A year on the Hill of Corton

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Young vignerons, old friends and a new book

My October visit was split between shooting for a specialist Burgundy importer from London, Jason Haynes, and a French magazine. Jason wants his website to include to include more than bottle shots and I am pleased that someone is trying to give their customers more background to Burgundy and its producers. I also had a couple of shoots for The World of Fine Wine so its been a busy week up and down the Côte D’Or.
There was plenty of sunshine and warmth most days after a couple of misty starts and in places the autumn colour was very pleasant. but I was here for people and people I got.
Monday afternoon:

Marie-Christine and Maerie-Andrée with a photo of their father Georges

Marie-Christine and Maerie-Andrée with a photo of their father Georges


Mugneret-Gibourg's Clos de Vougeot label

Mugneret-Gibourg’s Clos de Vougeot label


Tuesday:
Barrels on the move in Vosne-Romanée

Barrels on the move in Vosne-Romanée


Shedding some light at Domaine Leroy

Shedding some light at Domaine Leroy


Greg Love walked from London to Burgundy and looks good on it ! I found him in Vosne Romanée

Greg Love walked from London to Burgundy and looks good on it ! I found him in Vosne Romanée


Wedneday:
Thierry Gaudillère from Bourgogne Aujourd'hui at work for Corton's review.

Thierry Gaudillère from Bourgogne Aujourd’hui at work for Corton’s review.


Mist at Aloxe-Corton

Mist at Aloxe-Corton


Bertrand Bachelet at Dezize-Les-Maranges

Bertrand Bachelet at Dezize-Les-Maranges


La Fussière, a big name in Maranges

La Fussière, a big name in Maranges

Looking forward to tasting this rarity.

Looking forward to tasting this rarity.


Antoine, son of Francois now runs Domaine Jobard in Meursault

Antoine, son of Francois now runs Domaine Jobard in Meursault


Quite a few lieux-dits here in one picture, that's Corton Hill.

Quite a few lieux-dits here in one picture, that’s Corton Hill.


Thursday:
Armand Heitz, a new name in Chassagne-Montrachet

Armand Heitz, a new name in Chassagne-Montrachet


Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinère of Bonneau du Martray in his tasting room

Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinère of Bonneau du Martray in his tasting room


Benôit Riffault checks fermentation at Etienne Sauzet

Benôit Riffault checks fermentation at Etienne Sauzet


Pierre Duroche in Gevrey-Chambertin, a serious rock climber too.

Pierre Duroche in Gevrey-Chambertin, a serious rock climber too.


Stephane Magnien and his father line up their barrels in Morey St Denis

Stephane Magnien and his father line up their barrels in Morey St Denis

The naming of barrels chez Stephane Magnien

The naming of barrels chez Stephane Magnien


Friday:
Guillaume Tardy cleans his barrels in Vosne-Romanée

Guillaume Tardy cleans his barrels in Vosne-Romanée


The shavings. Beauty in small things.

The shavings. Beauty in small things.

November 5 is definitely the big day of publication for Une Année en Corton from Editions Glénat. I’ll be in Beaune at the Athenaeum book and wine shop in Place Carnot during the afternoon of Sunday 16th for three hours of signing duties! Apparently its also available at both Amazon.fr and Amazon.uk. Don’t be concerned if the book appears to have another author. François Perroy provided most of the 30 pages of text and often, it appears, writers are automatically regarded as the author, no matter the size of their contribution.
It seems photographer authors are quite a rarity…
Happily its my name on the book !
The text is all in French of course, but perhaps it will one day be available in English (or Japanese, or Chinese) Corton and Burgundy are well known all over the world as visitors to this blog have proved. As the French say, “On verra”….
I’ll be sure to let you know !

Remerciements/Thanks

It was on a sunny afternoon back in September 2002, as I drove through Puligny’s premier crus during the harvest, that I was slowed to a halt by a group of pickers milling about in the road. As I waited for the way to open up I was suddenly aware of Etienne de Montille approaching with a cameraman at his shoulder.
“Bonjour Jon, how are you ?” was probably what he said. My mind was already telling me to:
1. not look into the camera
and
2. not to say to too much, particularly in French! Heaven knows where this will end up.
In fact it ended up as 5-10 seconds of Mondovino!
Not because of anything I said but because, as I drove off,
Etienne turned to Jonathan Nossiter and said “Ca c’est le photographe du Wine Spectator….”

