a fridge in Venice 2

 

No fridges allowed here at the Arsenale

 

Chocolate o’clock at the Arsenale.

 

Meanwhile at the Rialto market someone has to do the artichokes.

 

While these two take care of the fish.

 

And the shoppers arrive via the ferry.

 

If you want a seat, look for the man in the hat.

 

Someone enjoys it

On our first trip I avoided the gondolas, this time our friends were not to be denied the experience and it happened that one of them knew how to bargain ! Get the right gondolier and it really is worth it. A damp day means business is slow and negotiation is easier.

You might even get serenaded.

 

“Back in 5 minutes”

 

But the boats still have to be repaired.

 

That’s why the owners hope you’ll tip well !

 

All that walking gives anyone an appetite.

 

Everyone can find something they like.

 

One of the great diversions is observing the variety of Venice’s doors.

Wherever you might find them

Some grand.

Some odd.

and some ordinary but still interesting

Some scary !

Some shared.

Some raise a smile.

Some watched over.

Some just watched.

 

Of course Venice is not just for tourists……yet

 

Or photographers, Venice is a dream location, is n’t it..?

 

Sometimes a little extra guidance is helpful

 

Others are coming.

 

Meanwhile life goes on.

 

As everywhere.

 

Venice is still home

 

The usual things go on everyday.

 

The locals just see things differently… As they probably always have done.

 


Chile again, and meeting Carmenère.

The trouble, I have found with blogging, is that to do it regularly requires time, discipline, and something to post…

Well I have had not enough of the first two and too much of the third.  Just when I think I can take a break and blog a bit, something comes up. You, dear visitor, are only here for the wine stuff and that, we all know, is only part of life. So be prepared for a sunami of posts. Perhaps not all about wine.

First off, if I can remember, is Chile. Its always exciting to get a trip there, especially to Errazuriz who sponsored an award won in 2014. Not only that, there are are always beauty, hospitality, lots going on and great people.

A few days before my return to Chile for Vinedos Chadwick it was terrible to hear about the forest fires that were threatening vineyards and other agriculture there.
I did the haze of smoke even in Santiago and small areas of singed vineyards to the west but my trip was otherwise unaffected.
I was collected at Santiago airport and taken straight off to the coast to document the start of the Aconcagua valley at Vina del Mar. That started with lunch overlooking the Pacific and a bunch of pelicans!

As is often the case its often the photographs you miss that stick in the memory. As Raimundo scoured the streets of Vina del Mar for the restaurant he had been recommended to I spotted a straw-hatted man pushing an old wheelbarrow in the gutter, as we passed I caught sight of what it carried; a large framed portrait of the madonna and child in what seemed like fifty shades of purple !

I did not have the heart to disturb his concentration and ask Raimundo to turn round. And regretted it for quite a while ! He does n’t mind my occasional bouts of extra mural snapping, but not when lunch is overdue.

I rarely talk about the wines I encounter, I have no qualifications to pronounce on things vinous. However… this was my first meeting with Carmenere and I was smitten, much as I was with late picked Sauvignon Blanc last time. While many years devoted to Burgundy have formed my taste, my travels give me the chance to experience other things and that is something we should never stop doing, exploring the wine world. It is growing faster than we can keep up with !

For example, in Uruguay, Bouza’s chardonnay/albarino blend is a New World wine I will look for in future.

Enough chat, let’s have some pictures or I’ll never catch up, the Chile trip was in January!

Straight from the airport to the Pacific and a quick lunch watching the pelicans before exploring the Aconcagua Valley.

Welcome to Aconcagua Costa !

Surprisingly tame horses must belong to someone…

and cattle too.

But not to Francisco Baettig, Errazuriz winemaker.

This fox belongs to no one,
but helps keep down the number of rabbits.

Altogether a beautiful place, rolling hills that give a photographer no time off.

My discovery here this time was the Carmenere.

Next, on to Panquehue and more slopes and friendly faces.

The 19c gate to Errazuriz first estate.

The original building, or what was left after an earthquake. Now a charming visitor centre.

The “new” Icon winery.

Syrah and cactus on the slopes at Panquehue.

Francisco Baettig and Eduardo Chadwick keeping in the shade !

Mai Chadwick

And so to Caliterra for some more shots of Mai and another stunning location.

Is this a vineyard or a zoo !?
An alpaca poses for his/her (I’m not an expert) photograph at Caliterra.

Chile always offers new experiences!

