A year on the Hill of Corton


How will the Covid Harvest of 2020 be remembered?

Well I’ve been sitting here, in quarantine, so have had time to think and write.

I made a quick dash on 31 August and returned on September 4th, a 5 day trip that would not force me to quarantine in France if Mr Macron responded to Boris in like fashion again.

A short but delightful visit to Laurent-Perrier

I had only found out by research before my trip to Champagne in early July that he allowed corroborated business trips up to 5 days duration.

Anyway I missed the Côte de Beaune harvest but caught the tail end of Nuits up in Vosne and Gevrey. The word you will have heard no doubt is that the harvest is small but excellent if you make good use of your sorting table.

Triage at Domaine Champy

Since my travels to the Chalonnaise I really enjoy the break from green stripes going this way and that. Its nice to see a cow now and then so it was enjoyable ride except for the homeward rush of Côte d’Or pickers anxious for me to eat their dust.

Its not 2003 by a long way, or 1976 but they know the wine they will make they will be proud of.

My first visit hot from Dijon Gare having spent 8 hours travelling in a mask with Eurostar’s idea of social distancing spoilt by people not sitting where they should and finding that SNCF was rather similar. I had 30 minutes free of steamed up glasses to get to L’Etang-Vergy in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits.

Laurent Delaunay gets my week off to a good start

At an 19c château in L’Etang-VergyLaurent Delaunay is rebuilding the House of Edouard Delaunay having bought the house, winery and brand name back from Jean-Claude Boisset, it will be worth following his progress I’m sure.

The rest of the week from Tuesday early (7.15 in Nantoux ) to midday Friday, was a patchwork of visits up and down the Côte d’Or, to Chablis for a quick visit to Chablis and another to the Maconnais.

In Hautes Côtes de Beaune the winemaker previously at Louis Latour and Domaine de Lambrays, Boris Champy has found his dream organic and biodynamic estate in Nantoux. It was set up by Didier Monchovet in the 1980s and Didier was looking for a suitable buyer. Well he certainly found one. Domaine Boris Champy will be getting regular visits from me !

Both Laurent and Boris are raring to make the most of what the Hautes Côtes can offer in a warmer climate.

Meanwhile down the road in Pommard Michael Baum is spending his Silicon Valley millions ( it looks more like billions ! ) in renovating the vineyards and facilities at Château de Pommard, a series property that has not had much stability until Michael arrived. Stability may not have arrived yet actually. A huge crane, the sound of falling walls and the cutting of new stone and a large whole in the ground man there will be work going on here for a while and winemaker Emmanuel Sala is in temporary accommodation out at St Marie Le Blanche for a little while. I can imagine Burgundy is going to have an interesting few years ahead.

Winemaker Emmanuel Sala is happy with 2020

Another American, Mark O’Connell has teamed up with Pierre Meurgey to run Domaine de La Chapelle based at Château de Bligny to develop an estate around the Volnay premiere cru vineyard. It has recently caught the attention of Wine Spectator.

Mark O’Connell checks fermentation at his Domaine Clos de la Chapelle

After the day spent with these three it was off to try to get a picture of Frank Grux as he coped with the harvest at Olivier Lelaive. Always a warm welcome from Frank despite his discomfort in front my camera !

Frank Grux says its time for an apero.

Wednesday. Another early start to get more at Château de Pommard before returning to see Boris Champy for a little cassecroute of coffee and crepes with his young and enthusiastic team and to be introduced to Boris’s new acquisition, a state of the art vertical press and shoot some pipeage a pied.

Pigeage the hard (but safe ) way.
Bringing in the Pinot

. Then I head south through the Chalonnaise to see how my friends down there have got on before heading for my Maconnais rendez-vous with Gautier Thevenet in Quintaine before he starts his harvest

First up Clemece and Baptiste Dubrulle at Domaine de la Folie in Rully.

Happy its turned out well !

In Rully itself the Jaquesons finished yesterday.

Domaine de Villaine in Bouzeron still have pickers to feed.
Domaine Paul Jaqueson and friends in their “bubble”

Always late pickers, the Thevenets. Gautier’s father Jean explained when I first met him nearly 20 years ago that it used to be the way in the Maconnais.

Gautier Thevenet impatient to prepare for tomorrow’s harvest

Afterwards I return north via St Vallerian to see Didier carton-Vachet then to Rosey to collect some demi-sec goats cheese from Marie-Therese Bourjon and sign her copy of the book then on to Mercurey to Meix-Foulot to see how they enjoyed the “4 Seasons” and find myself signing another for Michel, another “rencontre par hasard”

Didier is always smiling !
In Rosey, just follow the signs.
Marie-Therese, super fromage de chevre.
Touches,one of my favourite views.
A stageur at Meix-Foulot has bought a souvenir,

A 6 pm cancellation allows me to meet my good friend from Bourgogne Aujourdhui magazine, Thierry Gaudillere and introduce him to the delights of an Italian made pizza in Mercurey at Basilicum. I was a regular there during my Chalonnaise visits, along with Mme Michelot’s bakery over the road and I wanted to give them both a copy of my book.

Thursday. The new Boisset winery, spectacularly as it is,covered in grass and vines I found the interior equally impressive. Greg Patriat has been in place there 17 years he tells me. He occasionally reminds me of previous visits as we tour his new facility. Its been a time he is very proud of.

Greg Patriat in his new “office” at Boisset

But its his busy time and he’s trusting me to work quickly and head off back to Meursault to catch Eric Germain at Domaine Vincent Girardin. Its another brief visit but its not long since I spent a day there for Vigneron magazine so I know Eric and the estate well. There’s even time for a coffee with Eric and marketing man Marco.

Eric Germain at Domaine Vincent Girardin.

Next, quickly back to Comblanchien to meet a new face for a change. And also, as it turns out, an older face too. I had read about Camille Thiriet on Jancis Robinson.com and decided I should get some portraits. She was busy with décuvage and pipeage when I arrived so I shot some action. Who was there, giving a hand and some advice but Bernard Noblet once of Domaine de la Romanée Conti and now retired. It speaks volumes to find that sort of help on hand.

Bernard and Camille doing some decuvage.

So to Chablis to see Didier Seguier at William Fevre after lunch. His harvest had just finished but his time was still precious. I have been coming to Burgundy for a long time and my reward is that I am taken seriously by such busy men. But you still must know what you want and work quickly.

A reminder of the 2020 vintage and William Fevre’s rigorous approach

Its a long drive to Chablis and back for half an hour’s work but I was happy to take a leisurely drive back to Beaune and have time to see old friends. Mounir from Lucien Le Moine is down in Châteauneuf du Pape taking care of harvest down there so I double back to Ladoix to see how things are going with Pierre Cornu. Its smiles all round there, what a lovely family they are. Ladoix is full of strong family domaines. I suddenly find its beer’o’clock and head over to see Serge the bee keeper to have a quick one and see if he has honey left. Sadly there’s no one in so I do a quick tour of Corton Hill where harvest has finished it seems. Can it really be seven years since I was working on the Corton book….?