I am not, and never was, an employee of Wine Spec. I just contribute stock and occasional assignments. Proudly.
Who does not want to have there work seen by so many readers?
There is no fame attached among wine drinkers, I have received one letter in 25 years!
No, the benefit is the doors that it opens. Why would a busy vigneron give you an hour for some stock photography if he did not take your professionalism seriously?

I mention this just to say that the success of my time in Burgundy results from a lot of help along the way. It has not been possible to thank everyone on my Remerciements page in the book so I thought I’d mention a few people here for their contribution.

Erik Martin on a Sunday morning in Pommard

Erik Martin on a Sunday morning in Pommard


When you start out trying to find your way around Burgundy a visit to “Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne” in March of alternate years,is essential. And not just once, there is so much to take in.
I won’t give you the info here, just Google it.
It was during such a visit to Fuissé that I first saw ploughing with horses in Burgundy. What a great shot, I thought. Two years later, on the day after the next GJs I was shooting an early morning view of Pommard when a horse box drove past. I quickly followed and there followed a meeting with Erik Martin, a legend in horse ploughing who was one of the first of a now regularly seen band of ploughers with their horses. Erik moved on to Bordeaux for a while, then back to Burgundy and now I think is somewhere in Spain. Wherever he is, it will be lively. Such friendly contacts are really important when you start to shoot in a new area and he was very helpful.

Talking of horses, back in 2010 I was asked to spend 10 days shooting the harvest at Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac. A photographer friend told me I would go mad spending 10 days in the same place shooting the same thing. But he did not know about the harvest! There is always something different going on and over 10 days you build better working relationships with everyone. You have the opportunity to look at everything afresh after a few days. The Tesserons are not only great hosts, I was given complete freedom on how to approach the job.
I think the experience taught me to look more deeply at a smaller space and to take my time – I’m still not good at that! But I’m sure it benefited my work on Corton.

Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet-Canet

Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet-Canet


Tesseron wants all the vineyard work done by horses and is having equipment made especially for different jobs.

Tesseron wants all the vineyard work done by horses and is having equipment made especially for different jobs.

When you are not fortunate enough to have a room in a chateau, then where to sleep and eat are high priorites. On my first visits to Burgundy I regularly stayed at a friendly and comfortable chambre d’hôte in Chassagne-Montrachet and was quickly pointed in the direction of L’Auberge du Vieux Vigneron at Corpeau for my evening meal.
Le Chassagne restaurant next door to my B+B had recently opened but I did not have the budget to eat there every night.
At Corpeau, not being on the tourist route, Vieux Vigneron’s clientele was a mix of canny tourists in search of quality and value as well as local winemakers. So it was, one Sunday evening, around 9.30, as I paid my bill and finished my glass of M. Fagot’s Bourgogne Rouge, that five local winemakers arrived and, before sitting down at a nearby table, made a tour of the room shaking hands with friends. Pierre-Yves Colin was one of the group, the only one I had met before and he kindly came to say hello. Minutes later I was invited to join them for a glass. They had just returned from playing for, or supporting, Chassagne’s local football team at a match in Chagny.
We left there at midnight….
So finding John-Charles Fagot’s restaurant was something else that helped me feel less of a stranger. And I keep going back.

Jean-Charles with slightly embarrassed but happy guests from NYC

Jean-Charles with slightly embarrassed but happy guests from NYC

From Charlemagne to Romanée-Conti via the old N6

THURSDAY started with a visit to Claude Chevalier in Buisson, a little hamlet at the northern end of Ladoix and we were quickly off to see his pickers in Aloxe-Corton as the cloud gave way to the morning light that makes the east side of Corton Hill such a beautiful place.

Unstoppable Claude Chevalier at Aloxe

Unstoppable Claude Chevalier at Aloxe

The Chevalier triage team awaiting that Aloxe -Corton delivery

The Chevalier triage team awaiting that Aloxe -Corton delivery


I had a rendezvous with my friend Marie-Luce who was supervising the picking of her Charlemagne by the negoce who is purchasing. But en route I was brought to a halt just before the Latour cuverie by David Croix’s team enjoying their cassecroute and I felt obliged to join them!

