Ξ July 2nd, 2009 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Book Reviews, Wine News |
Adventures in Burgundy by photographer Lincoln Russell came to my attention in a rather unusual way. I made a request of Clive Coates, the august subject of my most recent interview, for pictures illustrating, among other things, the grounds of the Ten Year On Tastings, the Brouilland farmhouse owned by Becky Wasserman-Hone and her husband Russell Hone. Mr. Coates suggested I write Lincoln Russell whose fine book includes just such photos. Indeed, it does, and a great deal more I was to discover when Mr. Russell graciously sent me an inscribed copy of his book.
Photography books, especially of wine country, can be exercises in the familiar, the already known. Very often they are compilations of visual clichés. But Mr. Russell’s book is of another kind entirely. His is an effort that tells a story, deepens our understanding of things we’ve merely heard and not seen. Let’s take his photo of Sebastien Denis and his horse Mickey, for example. Simple. It’s of a man, a colorful local, plowing a field. Not quite. Burgundy has become a hot spot for the use of biodynamic methods, hence the workhorse, an essential component of that viticulture. And Mr. Denis has been working the biodynamic vineyard of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) for a number of years.
Or take this photo of the Hill of Corton from the vantage point of the commune Aloxe-Corton near Beaune. The intersecting of clos and subtle changes in the orientation of the vines, the slight changes in shade of the exposed soil surfaces, redder at the lower elevation, all are important details for the appreciation of this extraordinary growing area. Indeed, the book’s forward is written by Aubert De Villaine, DRC’s co-director. According to a recent brief in the Wine Spectator, the DRC
” has signed a lease with Domaine Prince Florent de Mérode for 6 acres of vineyards on the hillside of Corton for three grand cru red wines.”.
And among my favorite images is that of a wall, the run of a clos, simply titled Pommard. I have often wondered after the method of construction of these stone walls and how they weather. I was surprised to see how tight the fit of each stone. And the angle of the image helps reveal erosion, the crumbling of the top of the wall and its ad hoc repair.
Included among the book’s more than 150 images are numerous informal portraits of major figures of the region, of winemakers and workers. Many are of the caves, the work at local tonnelleries, the changing seasons in the vineyards, bud break, and superb pics of numerous domaines at dusk, in winter, shrouded in fog. And, of course, photos of Clive Coates’ Ten Year On Tasting from 2006, of the interior of the farmhouse and of the magnificent grounds with children playing on the expansive lawn.
One pic playfully hints at Mr. Russell’s participation. It is of a nearly a dozen pair of muddy boots and shoes aligned before an open door, the threshold to the interior of which is mud-free. And off to the left is the only pair of clean shoes remaining, a pair of black loafers; the photographer’s? All other folks must have put on their fresh shoes and entered. Mr. Russell must have been the last one in.
And that is the overall impression of his work in this wonderful book. He is the last one in. He effortlessly floats about the people and landscapes he clearly loves, patiently waiting for rare moments to reveal themselves to him, and so to us.
Lincoln Russell has one stop left on his book tour, the Tanglewood Wine and Food Classic, August 6th through the 8th, 2009. He will be signing at this event. A copy of his book may be purchased through his very well-designed website. I strongly encourage the reader to secure a copy.
Special thanks to Mr. Russell for his permission to reproduce photos for this review.