Pierre Cornu and the next generation, Lucie and Paul
Pierre Cornu’s winemaking timetable.

Friday. I’m off home today after a morning touring the Côte de Nuits in search activity and a visit to Domaine de l’Arlot to photograph Geraldine Godot before heading for Dijon station.

Christophe Roumier in full swing so I don’t hang around !
Guillon’s Gevrey-Chambertin Champonnet
Odile at Domaine Michel Noellat in Vosne – the spirit of Burgundy 2020
Geraldine Godot at Domaine L’Arlot in Premeaux-Prissy unmasked !
I found some interesting light but the location was tricky !

Here there are a number of delays caused by an electrical problem and the concourse is filling up. Everyone has a mask on despite the warmth and you just have to find a quiet, socially distanced corner and hope for the best.

Fortunately the delay causes me no problems at Gare du Nord. Everyone is reminded to complete their locator forms ready to get into the UK. Trouble is if you chose to ignore the form there seems to be no one at St Pancras to enforce it. I take the tube home to start my two weeks’ quarantine amid a train full of people not bothering to social distance or wear masks properly, if at all….

In Don McCullin’s footsteps

October last year brought the weekend of Paulée de Chalon-sur-Saône with its vignerons’ parade, the big dinner, the exhibition of photos from my Chalonnaise book in the city’s streets and the opportunity for me and Emmanuel Mere and to play authors signing books. You never know what that will throw up. Well it was more of throwing down than up !

Friday evening’s tastings in Rue Luxembourg went well. I had brought my wife and daughter to enjoy the weekend’s fun and games and it was a great opportunity for them to meet some of the Chalonnaise’s finest. Vignerons not gendarmerie I hasten to add. Sadly the next day dawned damp and just got wetter. Not a book-buying morning and hardly an afternoon to parade through the old town following banners. But it takes more than rain to dampen spirits in Chalon-sur Saône. You’d have to go a long way to find more wet people smiling ! Sadly it was a problematic afternoon for the French TV crew filming for a popular travel programme. The Paulée itself was splendid and we were pleased to be sharing top table with Mr Gilles Platret, the mayor and a party of visitors from the Jura.

Friday and the powers that be in the Chalonnaise vineyards gather for a quick one before the official start of the weekend’s celebrations
No not posed, just lucky ! I found them the year later at the same event to get permission.
A little street entertainment !
Saturday afternoon. The guys from Montagny are glad of their cloaks this year, but are still smiling in true Chalonnais style !
The music goes on.
Rain, camera, action !
Lucky brass does not rust !
Huntsman are always part of the scene here, even in St Vincent’s Cathedral
“A table” at the Paulée
The brilliant winemakers’ choir making their TV debut at the Paulée .

Home 24 hours and then off to Argentina ! Arrive Tuesday, leave Thursday was the plan…… Visiting Catena Zapata I was hoping to get a portrait of the boss Laura Catena but sadly she was elsewhere. Never mind, I got to stay a couple of nights in Mendoza and pick up a Messi football shirt for my grandson as well as enjoying roaming the town for a couple of evenings. I wonder what its like in daylight ! I left before dawn and did not leave the vineyards until sunset.

You get great hospitality in South America and very well looked after.

“Another coffee, Jon ?”

The winery view west.
And find Don McCullen has been here too !
Pretty strong light but little on the vines…
Hitting the road to the Adrianna vineyard at election time.
A hole in the ground, one thing it is good to shoot when the sun is high !
Have a cup of mate while you wait.
Back to cellar.
Back in Mendoza the big match is on tonight, but I’ll be asleep ! Another early morning awaits.
Perhaps another time….
But first supper in the street. Wherever it was and whatever I ate and drank, I went back for more the next day !

Sweeping Mendoza streets with a palm leaf.
Another early morning at the Pyramid

After another good morning I was off at 11am to Weinert in Mendoza for a quick portrait en route for the airport and home.

HubertWeber and boss Iduna Weinert and, yes that says 2004 !
Any way you look at it, I have a long wait.

Iduna kindly dropped me at the Mendoza airport in time to do some lunch…

Yes a freelance does exist but it comes at a price – and its not worth it !
If there’s nowhere to sit in the airport, try the chapel…
The Latam team that found me my hotel !

It came courtesy of LATAM as my flight home had not only been delayed but rerouted. There were problems at Santiago where my flight was starting due to riots. So after a long wait we were flown to Chile for the night to catch a direct BA flight the next morning. So a safe bed at the Holiday Inn.. ( 2 king size doubles actually ) over the road from the airport, ( “don’t worry sir, you are perfectly safe, the army have surrounded the hotel and the CIA are on the floor above…… oh, and the restaurant closes in 30 minutes….” )

No football on the restaurant TV, just riots
Another “free meal” but not the beer that was oh so needed !

The problem was they gave you $30 US and the menu was in Chilean $ pesos… That lead to a slight “discussion” in the morning !

I do wish I’d bought some at Santiago airport as a souvenir of a surreal journey home !

Livres en Vignes 2019

I can only say blogging has not been a priority for some time. I am irregular at best and do not want the expression of my thoughts and pictures to become a treadmill, a virtual pet that needs feeding constantly. I hope to share, but on my terms. It is an outlet for me, not a marketing tool.

Coronavirus has brought normal life to a halt, so I have time to catch up.

It will give me a chance to relive, and reflect on, an interesting few months that now seem part of a former life I have lost contact with. Maybe it will bring it back to life and keep me going. We all need to keep going. We all need to realise the necessity to adapt, to change not only our lives, but ourselves. To reexamine our values from the new perspective forced on us. We have made mistakes, taken wrong turnings. Sometimes we do it out of thoughtlessness or selfishness. But we can start to improve things by doing the simple things with more thought for each other. Those small kindnesses that when we are able to perform them make others feel better and us too. We must appreciate what others do for us, how important are these small things that we are too busy to notice.

If we were worried about global warming, nature has told us off, put us in detention and given us time to adjust our thinking and behaviour. It seems as if it all comes down to a choice between possessions and people. Perhaps its time to worry less about what WE need and recognise the needs of others.

.Its not the economy, stupid, its your neighbour that counts. Not what he has and you don’t, but what you have and he does n’t.

Four years after my first experience with Une Année en Corton, I was asked back to this annual book fair to sit behind a pile of my second book “4 Seasons in Côte Chalonnaise”. It had been a much less traumatic birth as I was prepared for the labour of the final hours. However Laurent Poyol the designer was great to work with and was as kind as one can be when there are pictures to be culled. I took a look at initial layouts, rich in the designer’s input and recommended him to look at Ralph Gibson’s book of black and white photographs “The Spirit of Burgundy”. Beautifully clean pages prevent any distractions for the eye. Of course Gibson’s is an art book, the unintelligible preliminary text tells you that, so no captions are required.

