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!
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.
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
Sorry for the watermarks but they are meant to discourage unauthorised use !
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.
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.
So off to spend a couple of days with Valais Mundi in Sion.
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.
The first morning was early and wonderful. Stunning scenery and beautiful light do wonders for vineyards in 50 shades of brown.
Jean-Blaise, the vineyard manager was my chauffeur and location finder.
After lunch and being memorably introduced to Petite Arvine, it was time meet up with Olivier and finish the shoot in the vineyards.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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!
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.
And so to Caliterra for some more shots of Mai and another stunning location.
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.
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.
Stephen Brook was one of the first in.
The Cabotte Restaurant in London organised a blind tasting of wines from Nuit St Georges later in December.
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.
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.
Now I’m looking forward to seeing the vineyards again.
Next stop Chile !