Two pickers from Touraine extolled the virtues of the Loire and I was offered a tasting of delicious,aromatic Sancerre to accompany my bulging baguette.
I met up with Jean-Paul who I last saw swinging his pioche last December in thick fog and hoare frost not 100 metres away from where I was now enjoying the other end of the thermometer’s scale.

Jean-Paul enjoying the sun.

Jean-Paul enjoying the sun.

A Sancerre enjoyed in Corton!

A Sancerre enjoyed in Corton!

I don't know where the bottles came from but it was all good

I don’t know where the bottles came from but it was all good


Over the road the guys from Latour were taking their break too.

Over the road the guys from Latour were taking their break too.


Onwards and upwards to Charlemagne. Just near Les Chaumes, on the road to Pernand-Vergelesses from Aloxe-Corton, there is a pleasant picnic spot with drinking water, shade and a little parking. The pickers had already arrived but I managed to get a space and hiked up past the parcels of Bonneau du Martray and Jean-Francois Coche-Dury with a feeling I must be near to the original Charlemagne plot and found the work well underway. Memories of my last visit in July came back as I remembered Marie-Luce teaching my wife the work of that season.
sunshine in Charlemagne

sunshine in Charlemagne


Charlemagne'sChardonnay

Charlemagne’sChardonnay

When you get to the end of a row on a hot day...

When you get to the end of a row on a hot day…


But there's no rest for some.

But there’s no rest for some.

Keeping track of the crop

Keeping track of the crop


Next stop lunch and Marie-Luce is promising great value/quality. She was n’t wrong!
Welcome to the Pont Du Paris, another "bonne adresse" in Chagny

Welcome to the Pont Du Paris, another “bonne adresse” in Chagny

Find it on the N6 or whatever its called now

Find it on the N6 or whatever its called now

Not easy to miss!

Not easy to miss!


What are you doing on the 4th October ?

What are you doing on the 4th October ?

Madame takes care of dessert

Madame takes care of dessert

While Chef stays happily  in the kitchen

While Chef stays happily in the kitchen

Returning to the Hill I found a scene reminiscent of Charles O’Rear’s shot “Bliss” that used to be used as Microsoft’s screen saver.
"Bliss" Burgundy style

“Bliss” Burgundy style


Highlight of the afternoon, what was left of it, was a return to Meursault to visit Alix and Etienne de Montille
Alix and Etienne in the white wine cellar@ Meursault

Alix and Etienne in the white wine cellar@ Meursault


Alix discusses the dinner for her team

Alix discusses the dinner for her team

FRIDAY
Actually, for once the week’s work was done without a Friday morning sprint so all I had to do was organise a sensible schedule (one that allowed time for the unexpected!) and get to Dijon station in time for the 14.41 TGV to Paris.
It was a grey day and I called first at the Latour cuverie for a quick chat with Boris Champy and to see what was going on.

sampling at Latour 180 year old cuverie in Aloxe

sampling at Latour 180 year old cuverie in Aloxe


Then over to Cornu in Ladoix – triage again…
Triage and a dose of vertigo.

Triage and a dose of vertigo.


Time allowed a call at Gouges in Nuits and I tried without success to remember the route through the premier crus to their back door, but I’m not as clever as I think and I ended up paying my last 50c for half an hour’s parking and walking through the streets looking for a grassy side alley. During harvest, the front door often does not get paid much attention in most wineries.
Gregory and his father Pierre pleased with enough grapes for a barrel of Côte de Nuits white.

Gregory and his father Pierre pleased with enough grapes for a barrel of Côte de Nuits white.

As good luck would have it I saw some action in Romanée Conti as I entered Vosne so it had to be worth a quick visit.

The visitors are more visible than the pickers at Romanée Conti but none dare cross the wall !

The visitors are more visible than the pickers at Romanée Conti but none dare cross the wall !


Didier from Corton helps out in Vosne

Didier from Corton helps out in Vosne

The small baskets are important at Domaine de la Romanée Conti

The small baskets are important at Domaine de la Romanée Conti


So is careful handling of the grapes

So is careful handling of the grapes

Time to move on and as I got near Dijon I just had time for a quick visit to Eric Rousseau at Gevrey_Chambertin.

Rousseau had finished but there no time to share the celebrations unfortunately.

Rousseau had finished but there is no time to share the celebrations unfortunately.


Then it was a dash under a darkening sky to the TGV…
Looking forward to being back in October.

A little later when I got home…
I received the design for the cover of THE BOOK !