4 Seasons is not “Art”, it is intended to communicate on a somewhat lower level. In an interview with Journal Saône et Loire, Emmanuel Mère the writer of the text, describes the book as a “vulgarisation”. Not a kind word to use on a book you have have contributed to I thought. On consulting numerous sources I found a definition that left me feeling a little less slandered: “to make intelligible.” In fact what users anything that is unintelligible I ask myself. Art in its many forms is, I confess, sometimes unintelligible. Paul Delaroche thought that the Daguerreotype had killed painting in 1839. I did n’t, it just sent it mad ! Or at least very angry. Its as if photography sent art or painting into a sulk and it would no longer talk to people wanted intelligibility. Of course photography, however much the English photographer Snowdon saw it as a craft, has become an art form and cut off relations with its forebears. So I am not an artist. I hope to introduce, to explain, to clarify, to admire,to amuse. But not to confuse.

Livres en Vignes you may recall from my last post on the subject is a wonderful weekend of meeting book buyers and authors under the hallowed roof and at the wonderful tables of Château du Clos de Vougeot.

Great fun and a “novel” experience for an Englishman ! Let the pictures tell their story…

Optimistic pile of books
This will do nicely !
Cécile Tremblay and Philippe Charlopin are interested in my neighbour’s book.
French author from “Central Casting “?
A visit from Les Muzards of Santenay
Apero ?
The Japanese love books about Burgundy
Jacky Rigaux draws the crowds
As does Jean-Robert Pitte
Can’t argue with that !
Meanwhile the kitchen is hard at work preparing for dinner tonight
Summoned by trumpets !

Time to mingle before dinner.
Some of us have been intronised !
Cheese madame …?
Time for a song
Or a speech
Or a chat with Jean-Nicolas Meo
Then another song…
Before the traditional finale
And Loic and the rest play a departing fanfare !
Everyone on their buses please !
Sunday morning we are ready to go again !
Under the watchful eyes of the monks.
and Vincent from L’Athenaeum !


Leonardo da Vinci on Wine

” I believe that great happiness awaits those men who are born where good wines are to be found” said Leonardo.

I have visited the Côte Chalonnaise for my book nine times since last March and after twenty years focussed on the Côte d’Or and I quickly noticed the change. A landscape that is somehow more intriguing, however much you vineyards, but also a greater openness among the people I met. I realised the pressure that exists in the Côte d’Or and its absence south of Chagny.

I won’t try to explain it, I expect you can work it out for yourself. I find the Chalonnaise a more relaxing experience. It is certainly not brought about because people don’t care or try. Believe me they do, but somehow they manage to perform the trick of smiling at the same time ! Even the farmer, feeding his cattle their winter feed in September because of a very dry summer, has an air of acceptance and can smile.

It seems Leonardo da Vinci sums it up for me. Note he does not say “great”. Chasing extremes is perhaps not the route to happiness for most people.

After the trip in September to cover the harvest, came the attempt to represent autumn without too many clichés but beauty is beauty and the colours and light are irresistible. It was good to observe the Paulée de Chalon from the outside and watch my Burgundian photographer Michel Joly and English wine writer and photographer Tim Atkin MW being intronised and entering into the fun of the event. It happened to coincide with a motor rally that blocked off sections of the Vaux valley at times and also lead to someone crashing into a parcel of Faiveley’s vineyards on the Rully to Mercurey road !

For winter I was intent on catching the harshness of the weather, so I spent what time was available in December watching a forecast which showed nothing but rain. So I stayed at home. January would bring a weekend away for the local St Vincent celebrations the week before the Tournante at Vezelay near Chablis. Its a wonderful place but there was need to be there for a book on the Chalonnaise.

It was impossible to be in 5 places at once for the parades, masses and meals but I somehow managed Mercurey, Rully and Montagny, all quite different in character.

I got some frost on my last morning and plenty of fog but no snow. I suspect I will have to do without it….. I am off shortly for the February trip with my fingers crossed. It is already a struggle to fit all the pictures into the space I have and book design is a complex thing.

Life lately has been full of distractions, not least the book itself and I don’t seem to be able to finish this post ! The experience has been wonderful and I just have the time to write it all down so I’ll just bombard you with pictures and hope they entice you looking further at the idea of visiting and tasting the Côte Chalonnaise.

The winemakers take to the streets of Chalon to celebrate the Paulée
The intronised trio of photographers can’t seem to choose which glass they want! Justo Rodriguez, Michel Joly and Tim Atkin.
The winemakers’ choir put in some rehearsal before the Paulée dinner.
Not everyone enjoys the band !
Winemakers’ choir practice…
Pruning in the Vaux valley
Pruning in Mercurey
A new way. These pruning are going to be recycled, not burnt 🙂
But they still toast barrels.
“Lulu” made this sculpture in St Vallerin for the Vincent Tournante celebrations in 2002, it was built to last, so was he !
Unexpected encounter at Jambles !
Another in Mercurey.
Quite a downpour on the plain east of Meursault
St Vincent’s day 2019 in Montagny
Serious business 1
Serious business 2
Ready for the parade in Mercurey
Montagny still eating at Buxy
Back to work, taking care of the future in Mercurey.
“A pied” in Chalon-sur-Saône
Chalon’s famous son, Nicephore Niepce started life here.
Bottling it !
Celebrating it!

The journey over, the job done. Almost. Now its time to edit a year’s pictures and put together the book. More triage, more culling, this is the hard part. Thank you to everyone in the Côte Chalonnaise for their great kindness, cooperation and good humour, its been a wonderful journey. Please look out for “A Year in the Côte Chalonnaise in the autumn

Anyway the good news is that a shot from the book has already won me the Pink Lady/Errazuriz wine photographer of the year 2019 and it could hardly be a less glamorous image. But then the Chalonnaise is about reality not glamour and I love it. Leonardo, you were so right !

Why do we drink Burgundy ?

The first bottle of Burgundy I bought, over 25 years ago, was an inexpensive white Mâcon from a co-op. I can only say it was not love at first taste. A later tasting of Mercurey red on its home territory did not lead to a purchase.

In the early days of any relationship, ignorance and inexperience are big factors in our decision making. As far as Burgundy is concerned my later introduction to it was  much more pleasurable, but then I was not having to struggle with the idea of any financial commitment.

Subsequent encounters have been easier as I gained a little knowledge and experience. However the reassurance of a “brand”, be it a vineyard, producer or “millesime” was useful guide as long as one stayed in the same area. For me and no doubt many others that was Chablis and the Côte d’Or, with occasional surprising forays into the Maconnais.

Not being vinously curious or needing to make regular purchases, I stayed where I was comfortable.  Until last year, when I was sent to the Chalonnais to photograph a few winemakers.

While I had come across very good individual producers in Givry and Rully, the other appellations were unknown to me.