Chileans love horses and my next visit was to Vinedo Chadwick, once the polo field of Eduardo’s father, Alfonso, long time captain of Chile’s national polo team. Eduardo knew this site in the Maipo valley was good for Cabernet Sauvignon and persuaded his father to turn his polo field in a vineyard in 1992.

Alfonso’s goal posts, Eduardo’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The haze on the horizon was the last of the smoke from the fires that hit Chile in January.

Eduardo in the old changing room full of memorabilia,cups and photos.

One corner of the changing room/museum at Vinedo Chadwick

Visitors are provided with a hat.

But not while tasting. Then they had individual spittoons.

Alfonso, polo’s ” poster boy” in the 1950s !

 

 

 

 

 


Jancis Robinson et al

One thing I’ve learnt about blogging is that posts with a good name attract readers, so please forgive me Jancis. Otherwise I was going to entitle this one “Shooting the messenger” !
One element of December and January was photographing three tastings and a book launch before I had to start travelling again. So here is an album of some of  your favourite wine writers at work.
My first was a morning at a wine shop like no other in London – Hedonism. Handily placed in Mayfair if you run out of Y’quem or Lafite. I was there to shoot a tasting put on by Andrea Franchetti for his IGT wines from Tenuta di Trinoro in the Orcia valley in Tuscany.

setting up at Hedonism.

Andrea Franchetti briefs the boys from Hedonism

and checks all is OK.

Stephen Brook was one of the first in.

Some of the stars of the morning.

Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson and Steven Spurrier are lined too !

Joanna Simon takes a shot.

Serena Sutcliffe, concentration personified.

Oz Clarke and Steven Spurrier not comparing notes !

Ella Lister hard at work.

John Stimpfig is all anticipation

The Cabotte Restaurant in London organised a blind tasting of wines from Nuit St Georges later in December.

The stage is set.

Jancis at the double !

Tim Atkin always make it look easy !

corksRHN_6611

screwcaps just would not look the same !

During the Burgundy tasting week in London Flint Wines asked to record their event. More cries of “Not you again!” from the tasters so I concentrated on the winemakers.Good to see so many familiar faces.

Tasting Burgundy with Flint Wines

Victoria Moore visits planet Flint

Etienne Julien amuses Flint’s Anja

Sons of Meursault, Antoine Jobard and Charles Ballot enjoying a gossip

Cyprien Arlaud making his point.

Tomoko Kuriyama, half of Domaine Chantrêves in Savigny-les-Beaune

The wine media were on hand at the Berry Bros offices in St. James’s for the launch of Ch’ng Poh Tiong’s new book “50 Bordeaux chefs:Top Chinese Restaurants in the World”. Simon Berry was on form as the host and Poh Tiong had provided some Château Yquem 2013.

Poh Tiong greets everyone while John Stimpfig arrived just in time.

Margaret Rand, Simon Berry and Anthony Rose are amused by something

Oz Clarke and Poh Tiong swop stories

Anthony and Neil Beckett conspiring over something.

Sarah Kemp of Decanter peruses her copy

Poh Tiong gets the traditional Berry Bros weigh-in after a good lunch.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing the vineyards again.
Next stop Chile !


Burgundy’s new generation

My apologies for a protracted silence, but as you will see later its been a busy winter/springtime visiting four different countries. That all coming soon.

Back in November (!), the day after the Paulée I made a quick return to shoot these guys or a Wine Enthusiast story about up and coming negociants in Burgundy. Rain had been predicted so we worked on and under the balconies of the courtyard at the Hospices de Beaune.
All great guys but put them together… Not so easy to control! Perhaps they knew me too well. A great time anyway.
Thanks to the people at the Hospices for helping us to shoot in such wonderful surroundings, Lee-Anne and Jean-Thierry.
If you have not been, you must !

Rain arrived on time.

Yes, pretty wet. We needed the gargoyles !

Looks Nicolas Potel has been up awhile before being no 1 on my list.

Brault and Gambal discussing work.

Messrs Croix and Voorhuis made the short walk from the winery in Beaune

while David Duband came all the way down from Chevannes in the Hautes Côtes.

Jeremy Seysses showing how much taller Burgundians are these days

Benjamin Leroux brought the future with him!

The future always enjoys puddles !

As soon as the group shot was done it was time to relax.

and enjoy the location.

Lots to enjoy in stone

and wood.

And the sun came out !

The bottle shot. For those who notice the gap in the bottles, that’s for a double page spread !

Jean-Thierry, man behind the scenes, came to let me out !

Another tough day at the office !