Seems OK, the only question is, is my name big enough :-)….?
Corton_CV1-150
Anyway there is now a publication date of 5 November so we’re nearly there !

Why was it not like this last year ?!

So shooting for the book is finished. But its harvest time again and I’m here shooting for other clients. Everyday seems to be a good day, with plenty of activity but appointments tend to get moved… I’m on the road around 7 a.m., just before dawn here to make the most of the morning light. I does not always work but here I’m never tempted to stay in bed !

Franck, the baker, with Gilles and Fred at Vival in Ladoix, the place for a coffee and the latest news

Franck, the baker, with Gilles and Fred at Vival in Ladoix, the place for a coffee and the latest news


SUNDAY was a glorious morning and after coffee in Ladoix and a lucky meeting with Mme Cornu which yielded an invitation to lunch with the harvesters, I headed off to visits in Puligny and Chassagne before coming back to check out the Côte de Nuits. I had several winemaker portraits to make and harvest is not the best time, but, if you working for a magazine they know, its just necessary to track them down…
Ballet in Champs-Gains

Ballet in Champs-Gains

Lining up in Musigny

Lining up in Musigny


Pascal Marchand is one of the dynamic breed which it can take good luck to locate, but this time not only was he only 10 minutes away from his Nuits base, but Murray Tawse his Canadian partner was there too. Both guys are very passionate about their business and easy to talk to.
Triage at Marchand-Tawse

Triage at Marchand-Tawse

A surprisingly successful end to a good day as we parted in Musigny.

MONDAY Vival at Ladoix, my usual breakfast coffee stop, was closed but I was off to Meursault so I headed for the Café/Tabac next to the church of St Nicolas in the centre. There have been some changes there this year, the fountain has been moved nearer to the Mairie and a lawn laid and trees planted. Plus a large metal fence….
I arrived to find that the car parking area outside the church that hosts the weekly market is now following the same process. This must be costing a bit !
And I have to say it is apparently not to everyone’s taste with its wall and wrought iron fence reaching up 3 metres…. Meursault is beginning to look like a tourist destination (if they can find pa parking place), not a working wine village. I guess we’ll learn to love it, but I can’t see the pickers being allowed to celebrate the end of their harvest by frolicking in the fountain.
In a break from work I call in to see Jacques and François Carillon at Puligny in their separate but neighbouring domaines.

Jacques Carillon in his cellar was in good spirits

Jacques Carillon in his cellar was in good spirits

Lunch with François Carillon and his cuverie team

Lunch with François Carillon and his cuverie team

Francois has the builders in for an expansion to his cellars but they are both thinking more about this year’s harvest and happy with quality, even if quantity is down again due to the storm in June. A less than promising August was followed by 2 good weeks of sun and a gentle north wind that has kept things healthy, even concentrated the juice.
Puligny has always cherished its tourists and provided an elegant atmosphere but I now see a couple of small art galleries too. I do wonder if the new “cabotte” bus shelter in Chassagne means they are following the trend…
Somehow I doubt it.
Another pickers lunch courtesy of chez François before getting back to work. That was all over by 4pm due to the necessity of meetings for my subject so on an increasingly hot afternoon my thoughts turned to the Grappe. Before I could get there I was stopped in my tracks by the Pavelot team unloading their beautiful baskets to attack a parcel of Corton beneath Pernand, an island of pinot amidst the Charlemagne.
Carrying 40k is hot work!

Carrying 40k is hot work!

I imagined these baskets were being used until they could no longer be maintained but I was told the domain has just bought 10 more from the Jura costing 100 euros each. Fully laden they weigh over 40 kilos! After chasing the porters up and down the slope I was even more ready for a beer.
But sadly La Grappe were sticking with there normal evening opening hour of 6pm so I paid a social call in Pernand before heading along the mud track through Charlemagne. Back on the tarmac I turned left at the cherry tree to take a look at what still might be happening above Aloxe and Corton. There below was Maurice Chapuis, easily recognised with his charabanc of a trailer for his pickers. I drove down to say hello just as they were finishing and whom should be doing triage but his brother Claude, the last man to write a book about Corton and who I very pleased to say has written the preface to “Une Anné en Corton” for us.
Claude(L) and Maurice Chapuis checking out the crop in Corton Clos du Roi

Claude(L) and Maurice Chapuis checking out the crop in Corton Clos du Roi


Maurice takes his pickers home.