Well, Montagny was a revelation, Mercurey was a surprise and Bouzeron a delight.

We should remember what changes there have been in winemaking over the last twenty years.

So I wonder what keeps so many of these wines a secret… Ignorance and inexperience was my excuse but I suspect for many it is the reassurance we gain from a high price and the constant repetition of “brands” by experts in the media. If we have the money we are tempted by the caché of these “brands”, but how many have the experience and knowledge to justify our choices. We are “sitting on the shoulders of giants” and following received wisdom.

As fashions change around the world and scarcity becomes a factor in increasingly high prices some people are protesting that their beloved Burgundy is no longer within reach.

Well all I can say is, go south, to the Chalonnais and start tasting.

I have been working there for a week every month since last April for my next book and I can tell you there is a lot to be discovered and enjoyed. Winemaking is as serious and as committed as further north but life is more real and relaxed and I’ve heard more than one winemaker whistling. High end it may not be, but its certainly more fun.

Time to think about why we drink Burgundy……

Meanwhile here is an introduction to the Côte Chalonnaise and what I found.

More to follow, but the best stuff goes in the book, out next September in French but with an English edition for those 20pp of text amongst the 220pp of photographs.

Vaux Valley in March
St Denis de Vaux in Spring
My “canteen” in Givry
Working above the mist at Montagny. Or is it Napa ?
Rully and its château. Have n’t seen much rain since,,,,
I fancy something simple tonight.
An artistic blacksmith in Buxy
Drama st Bouzeron
Making Brioche at Russilly during their Fête du Pain
A rustily local on his way to the entertainment
Elsewhere, at Lalhue a contest for working horses means the owners do the work !
Domaine de la Folie preparing the cellar for harvest.
Bringing in the Chardonnay at Domaine de la Monette
Hurry up, the rain’s coming !
Told you so !
Punching down at Domaine Joussier

Grands Jours and exploring the Chalonnais

On paper “Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne” is not really the best time ( March ) for a photographer to visit Burgundy. The vigneron are busy with their bi-enniel home  fixture with the world’s wine buyers and wine press. They must be transported, fed, entertained and, apparently, protected from the elements.  I’m told one journalist arrived at Mercurey during the deluge on Thursday and, on seeing the next available asking space was some distance from the venue, turned round and went away!  Well he missed a good tasting, excellent value and an excellent lunch ( prepared for 950 visitors !).  The old adage of rain following a view of Mont Blanc should have made him think of taking the navette from Beaune on Thursday.

The week began as usual at Dijon station at lunchtime an I headed for a session with Gregory and Antoine Gouges in Nuits.

Consider how many people have rung that bell,including all the Burgundy aficionados you could name.

Gregory and Antoine finally relax !

Tuesday: Its the Palais de Congrés in Beaune today to get mt GJs accreditation and hopefully use the press room’s wifi to email my Gouges portrait back to UK. Then cruise the Volnay, Beaune, Pommard tastings for old friends and new subjects.

BIVB press room facilities.

Brian Sieve from de Montille and François Bitouzet discuss Volnay

Jean-Marc Cachat reminds me where we met last time.

Yes he was planing new chardonnay vines above Beaune, not Pommard as I thought. Close to the border no doubt !

While Pierre Cornu’s cousin Manu holds the fort in Beaune as he is at Terriors de Corton in Latour’s cuverie.

Look what I find at Terroirs de Corton and I meet a lady “subjugée” by the pictures !

The Latour cuverie, a national monument seems to be where everyone wants to be.

I’m lucky to catch up with the new man in charge at Bonneau du Martray and get a few pictures

Off to Meursault’s renovated leper hospital and a greeting from Marie-Anne Bouzereau-Gruere.

Meursault has its own show and expects plenty of visitors

Quite a sandwich at Meursault !

That’s enough crowds for the day, I’m off to the south in search of some drama !

An odd corner in Bouzeron.

Wednesday promised to be the best day of the week and I’m lucky to have a B+B in the vines

Mist over Buxy.

with a grandstand view over Buxy and I was lucky to have a guide as Thierry Daventure from the B+B to take me around Montagny.

Montagny les Buxy. Home to some of my favourite whites.

Working above the mist at Montagny.

With Jully les Buxy in the distance.

A lunchtime walk in Buxy.

metalwork in Buxy 1

Metal work in Buxy 2

José in Moroges.

What goes with a good Chalonnais red…?
Charolais !

Exploring Givry.

Not sure anyone’s home though.

But plenty to see.

The perfect time to tour the Vaux valley.

St Denis de Vaux.

Only shadows in the streets at St Jean de Vaux.

Thursday in Mercurey brought a different story…

Water into wine ..?

What they are all here for.

Paul Jacqueson serving wine at lunchtime.

No shortage of choice.

Anyone for cheese?

Something sweet and sticky?

Have pencil, will travel.

Heading off to Rully I see a Mercurey name I recognise.

Champ St Martin on the road to Rully.

Vincent discusses Rully.

Friday. Homeward bound after a final call at the GJs

Burning prunings at Gevrey – after the rain.

Inside at the GJs at Gevrey

Gendarmes from Gevrey told me they were just looking…  So was I ! Time to catch my train.

Burgundy: changing places. .

Onward and upward is a good theme. The last few months have seen some changes. Of course Burgundy changes seamlessly most of the timeDomaines are born or disappear as their owners do.

New hyphenated names appear just when you are not looking. What has been one domaine for hundreds of years can be divided by siblings. The tax man has to be paid so vineyards are sold off. New domaines are born, others are strengthened. With the wines achieving such fame and unheard of prices a  leading domaine can change hands of excruciating sums of money partly because the majority do not come on the market but just stay within families. But the increasing price of the land means that a livelihood that is sometimes precarious, as we have seen all to often in recent years, produces for many an income that bears little relation to the value of the property. That cannot be a good thing. Sooner or later even the successful estates come onto the market if there are problems of succession and the region suffers a small tremor as new forces are felt.

Even when a succession is secure we still lose great winemakers. But we all have our allotted span…

For these reasons there have been new faces appearing at familiar addresses over the past year.

It seems  like quite a shake up but Burgundy with its long history has a way of just continuing in its usual way. Some people worry new people will change Burgundy’s direction but that direction is controlled not so much by people as its history and its nature. Wine makers throughout Burgundy know that they do not control their lives. Their terroir does.

Chardonnay in Pommard..?! Monsieur Cachat says “Why not, this is Beaune !”

Meanwhile Denis Berthault in Fixin has handed over to daughter Amelie but is still helping out a bit.

Thierry Brouin is saying goodbye at Clos Des Lambrays after 37 years.

Thierry will stay on while Boris Champy late of Louis Latour settles in

And this “ecusson” will be coming down under new owners.

