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Burgundy’s stars seen in new light

In advance of an upcoming photographic exhibition of the world’s greatest winemakers, db has compiled a preview of the portraits from Burgundy.

Lalou Bize-Leroy; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

The pictures have all been taken by Colin Hampden-White and form part of the Greatest Winemakers series, following the photographer’s success with a show comprising 20 pictures of Bordeaux’s top vintners in December 2010.

Over the following pages are 10 portraits of the most revered personalities in Burgundy, which will feature in April at the Rebecca Hossack gallery in London.

A further further 11 pictures of top characters from Champagne will also be exhibited at the gallery, and we will be bringing readers a preview when Colin has completed the full collection.

As previously reported by db, Colin, who is a wine enthusiast and close friends with Henry Matson of Farr Vintners, selected the personalites having questionned merchants, wine writers and friends in London.

Click here to see the first portrait and scroll through to view each of the 10 “Greatest Winemakers” from Burgundy, complete with comments from Colin on what he is trying to convey with each image.

1. Anne Claude Leflaive, Domaine Leflaive

Anne Claude Leflaive; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Pictured in front of an arched rack holding pipes for pumping, Anne Claude Leflaive has been positioned by Colin as though she is wearing a crown of winemaking equipment.

“I wanted to represent the idea she is the queen of white Burgundy,” he explained.

The two tanks either side of Anne Claude are also significant, with the four marked on the left hand vat representing the domaine’s four grand crus: Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet.

The number five, which is just visible on the right hand vat, reflects Leflaive’s five premiers crus: Puligny-Montrachet’s Les Pucelles, Folatières, Les Combettes and Le Clavoillon, as well as Meursault’s Sous le Dos d’Ane.

2. Aubert de Villaine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

Aubert de Villaine; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Colin has positioned Aubert behind the terroir of Burgundy, represented by a rock from his vineyard, but in front of his estate, signified by the wall surrounding the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which forms the backdrop.

Explaining the composition, Colin said, “I wanted to show the idea that Aubert strongly believes he is not a superstar winemaker but a custodian of the vineyard, and so he is behind the terroir, rather than in front of it.”

3. Cristophe Roumier, Domaine Georges Roumier

Cristophe Roumier; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Cristophe is pictured standing outside his winery in Chambolle Musigny and just in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

According to Colin, the statue was found in the gardens of the property, which was once owned by a sculptor, and has since been moved to outside the winery.

Colin explained that he included the statue to represent the idea that Cristophe Roumier is there to protect the domaine, “like a guardian angel”.

Although not intentional, Cristophe’s shirt matches the autumn colours of the Boston ivy behind.

4. Dominique Lafon, Domaine des Comtes Lafon

Dominique Lafon; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

The derelict glasshouse which surrounds Dominique Lafon was built by his grandfather, according to Colin.

Captured within the rusting structure and clasping its frame, the image is designed to stress Dominique’s emotional connection to his ancestors at the domaine, famous for its vineyards in Meursault and Volnay.

“Although the glasshouse is useless, Dominique doesn’t want to pull it down,” explained Colin, adding, “It’s a symbol of the past”.

5. Eric Rousseau, Domaine Armand Rousseau

Eric Rousseau; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Deep within his cellar in Gevry-Chambertin, Eric Rousseau is photographed with a single light bulb above his head to represent the flashes of inspiration he experiences when surrounded by his wines.

“This is playing on the light bulb moment because Eric has all his bright ideas when standing in his cellar,” he said.

The image benefits from the faint appearance of rays of light from the bulb, although Colin admitted this was a lucky accident.

“There is a star burst coming out of the bulb, which was a fluke: I took a picture and when I blew it up there was this lovely effect.”

6. Francois Millet, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé

Francois Millet; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

The winemaker at this revered Chambolle-Musigny estate is pictured without any distractions but the dark image includes two old wooden vats in the background.

Explaining the paired down nature of this picture, Colin said, “Francois is one of these winemakers who just doesn’t get this idea of being a superstar at all, but is quiet and very technical, very precise.”

Continuing, Colin said, “I just wanted to concentrate on his character, rather than be too clever with this… he is wearing a fleece that has San Francisco on it, but I don’t know if there is any link.”

Interestingly, Francois did spend some of his childhood in Alberta, Canada, but not California.

7. Lalou Bize-Leroy, Domaine Leroy

Lalou Bize-Leroy; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

This striking and powerful picture has been arranged to stress Lalou’s purposeful yet also gentle nature according to Colin.

“She is quite tough, yet also soft, and took us on an hour long tasting of all her grands crus afterwards.”

In particular, he wanted to highlight her hands, which he described as “gentle and strong,” due to the “hard work that has encompassed her life”.

Getting this image was complicated however. “The vats are slightly glossy and I kept getting a reflection,” he recalled. “My friend who was doing the lighting suddenly hit on this one point, which also brought out her eyes,” he added.

As for the number 24 on the tank behind, this number was chosen because it is the number of years Lalou has been at the helm of the domaine’s current headquarters – it was in 1988 that Lalou bought Domaine Charles Nöellat in Vosne Romanée and renamed it Domaine Leroy.

8. Laurent Ponsot, Domaine Ponsot

Laurent Ponsot; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Laurent Ponsot is pictured in his cellar, which is hewn into the bedrock of his vineyards in Morey St. Denis.

“Effectively he is standing in front of his terroir,” explained Colin, “and when you enlarge the image you can see a bit of a vine’s root coming out of the rock.”

Colin also arranged the lighting so Laurent would cast a shadow on the rock, as though, “his shadow is looking back at the terroir.”

Although Laurent is renowned for his interest in technology, and previous pictures have shown him clutching a smartphone, Colin wanted to focus on the domaine’s rocks and soil.

“Iphones will come and go but the terroir is the bit that’s going to stay.”

9. Pierre Henry Gagey, Maison Louis Jadot

Pierre Henry Gagey; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

Standing on the balcony at Louis Jadot’s headquarters in Beaune, Pierre Henri Gagey is photographed in front of the recently renovated Couvent des Jacobins.

Colin wanted to include the roof of the convent, which he described as like an “upturned boat”, because it was built in 1477 and is the only remaining roof of its kind in Burgundy, apart from a similar one at the famous Hospices de Beaune, otherwise known as the Hôtel-Dieu.

The convent was historically owned by the Gagey family according to Colin, and was sold, but then bought back by Pierre Henry’s grandmother.

It is a coincidence that the colour scheme of the interior complements Pierre Henri’s jumper and jacket combination.

10. Raphaël Coche-Dury, Domaine Coche-Dury

Raphaël Coche-Dury; Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White

This pleasing image of Raphael reflects his casual nature and appearance according to Colin.

“When we arrived Raphael didn’t realise why we were there and he was wearing an old t-shirt, but then he disappeared and when he came back he was wearing a casual, but clean shirt, as well as carrying some glasses and a bottle; he was absolutely charming.”

Raphaël is pictured standing in front of his house which doubles as his office and reflected in the window is the winery, and on the right are some of his vines.

Importantly, the clouds in the sky “look like a star burst” which Colin said reflect the fact “a new star has been born” – Raphaël took over the winemaking from his father, Jean-François, in 2007.


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