Maurice takes his pickers home.


My next call, at the distillery in Ladoix was unsuccessful but as I headed back to Pernand with only a cold drink in mind I came across Serge the dedicated beekeeper who immediately invited me in for that beer!
There followed the sad story of his acacia flowering during a wet week in May which meant no honey as his bees would not come out. It seems one of his hives has mysteriously been vacated and his mortality rate is still steady at 20-25% a year, all bad news. No wonder he needed a bit of company. Still it was 7pm when I left, and a glorious evening so I did n’t take his concerns with me, this harvest is so much better than last year.

TUESDAY was another bright morning and after a coffee with Gilles and Fred at Vival,along with Franck the baker next door, I found Jean-Charles De La Morinère quietly smiling as their Charlemagne harvest started. He was constantly checking the rows to see that his pickers remembered his instructions on the first day of work, supervising the level of the grapes in each grey box and then helping to shift them to the trailer.

Jean-Charles de la Morinère likes what he sees in Charlemagne

Jean-Charles de la Morinère
likes what he sees in Charlemagne

Jean-Charles and Claude load the precious chardonnay

Jean-Charles and Claude load the precious chardonnay

All done with a smile that hid his great concentration on the job in hand. That was around 8 a.m. and as I saw that evening after the dinner with the pickers prepared by the 3 lady cuisine’s ( I called them Les Trois Gorieuses but they said they preferred LesTrois Graces !) that while we finished off our wine, Jean-Charles was still supervising in the cuverie, yet to eat.
The 3 Graces at the Bonneau du Martray kitchen door wait the pickers.

The 3 Graces at the Bonneau du Martray kitchen door wait the pickers.


Success with a great terroir requires such dedication all the year round.

The Pavelots were out again,this time in En Caradeux with one or two the porters enjoying an “Ice bucket challenge,

Cooling off on Caradaux

Cooling off on Caradaux

harvest style !
En Caradaux from Charlemagne

En Caradaux from Charlemagne

Pernand-Vergelesses seen from Caradaux

Pernand-Vergelesses seen from Caradaux

Great morning views of Pernand but sadly the Church roof is under repair for a while so I’m glad I already have that.
Off to lunch

Off to lunch

Lunch was enjoyed with some of the cuverie team from Latour in Aloxe before I set off for my afternoon in Vosne Romanée.
If you are unlucky at harvest time you might spend sometime avoiding the tractors and trailers, the vans and beaten up pickers’ Renaults as you circuit the village twice looking for a parking space. But its the same everywhere but usually the drivers (of the tractors and vans at least) are old hands who drive with patience, humour and courtesy. Perhaps its my hired Renault Kangoo that encourages them to think I am one of their own! Its the occasional peloton of cyclists, both the colourful lycra enthusiasts and the wobbling tourists that really cause me to curse; neither seeming to have a thought for what is going on around them, slicing through groups of pickers like saucisson.

Sadly a vineyard problem at my next visit meant my visit was postponed 24 hours, which turned well in the end so I was free to call in to see Louis-Michel Liger-Belair

Louis-Michel at the triage table

Louis-Michel at the triage table

to see and hear how it was all going before calling in to see Pierre Vincent at Domaine de la Vougeraie at Premeaux-Prissey.
Its biodynamic here and they prepare their treatments in a wonderfully atmospheric barn.
Vougeraie's drying barn

Vougeraie’s drying barn

Filling the press at Vougeraie

Filling the press at Vougeraie

Washing the press.

Washing the press.

WEDNESDAY dawned a a little grey but I was due to do some work for a producer in Buisson and a blanket of cloud evens out the shadows in the vineyard making the job easier.

Looking good in Ladoix-Serrigny

Looking good in Ladoix-Serrigny

Porter at Domaine Ravaut

Porter at Domaine Ravaut

Pierre Ravaut at work in Ladoix's Bois Roussot

Pierre Ravaut at work in Ladoix’s Bois Roussot

More Pinot Noir arriving.

More Pinot Noir arriving.

Time for cassecroute

Time for cassecroute

After starting at 7.30, by 9.30 you are ready for a break.

After starting at 7.30, by 9.30 you are ready for a break.


The afternoon is again very warm with better light and I picnic late watching the harvest in La Tâche from up on the road above.
Harvest in Vosne-Romanée's La Tâche.