Sylvain Pitiot too has retired, I shall miss his patience, smile, craggy face, piercing eyes and those glasses

New man Jacques Devauges comes all the way from Domaine de L’Arlot

This memorial in Domaine Leflaive’s Bâtard Montrachet marks Anne-Claude’s sad passing.

Brice de la Morandiere is in charge now.

So there are developments and new investments.

But the ethos remains the same.

So these promotional thermometers are a rarity but speak of times past. The girl in the vineyard look as if the pay was pretty good and the work easier !

As do the windows in the former cuverie at Close de Vougeot.

Elsewhere things go on as usual as Franck Grux, Olivier Leflaive and Jean Soubeyrand pose in the shade of a Puligny roundabout.

Jerome Flous and Erwan Faiveley show me round the Faiveley cellars in Suits St Georges.

The tourists make the most of June sunshine.

And Pierre Duroché of Gevrey-Chambertin indulges in some evening climbing above Chambolle-Musigny.


Plus ça change…..



Arinzano, a Vino de Pago in Navarra.

At Arinzano they are very proud to be a Vino de Pago, a vineyard recognised as a specific site, a superior appellation within an appellation is the simplest way to put it. Their name may not be one  you are not familiar with but wearing my non-expert hat I loved it, especially the white ( my usual weakness ).  My trip to the estate in Navarra was the repeat of a visit for the Finest Wines of N Spain book,which was in itself a wonderful eye-opening experience. The estate is now under new ownership but the gate and its view are still stunning, only this time I arrived after a two hour taxi ride from Bilbao which should not be seen as a drawback but very much a bonus. The scudding dark clouds were too. Its a dramatic spot that would have looked a little tame under a clear blue sky. The guest accommodation was perfect, with vines all around and I was spoilt with lunch and dinner at a variety of suitably good but relaxed local restaurants in the company of the wine maker, Diego Ribbert and  the general manager Manuel Lozada. What could go wrong…? Is n’t there always a downside, a hiccup …?

No not here.

That was saved for another job….

The kind of shot that needs the light coming from just the right direction and means an early morning.

On the other hand the location of the vineyards in a valley running north to south means the ‘hero’ shot will have to wait until mid morning which gives me time to get breakfast before I scramble up through the scrub and thorns to a suitable viewpoint.

Breakfast, deserved and needed. In Spain lunch is mid afternoon.

3 cameras ready to go.

Dramatic light means heavy rain is on the way.

The valley channels the wind and the rain moves on. Rot is not a problem here.

Eventually it rains and its time for lunch.

Followed by some indoor work in the cellars.

Clearly looking forward to having their picture taken, José, Manuel and Diego.

More of the team Diego with Ana and Iván.

My fun transport among the chardonnay !

An attempt to do a slightly different ‘bottle shot’ Shooting a moving target and getting the labels sharp was not as easy as I had thought !

Ana realises that modelling is hard work !

Coffee and cake was our reward.

Manuel hard at work in the cellar.


Petit Village

If I have a favourite part of Bordeaux I think it is St Emilion, in spite of its touristic tendencies, but when asked to go to Pomerol I was not too unhappy!

I was off to Château Petit Village, a name I had often passed by and was going to spend a whole 24 hours exploring it and meet….. It looks a small property but then I don’t know Pomerol vineyards so well despite several visits. All the houses seem more like farmhouses than châteaux although some are grander than others. That of Lafleur would surprise most people, across the road as it is from the famous Petrus.

Anyway Petit Village at least has a small avenue of trees and modern extension. And some guest accommodation that is always so welcome. One glance  out of the window tells you whether to get up or not ! Of course its flat but there are no distractions, no frills. Everything is for the wine.

Diana meets me on the drive and I given the tour. The modern extension is impressive but simple, everything is functional and well thought through. I am left to wander the vines alone as the sun drops before showering and meeting up with Diana and her husband to have dinner in St Emilion. The next morning is grey and I’m grateful I made the most of the previous evening. I have only the morning to shoot some more portraits, the tasting room, barrel room and cuverie and time passes quickly until I am summoned to my taxi to return to Bordeaux. It seems there had hardly been time to blink but in fact it was a very pleasant opportunity to enjoy a little corner of Pomerol and friendly hospitality.

Château Petit Village in a sea of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Franc.

I think its Franc on the right….. or the left… no, on the left, definitely, I think.

The modern winery at Petit Village

Winery interior with individual tanks for each plot.

A view at dusk.

The “château”

Diana Berrouet-Garcia, the boss in her tasting room.


Checking the wind before spraying.

Its that easy to lift an empty barrel !




Au revoir at Clos Vougeot and goodbye to Paul Bocuse

Over close to twenty years I have been visiting Burgundy to photograph,  either to build my archive or to fulfill commissions. Consequently I have got to know many domaines. And I guess they have got to know me. Some relationships died on the vine, but most, happily, have flourished. It is sad when there is a parting, for whatever reason. I will miss Sylvain Pitiot at Close Tart and soon his neighbour at Domaine des Lambrays, Thierry Brouin is handing over his reins too.

In early June I was invited to the leaving party for Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière at Close Vougeot.

If you follow Burgundy you will think know all about the sale of Bonneau du Martray. But I doubt you do. I don’t but an internet  petition or crowd funding were never going to change the course of events. I have too much respect for the estate and everyone there to dissect events and gossip.

I had never been to a ” Cocktail dinatoire” but thought it best to pack my suit. Jean-Charles requested I leave my camera behind and I was all in favour of that. No doubt there would be plenty of people I knew to occupy me. So there were, but far more I did not. I was carrying my phone in order snatch a few souvenirs of this much anticipated evening and it came in quite useful. It proved impossible, until I was queueing to make my farewells, to speak to Jean-Charles and his wife and I found myself meeting more and more people I did not know and having to explain my presence.

Early in the evening my eye was caught by the Cuban boots of Bonneau’s vineyard manager Fabien so they were snapped and I started noticing the variety of footwear on display in the chateau’s gravelled courtyard. It seemed both an alternative way of recording the event that might amuse Jean-Charles and a good way of meeting anyone in interesting shoes!


Not yet crowded

Party over.

Paul Bocuse  R.I.P.

Today the chefs of France and elsewhere have gathered in Lyon to say farewell to Paul Bocuse.

Note that I do not have to explain who he was. Such are legends.

I was vey fortunate to meet him in April 1996 at his restaurant where I was photographing. I was on a 3/4 week assignment to shoot France’s Michelin 3* chefs’ and their restaurants. Back then it was a new area for me so there was a fair bit of trepidation in the blood stream. 3* chefs may be used to publicity but you don’t get 3* while suffering fools gladly. HoweverPaul Bocuse had seen it all and got the cordon. When he realised he was only my second chef subject (ever!) he was kindness and patience itself. Perhaps his great interest in photography helped him understand. I remember him setting up a magnificent shot full of copper pans and all kind of fare with himself and his cordoned chefs arrayed behind.