Harvest in Vosne-Romanée’s La Tâche.

then spend it around Vosne before chasing off to see if three “micro-negociants” can give me a few minutes in the middle of there harvest for a few urgently requested pictures.
Jeremy Seysses, after a quick change of shirt!

Jeremy Seysses, after a quick change of shirt!

Mounir Saouma at Lucien Lemoine - the perfect host ! Its a welcome home brewed beer this time.

Mounir Saouma at Lucien Lemoine – the perfect host !
Its a welcome home brewed beer this time.

Nicolas Potel - always on the move, always smiling.

Nicolas Potel – always on the move, always smiling.

.
That’s it, a typically fluid day in Burgundy.

Back for the harvest

I arrived in Burgundy from Champagne just after lunch today to find some harvest was already started on the Hill and in glorious weather, such a difference from the year before. I decided to drive around briefly but was quickly drawn into the old routine. On a visit to my friend Gareth at the Domaine Denis triage table in Pernand I found him happy with what passed in front of him.

Gareth shows how the Welsh do it...

Gareth shows how the Welsh do it…

He will be working, along with most others doing triage, until maybe 7 pm so I left him for a thirst quenching beer down at La Grappe de Pernand with Christian and Elizabeth, the bar owners.

Christian and Elizabeth prepared for the 6pm rush.

Christian and Elizabeth prepared for the 6pm rush.

Freshly kitted out with new tables and benches, they were ready for the imminent invasion of local “vendangeurs”.
I then took the dried mud track back through Charlemagne to find Domaine Dublère’s crew just finishing off their day.

Gathering in Blair Pethell's Corton Charlemagne

Gathering in Blair Pethell’s Corton Charlemagne

Lance leads the way !

Lance leads the way !

Just enough room ?

Just enough room ?

"Blair knows how to pick more than grape" said a porter !

“Blair knows how to pick more than grapes” said a porter !

I must be getting old but the “vendangeuses” are looking much younger these days! I carried on down to Aloxe-Corton and spotted pickers in Les Chaumes et Le Voi Rouge (named for its red stony soil). Here was Vincent Rapet very happy with the balance of his Pinot Noir in front of wonderful view of Corton Hill.

Even Vincent Rapet looks pleased.

Even Vincent Rapet looks pleased.

Corton Hillis quite a backdrop.

Corton Hill is quite a backdrop.

What a pity the design is finished, approved and the book goes to the printer in Milan on Monday 15th!

Embarrassingly I have felt the need to suggest my name on the cover is in slightly larger type than those of François Perroy who provided 20 of the 28 pages of text and Claude Chapuis who kindly contributed the preface.
It seems that certain book selling websites do not believe photographers can be authors. On two sites François is named exclusively as responsible. Not what I was hoping for after over three years of planning and shooting!
Anyway its all over bar the noise we must make around publication date (5 November) and I can now think of other things… like where to shoot next!

Château Corton André

Just heard Château Corton André, that Burgundy icon, has been bought by Bejot of Meursault.

Château Corton André - what will become of this Burgundy icon and its wines...

Château Corton André – what will become of this Burgundy icon and its wines…


See here:
http://www.bienpublic.com/edition-cote-de-beaune/2014/08/01/bejot-vins-terroirs-achete-le-chateau-corton-andre
Of course its holiday time and difficult to find news, but one suggestion I read was that Bejot, having bought Maison Pierre André and Reine Pedauque will sell off the famously tiled château and some vineyards to the Frey family of Switzerland who already successfully run Château La Lagune in the Medoc and Paul Jaboulet in the Rhône.
Personally I just hope it means the Reine Pedauque winery in Aloxe-Corton will be improved in some way. That’ll be some job.
Bill Nanson kindly forwarded me this:
http://www.bejot.com/en/bejot-vins-terroirs-acquiert-corton-andre/

I guess we just have to wait and see……

Returning to the Hill

Theoretically the job is done and my deadline was the end of June…
So, when I had a Burgundy assignment to complete by the end July, I went back to inspect the hail damage but try to keep out of the way of those busy vignerons who I knew had suffered yet again. Their trials are really beyond the understanding of anyone who does not tend vines and there was nothing I could say to them. We must not forget how much other regions of France have suffered or that the damage often lasts for more than one vintage. Let’s hope the French government shows the necessary support.

In Burgundy its the next few weeks that will dictate the size of what can be harvested and as usual the weather in July and August is paramount. However while new leaves have time to grow and ripen what is left, they can only work on those berries that survived.

The remains of a bunch of pinot noir on Corton Hill

The remains of a bunch of pinot noir on Corton Hill

The assignment gave me the time to shoot some needed stock at the Burgundia testing lab in Beaune, to visit winemakers I had not seen for a while and even photograph one or two.

The modern side of winemaking seen at Burgundia in Beaune

The modern side of winemaking seen at Burgundia in Beaune


Wine under the microscope ! (I'm waiting for a slightly more technical caption from Burgundia)

Wine under the microscope ! (I’m waiting for a slightly more technical caption from Burgundia)


Pierre-Yves Colin makes his point during a tasting

Pierre-Yves Colin makes his point during a tasting


Jean-Marc Roulot provides you with somewhere to write your tasting notes

Jean-Marc Roulot provides you with somewhere to write your tasting notes

He seems to find them comfortable too

He seems to find them comfortable too

At Domaine Roulot they're into eau-de-vie and liqueurs too

At Domaine Roulot they’re also getting into eau-de-vie and liqueurs


But they're making big bottles of wine- Jeraboams here.

But they’re still making big bottles of wine-Jeraboams here.

While the shooting is finished and captions are being checked its difficult to put this book down and stop looking for ways to improve it. We’re all doing it, the editor and I listen to any comments from our growers’ committee whose job it was to make sure I got things right.
I am well aware this book is my interpretation of the Hill and what contributes to it, but I’m also aware my talents for book design are untested and the locals have much to teach me about the Hill. Most interesting of all is the “tweaking” of an Englishman’s view for the French language
market.
Hopefully we will be able to publish in the US and Asia and no doubt what does not work for the French market will interest other parts of the world who know France less well.
So after a little email conversation with the editor during the week I managed to set up one last photo courtesy of Louis Latour’s tractor drivers. You have to marvel at the skill required to drive a tractor through those rows without damaging valuable vines. Just another job for the vigneron whose work already demands so many talents.
I just hope the book will interest people enough to encourage them to visit vineyards and take the time to understand some of what goes on.

A bunch of Louis Latour's finest !

A bunch of Louis Latour’s finest !

Are captions important ?

I was very pleased last month to be asked by Decanter magazine for photographs of Grand Cru white wine vineyards for their “Joy of Terroir” feature. Obviously I sent pictures from the Hill and they seem to have been interested in both these:ploughingEnCharlemagne@P-V_CRW4526@72

Early morning in Le Corton

Early morning in Le Corton


Unfortunately, through the wonders of, and the speed of, modern technology, the right picture got the wrong caption. Or vice versa, depending on your taste. Perhaps there will be room for a correction in the next issue, perhaps not.
These things happen ” in the best regulated homes” as my parents used to say.
Still I’m happy that the Hill got a DPS in Decanter!
In the end they used the the ploughing shot with Pernand in the background.

My June visit was very brief. The weather was good part from one damp day and everyone seemed very satisfied with this year’s flowering. Talk is of harvest starting around mid September. But as they say , “its August who decides.”
My work on the Hill finished with a couple of portraits of growers who had subscribed to the book, thereby meriting a tiny “mugshot” at the back of the book. I had a busy time with assignments in Vosne-Romanée, Puligny and Chassagne, all of which you may see before the end of the year, depending on what you read.
Here are a few images from that short stay.
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Evening light in Aloxe-Corton on a “precocious” vine.

Clos Du Roi june_CRT9259 @72
More rapid growth in Clos du Roi

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Aloxe’s Pinot Noir flowering

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Beehives and the Cabotte of Bonneau du Martray in Le Charlemagne

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The redesign of the cente of Meursault nears completion

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Meuneveaux, pere et fils, the last shot is done.

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Jean-Paul of St Aubin, the place to go with a puncture!

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A lesson in Burgundian genealogy in Chassagne-Montrachet!

In november a French text version of The Book will be out! Less than 5 months and counting… Here’s hoping one in English follows before too long.
Meanwhile, I shall be back in July but not sadly for the Balade Gourmande in Ladoix, I hope the weather stays kind for them this weekend.

Bernhard Huber

From now on I’ll try to keep you up to date with news of the book (its title for one thing!) and any other wine/Burgundy news that might worth passing on.