Having broken down all my kit and cleared the kitchen to prepare for service Bocuse invited me to sit at his table in the kitchen for lunch. Taking a trip to freshen up I spotted the shot I had just taken, hanging, framed in the corridor……

Over lunch I decided I had somehow to get another portrait, even if it meant a return trip. And it did.

However my second visit coincided with the arrival of the Bocuse giant chocolate Easter egg which he asked me to photograph. He then proceeded to snap me with his Leica. Surprise enough that was only only greater when, a few weeks later, 3  small autographed black and white prints arrived in the post !

I was not a famous photographer to be wooed, just a beginner, but he was a friendly, generous, kind and extremely helpful and thoughtful. He will be fondly remembered for much more than his food.

My 1996 Michelin guide contains 17 dedications from 3* chefs, here are the first two.

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.



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.




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



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 !


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 !

Meursault Paulée revisited.

Having suddenly become a (publishable) writer I arranged to refresh my memories of the Paulée before writing a piece for Norwegian magazine Vin Forum. Its always great fun to see winemakers from elsewhere to enjoy the event but I think it may not belong before guests need napkin waving lessons, it was not quite as enthusiastic this year, perhaps fatigue had set in or there were too many shy first time visitors. I certainly noticed a US male still wearing jacket and tie at the end !
Making his debut, but far more enthusiastic were Dan Keeling and his Noble Rot team who fully emerged themselves ! Honoured to be asked, I gave them a good deal on photos of the event, so look out for the next issue !
Also noticeable was a strong contingent from Côte de Nuits with Mathilde Grivot and Eve Faiveley setting the pace.
The lunch in pictures :

Places are set

Places are set

Final preparations before everyone arrives

Final preparations before everyone arrives

and the staff are ready, well 3 of them at least.

and the staff are ready, well 3 of them at least.

Yes, the idea is that you bring a bottle to share. The decision is, which bottle will impress !

Yes, the idea is that you bring a bottle to share. The decision is, which bottle will impress !

Mathilde and Eve mean business.

Mathilde and Eve mean business.

Old friend Jean Marc Brocard , all the way from Chablis.

Old friend Jean Marc Brocard , all the way from Chablis.

It's nice to offer a choice sometimes.

It’s nice to offer a choice sometimes.

The food is on the way.

The food is on the way.

And the bottles are opened.

And the bottles are opened.

and photographed!

and photographed!

and shared.

and shared.

and emptied !

and emptied !

Dominique Lafon does the rounds.

Dominique Lafon does the rounds.

and the waiters try to find a way through!

and the waiters try to find a way through!

as fast as they can.

as fast as they can.

while things get organised in the kitchen,

while things get organised in the kitchen,

Pierre-Yves Colin stays at the table

Pierre-Yves Colin stays at the table

while Jean-Marc Roulot delivers,

while Jean-Marc Roulot delivers,

and Nicholas Rossignol remembers his first vintage.

and Nicholas Rossignol remembers his first vintage.

The wine keeps coming,

The wine keeps coming,

and coming.

and coming.

and the music keeps the mood going.

and the music keeps the mood going.

New friends are made.

New friends are made.

While one has better things to do.

While one has better things to do.

Eric Rousseau among friends

Eric Rousseau among friends

Napknin waving taken seriously....

Napknin waving taken seriously….

Happy chef and traiteur.

Happy chef and traiteur.

Déjà vu in Beaune.

Joining the queue at the Hospices new cellars on Friday afternoon

Joining the queue at the Hospices new cellars on Friday afternoon

Occasionally when I think I should take a rest from Burgundy, perhaps because there are no assignments in prospect or I have seen enough of one event or another for my view to become jaded, I will decide to take a rest. Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder….
And then suddenly, weeks after I’ve contacted potential clients, within 2 or 3 days and usually a week before they are needed, I must attend to the needs of four clients !
The jobs vary from a single portrait each( as you are in the area..,) for a magazine and a UK importer, to an eight page article with half a dozen portraits to shoot plus the need to bring everyone together for half an hour for a group shot.
Unlikely as this eventuality sounds you must remember this is Burgundy and anything is possible.
This time I all also find myself heading for Beaune’s big Auction weekend and the Paulée de Meursault to shoot and write two articles for a Norwegian magazine. The next day to spend my day around the courtyard of the Hotel Dieu itself hoping the tourists have all gone as I try to photograph six negociants for a US magazine.
Lets hope this post is not November 2014 all over again.
The writing is a new thing and very satisfying when it flows…. I cannot call myself a wine writer, no one would but apparently as a photographer I have a different way of see things. and I hope to bring some background to the world of tasting notes and scores, vintages and the preferences of experts with far greater ability, experience and discrimination than most of us will ever need, let alone achieve.


Service with a smile

Service with a smile

No need for a glass.

No need for a glass.

A nice touch is the identity of the vigneron who takes care of that vineyard and he could be serving the samples too

A nice touch is the identity of the vigneron who takes care of that vineyard and he could be serving the samples too

Remember it has not been long in the barrel.

Remember it has not been long in the barrel.

To spit or not to spit...?

To spit or not to spit…?


Ghislaine Barthod and Stéphen Gelin  guarding the door at the Beaune Fair

Ghislaine Barthod and Stéphen Gelin guarding the door at the Beaune Fair

Olivier Lamy on duty

Olivier Lamy on duty

Greg Love with new camera meets Nicolas Rossignol and friend

Greg Love with new camera meets Nicolas Rossignol and friend

Nadin Gublin of Jacques Prieur without her pearls

Nadin Gublin of Jacques Prieur without her pearls

Hmmm, we like that one !

Hmmm, we like that one !

Sylvain Pataille on the Marsannay stand at Beaune's Palais de Congrés

Sylvain Pataille on the Marsannay stand at Beaune’s Palais de Congrés

Time for a glass of Cremant..?

Time for a glass of Cremant..?

Jacques Carillon pours the Puligny

Jacques Carillon pours the Puligny

Laurence the sommelier does his homework

Laurence the sommelier does his homework

Street food in Beaune

Street food in Beaune

Press tasting at Hospices, concentration at every turn

Press tasting at Hospices, concentration at every turn

Every seat taken.

Every seat taken.

A room full of expertise

A room full of expertise

And quite a few samples to get through.

And quite a few samples to get through.

Saturday draws to a close.

Saturday draws to a close.


Did Nicolas Rollin have any idea what he had started !

Did Nicolas Rollin have any idea what he had started !

Ludivine Grivault, Hospices winemaker, ready for the big day.

Ludivine Grivault, Hospices winemaker, ready for the big day.

In the streets of Beaune the fun has started at the cork pulling competition.

In the streets of Beaune the fun has started at the cork pulling competition.

It goes on for sometime with an MC never lost for words....

It goes on for some time with an MC never lost for words….

Sustinance is always at hand.

Sustenance is never far awayBurgundians like a big band ! Burgundians like a big band !