Julian, Barbara and Bernard Huber of Baden in Southern Germany

Julian, Barbara and Bernard Huber of Baden in Southern Germany


Its very sad to start by saying that a very “Burgundian” winemaker from Baden in Southern Germany who excelled with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Bernhard Huber, died yesterday after a battle with cancer.
I met him three years ago while shooting for “The Finest Wines of Germany” by Stephan Reinhardt, one of the World of Fine Wine’s “Finest Wines of…” series, then later at a wine fare in Berlin. He was a quiet, friendly and very modest man with a glowing, open smile who was a very respected winemaker who adored Burgundy and will be known to probably many of the winemakers on the Côte where he visited regularly.
He is survived by his energetic and hardworking wife and son Barbara and Julian who will, no doubt carry on his work.
On my travels I am fortunate to meet so many lovely people in the wine world who are a privilege to spend time with, and always have plans to go back. I really must do it !

May – and I am over the Hill !

Approaching Corton Hill by Aloxe-Corton around 07.15

Approaching Corton Hill by Aloxe-Corton around 07.15

Looking towards Pernand-Vergelesses from above Les Pougets

Looking towards Pernand-Vergelesses from above Les Pougets

After an anti-clockwise route we arrive at Pernand

After an anti-clockwise route we arrive at Pernand

Looking down over Les Bressandes and Les Renardes after a circuit of the Hill

Looking down over Les Bressandes and Les Renardes after a circuit of the Hill

A view of Buisson in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny

A view of Buisson in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny

The quarry at the northern end of the Hill has bitten into Les Grechons !

The quarry at the northern end of the Hill has bitten into Les Grechons !


Although I started this blog last September, by then I had been photographing for this book for five months. Finalising a deal with a publisher was close but still three months away.
I had been certain everything would work so I began work last April in order to meet a proposed publication date of November 2014. It was only with a request from World of Fine Wine magazine for a four-part series of articles that I had to take the plunge of beginning the blog too. From then on, failure to complete with a publisher would have left me rather embarrassed and with not much to write about!
Still, all is well, Glénat will publish in five months time but it is all coming together at the last minute.
My deadline was extended until the end of June in order to make a few additions and we are now in the process of agreeing picture selection. It is a time for seeing other people’s point of view, listening to wiser heads, but above all sticking to your own vision.
However,its amazing to me that what seems like the best possible selection and layout on Friday evening looks so wrong on Monday.The removal or addition of one picture affects everything. The “marriage” of two pictures on a double page spread does not always need an obvious visual link but can create a statement of its own.
Deadlines are deadlines and decisions must be made, but the extension has allowed me to profit from the offer of a helicopter ride around the Hill and also catch up with very busy winemakers I need portraits of.
Shooting from a helicopter with no door between you and eternity is great when you have the light you want in the right direction and if its not too windy. Well I had to settle for two out of three but hope one or more of the end results will be make it into the book.
With me in the passenger seat on the left means an anti-clockwise circuit of the Hill. In the wind it was too difficult to hover and the views rushed past the camera.
It was all over too soon, just when I was getting used to it!
Thank you to my friendly vigneron in need of flying hours!
Judging when to fly is difficult, in a few weeks time the vines will be rampant, in need of secateurs and the lines of vines not so distinct, but there will be more growth and colour. In spring at least you have a good view of the soil and different parcels.I am not enamoured of the vines in the summer, they look rather dark. Autumn could be fabulous – I must start saving for that now…

Back on “terra firma” the Hill has enjoyed such a warm dry spell that growers have, unlike last spring, been looking forward to some rain and praying the frost would stay away. Fingers are crossed for a dry and sunny period for flowering some time soon.
Meanwhile I continue to work for magazine clients whose work has helped finance my commitment to the book.
After June, lets see what there is to report on the book’s progress, but I am cannot breech the confidentiality of a clients’s assignments by reporting on my work for them. Readers of wine magazines can just keep an eye on the photo credits to see what I have been doing.
Here are a few photos from May.

A comparison of  with and without herbicide...

A comparison of with and without herbicide from elsewhere on the Côte de Beaune…


While I stand in the same place for an hour and a half watching the Hill, the view to my left towards Savigny-Les-Beaune looks dramatic

While I stand in the same place for an hour and a half watching the Hill, the view to my left towards Savigny-Les-Beaune looks dramatic