And the media gather, Vivienne Franks meets Andrew Jefford.

And the media gather, Vivienne Franks meets Andrew Jefford.

Inside the Hall there is still work to do.

Inside the Hall there is still work to do.

But it does not take long...

But it does not take long…

to fill up when lunch is over.

to fill up when lunch is over.

Paddles are ready.

Paddles are ready.


And the buyers are waiting.

Outside the photographers are busy

Outside the photographers are busy

as the celebrity auctioneers arrive to raise money for their charities

as the celebrity auctioneers arrive to raise money for their charities

The action gets underway.

The action gets underway.

"Jon, what's this for?" Mounir likes a joke.

“Jon, what’s this for?”
Mounir likes a joke.

While Dimitri Bazas of Maison Champy is doing his sums.

While Dimitri Bazas of Maison Champy is doing his sums.

Meanwhile the girls are getting the buyers interested.

Meanwhile the girls are getting the buyers interested in bidding.

and outside technology blends with history and beauty.

and outside technology blends with history and beauty.

Meanwhile, in Place Madeleine the excitement is of another kind.

Meanwhile, in Place Madeleine the excitement is of another kind.

Waiting for the rush !

Waiting for the rush !

Jasper Morris finishes the day with a smile.

Jasper Morris finishes the day with a smile.


Burgundy assesses a tough year

Well we have heard so much this year about the disasters befalling Burgundy, indeed there was a double page drawing in Decanter of winemakers queueing to sell vineyards to negociants in order get through their grape famine. Frost, hail, rot, what a year. In the end the winemakers’ skill and tenacity along with a redeeming August come to the rescue and what grapes I saw and was given to taste looked excellent. We must wait and see how everyone survives. Winemakers don’t like to comment until the wine is in the barrel, neither should we.
Those negociants who I did serendipitously encounter (mainly by blocking their route with hurried parking in the vineyards!); Gilles de Courcel from Chanson, Erwan Faiveley, and Louis-Fabrice Latour were, as usual taking a positive stance, good quality being anticipated but small numbers…
One winemaker in Côte de Nuit was listing his losses on his fingers with some virulence, including all his Chambolle-Musigny premier cru but even he had not lost the 75% that I have come across.
There is no doubt these guys have had a hard time and have no alternative but to increase prices, but they know how that will be received, so this is a year to tighten the belt, shelve future projects and hope St Vincent and St Medard will look kindly on them in 2017.
I was to combine visits to Vincent Dancer in Chassagne and Chandon de Briailles in Savigny with other things that have cropped up to take me to Comblanchien, Vosne and Gevrey along with keeping my eye open for some harvest action.
It was difficult to anticipate what I would find but at least the weather forecast was promising.

symbol of a small crop...? Certainly no joke.

Symbol of a small crop…?
Certainly no joke.

Somebody selling up.... That's a bargain, 150 euros new I'm told

Somebody selling up….
That’s a bargain, 150 euros new I’m told.

My first encounter of the trip was a positive one, Etienne Julien in Comblanchien. The village is more known for its stone and a wartime massacre than its vigneron population and the Domaine Julien sign does not stand out very well. Which is a pity as it is well made and humorous, resembling many a vigneron sign I have seen in Champagne depicting the metier of the winemaker. One might say Etienne is well made and humorous himself, there is certainly enough of him ! I postponed a chance to taste as he was preparing for harvest but I am assured by two friends I trust that he is a “rising” star.
Rising but with two feet firmly on the ground.

Domaine Julien's well camouflaged sign

Domaine Julien’s slightly camouflaged sign.

Etienne Julien at Comblanchien

Etienne Julien of Comblanchien.

After a quick ride around Corton Bressandes, finding new tarmac and tourist signposts but not much action, I headed through Aloxe-Corton past the dismal boarded up concrete bunker that was once Reine Pedauque and had my spirits lifted by the sight of Franck Follin’s cottage.
I was expected at Domaine Chandon de Briailles to discuss a day’s shoot tomorrow and in the gravelled courtyard in front of the magnificent house I am met by Claude Jousset-Drouhin and her terrier “Darling” who must once have escaped from a circus he (she ? I do not notice such things) is very agile, well trained and generally adorable.
A tour of the house where her parents still live and the gardens, where her children still play is followed by discussions about time and direction of sunrise and the possibility of shutters being left open all night for a dawn start and how to open the large front gate.

Darling he should be with the angels on the label !

Darling, he should be with the angels on the label !

I've just missed Franois treading grapes it seems.

I’ve just missed François treading grapes it seems.

Tuesday dawned with clear skies overhead but cloud in the east for the sun to overcome. Never mind, I had wrestled with the gates and eventually got in.. You may be able to pick your hour, and your day, but seldom the season when you have an assignment to shoot and dawn in June would have given me a better angle at first light and shooting buildings is often about angles and timing. In September the sun must find its way through the trees and is almost right behind me when it appears. After an hour with the pickers harvesting Corton Blanc at the southerly end of Bressandes I was back to the house which was better but less interestingly lit. Never mind, casscroute comes to the rescue and there is plenty more to do and there is still the west facing side to shoot at dusk and beyond.
But first, lunch.

At last Francois can sit down !

At last François can sit down !

Starting with organic tomatoes from the garden

Starting with organic tomatoes from the garden.

Then boeuf bourguignon with organic carrots

Then boeuf bourguignon with organic carrots.

Merci to les belles cuisinières

Merci to les belles cuisinières!

Francois is content

François is content.

Claude sampling the press juice

Claude sampling the press juice.

Back to the press.

Back to the press.

Waiting for dusk and an “all lights on” shot. A long wait….

A long wait ahead for the right balance indoors and out.

A long wait ahead for the right balance indoors and out.

Early mornings at harvest time are great and on Wednesday I was off to Chassagne to see Vincent Dancer for the day. Back in 1998 I asked JancisRobinson who would be good to photograph in Burgundy and Vincent was among the names so I have known him a while.

A very discreet address

A very discreet address.

Looks like a promising day in Chassagne

Looks like a promising day in Chassagne.

Fusain checks ID at the gate.

Fusain checks ID at the gate.

Abbaye de Morgeot

Abbaye de Morgeot.

I am introduced to Marcel who is doing his 60th harvest and discover I photographed him in 2010 for a story about Chassagne-Montrachet’s St Vincent celebrations !

Marcel doing his 60th harvest, chapeau !

Marcel doing his 60th harvest, chapeau !

Marcel cleaning St Vincent in 2010 !

Marcel cleaning St Vincent in 2010 !

And Vincent D in 1998, that's what exercise does for you !

And Vincent D in 1998, that’s what exercise does for you !

another cassecroute picture !

Another cassecroute picture….

Dancer's crew off to pick Clos du Tête in Chassagne

Dancer’s crew off to pick Clos du Tête in Chassagne.

Caroline+Dominique at the press

Caroline+Dominique at the press.

and tasting the juice !

and tasting the juice !

Vincent comtemplates a small harvest....

Vincent stoically comtemplates a small harvest….

washing the buckets

Washing the buckets,

and the cuverie

and the cuverie.

Celar samples at Dancer

Cellar samples at Dancer.

Dominique demonstrates his barrel lifting technique

Dominique demonstrates his barrel lifting technique.



After a long day I am off to be fed at Table de Gregoire, aka Greg Love. Now resident, well he was then, at Domaine Jessiaume in Santenay, we are sharing a home cooked meal tonight.
I arrived bottleless (coals to Newcastle ?) except for two jars of honey from Serge, my beekeeper friend in Ladoix. I promptly forgot to give them to Greg !

The gang at Jessiaume will be working late tonight

The gang at Jessiaume will be working late tonight.

Greg takes me for an after dinner tour of Santenay. 9pm and the streets are deserted....

Greg takes me for an after dinner tour of Santenay. 9pm and the streets are deserted….

Having done his harvest stint Greg departed later that week and is now sampling the delights of Nepal !

So to Thursday, a return visit to Chandon de Briailles and some free time to mop up other picture requests.
A horse ploughing pic, just for me ! A lovely morning with Prosper the Percheron and François the vineyard manager at Chandon de Briailles overlooking the outskirts of Savigny.

Prosper takes break. Somewhere in the background is Corton

Prosper takes break. Somewhere in the background is Corton.

Where DRC are harvesting their Bressandes in typically neat and organised fashion.

Where DRC are harvesting their Bressandes in typically neat and organised fashion.

While along the road the Hospices de Beaune are gathering their's

While along the road the Hospices de Beaune are gathering their’s.

Meanwhile at Vosne-Romanée the vineyards  belong to walkers

Meanwhile at Vosne-Romanée the vineyards belong to walkers.

Clos de Vougeot from over the wall.

Clos de Vougeot from over the wall.

Question, which vineyard has its own postbox..?

Question, which vineyard has its own postbox..?

A name to watch I'm told.

A name to watch in Gevrey, I’m told.

The chinese owned château at Gevrey has its vineyards worked by Eric Rousseau so the monk should look happier !

The chinese owned château at Gevrey has it’s vineyards worked by Eric Rousseau so the monk need not look so petrified !

Went exploring around Marsannay. I think this is Les Grasses Têtes vineyard with Marsannay village behind.

Went exploring around Marsannay. I think this is Les Grasses Têtes vineyard with Marsannay village behind.

Jean-Marie and father Jean-Claude Fourrier in Gevrey. Great fun, great wine !

Jean-Marie and father Jean-Claude Fourrier in Gevrey. Great fun, great wine !

A social call on Pierre Cornu at Ladoix, then cousin Manu and wife Edith arrived. Still smiling after bevy losses to the frost. Not much Aligoté left where they are standing for example.

A social call on Pierre Cornu at Ladoix, then cousin Manu and wife Edith arrived. Still smiling after heavy losses to the frost. Not much Aligoté left where they are standing for example.

My first visit of a Burgundian quarry above Corgoloin. An impressive view of what lies beneath the vines elsewhere

My first visit of a Burgundian quarry above Corgoloin. An impressive view of what lies beneath the vines elsewhere.

Friday. Another promising dawn followed me through the Côte de Nuit as far as Vosne-Romanée, where I had two appointments on my way to my lunchtime train at Dijon. At Nuit I turned up to the left towards the cemetery and followed the vineyard roads to Vosne. Here Romanée Conti are in Richebourg and I spot my friend Didier Dubois who followed his work for Merode in Ladoix-Serrigny when their Grand Crus of Bressandes, Clos du Roi and Renardes were leased to Romanée Conti. He occasionally emails me charming aquarelles he has made from my pictures in the Corton book like the one below

Instead of chasing the picking that is already some way up the slope I waited by the trailer and watched the unloading with Vosne in the background in beautiful soft morning light. Timeless.

loading Richebourg

Unloading Richebourg.

The guardian of Richebourg !

The guardian of Richebourg !

The grapes are safe with him around !

The grapes are safe with him around !

If you wait, the grapes will come to you...

If you wait, the grapes will come to you…

First appointment: shoot Etienne Grivot in Richebourg

First appointment: shoot Etienne Grivot in Richebourg,

Second appointment get some stock portraits of Charles Lachaux at Domaine Robert Arnoux. Looks as if he's ready to go !

second appointment: get some stock portraits of Charles Lachaux at Domaine Robert Arnoux. Looks as if he’s ready to go !

After Vosne I called at the shop in Château du Clos de Vougeot as the Chevaliers de Tastevin have promised to stock the Corton book. Its excellent news and I’m quietly proud to be on the shelf alongside some great books.

But quite yet though, they only arrived this morning !

But not quite yet though, they only arrived this morning !

As I carried on through Morey St Denis I encountered Christophe Perrot-Minot and his Landrover and stopped to see how things are. He sadly counted off on his hand the appellations he had lost to the frost. I’m leaving Burgundy after very positive week but reminded it has been a very tough year for some.

Christophe and his Landrover.

Christophe and his Landrover.

One night in Beaune

I’m not a habitual visitor to wine bars in Beaune but a job to visit and shoot five was too good to turn down. Down from London one day and back the next seems a bit busy but thanks to cooperative and hospitable patrons everything was successful and fun, and delicious. And these five are just a few of what you can find. The article, by Jane Sigal, was published in the October issue of Wine & spirits magazine in the U.S.
I arrived at Maison du Colombier early and stayed most of the evening, with a visit to La Lune just down the street that was 40% of the job done. An early start at Cave Madeleine where I have been going for years was followed by a trip to Dilettante and then Table du Square before returning to Madeleine to shoot customers and food before catching the 4 ish TGV well and deliciously fed. As I said in my Cabotte post, I am not a restaurant reviewer, more the everyday customer so all I’ll say is none of these places will disappoint. Depending on your taste you will feel you have to return to some and see others next time, but these are all places that help give Beaune such varied evening and lunchtime options with good choices and value. Just get there early or reserve if you can and make the most of being in Burgundy !

Beaune at dusk, the work begins.

Beaune at dusk, the work begins.

Roland, patron at Maison du Colombier realises I adore avocado.

Roland, patron at Maison du Colombier realises I adore avocado.

Melon and ham

Melon and ham

Just the place to run into the local winemaking talent !

Just the place to run into the local winemaking talent !

La Lune.

La Lune.

"Lolo" boss at Dilettante

“Lolo” boss at Dilettante

tomato and mozzarella with an Hautes Côtes de Beaune.

tomato and mozzarella with an Hautes Côtes de Beaune.

The view from Dilettante....

The view from Dilettante….

Martial at Cave Madeleine

Martial at Cave Madeleine

Tomato soup and sourdough bread

Tomato soup and sourdough bread