26 Oct 2013

Photographing a Vintage Wine in it's Natural Environment!

So this evening I photographed a 1990 Chateau Grangeneuve, which is a smooth red wine from Bordeaux and it was paired with tasty spiced and grilled pork chops with a dollop of delicious potato salad! The best part about photographing wine and food is consuming it afterward. It was delicious!

I used two speedlights to create the atmosphere I was after, a gridded sb600 from camera left at 1/64 power and a snooted sb700 from camera right set to 1/32 output. This combined to provide a nice intimate scene full of warm nourishing flavours and mouth watering grilled aromas. The camera was at 1/200s, f3.2, ISO 200, slightly warm flash white balance and RAW, always RAW. Speedlights were triggered via a cheap but reliable Phottix Strato wireless trigger system.

Mmm, another glass of wine anyone?


  1. First things first, my friend: this is a wonderfully composed photograph, way superior than the two I posted only to prove that we really had those two wines, nothing more! 9/10, which is way higher than my usual score for my own botched images.

    Now, the cork: you almost goofed… :-) Oh yes, you almost broke it, ha ha ha... In all fairness, old corks often present quite a challenge.

    Now, on the really bad side of things: Château Grangeneuve is an inconsistent producer, so much so that it was not even retained. On the bright side of things,l I’ve tasted several Montagne Saint-Émilion wines. None was of the class of the best Saint-Émilion Grands Crus, but this is all subjective, because they were truly exceptional.

    So yes, if you’ve got a second bottle, I would make a detour on my next trip to Europe in order to taste it with you! :-)

    You will notice another thing: while it is true that Saint-Émilion and Montagne Saint-Émilion are subregions of Bordeaux, the French and the people from French descent (us...) will call them Saint-Émilion or Montagne Saint-Émilion wines. The same is true for, say, Margaux, Pomerol, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits... ad nauseam!

    There is a bit of snobbism here, but those are truly different wines. After all, who would call a Gigondas anything else than a Gigondas, I ask you? OK, you’ve started me on wines... this is unfinished business as you obviously love good food and wine...


    1. It may have been an inconsistent wine, but this particular bottle was at the top end of that scale! :-)

      I can see you really know your wines Roger! I am just starting on the European wines having grown up in South Africa and drinking classics like the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon of which the late seventies and early eighties produced some of the best wine I ever tasted from Nederburg.

      I must say that so far I have not been disappointed by French wines, and I have even had a few winners from Italy, Spain and Portugal!

      As for the cork... well, you should have seen the other side of that cork, it was much worse, but by a bit of gentle persuasion I eased it out in one piece!

      I would be honoured to have you around for a glass or two of the good stuff Roger so if you ever find yourself in Southern Sweden you are most welcome to dinner! Life is full of wonderful experiences, but I think good company together with tasty food and a fine wine certainly has to sit near top of those experiences!

      À la prochaine!
      (I hope that translation is right...)

    2. Ha ha ha... I knew you would answer that comment!

      1. When I said the producer was not retained, I simply forgot to complete the sentence, and that was: retained by Bettane and Desseauve in their phenomenal yearly book on the best French wines (1000 pages, 50 000 wines tasted, 30 000 wines mentioned and rated in the guide).

      BTW, this guide is a real must and not expensive, 25 € for the 2014 edition. And there is a fantastic website (key given inside the cover) covering more than 50 000 French wines.

      2. I am glad to hear that you had a good formation as a chef (and a chef I am certainly not!) and know quite a bit about wine. A truly honest man… :-)

      3. I am always surprised by this habit of calling a wine by the vine (cépage) used, like the Americans do for example. This is almost never done in France except for very bas-de-gamme wines. In France, the cépages are always second to the terroir. Are you going to say that you want a Chardonnay when you want to buy a Meursault premier cru? Woohoo...

      We probably will not go to France next year. Let’s plan a bit anyway, very tentatively... The year after (2015), if you’re still at the same place, we will try to organise a little something! :-)

    3. Haha! Superb sense of humour as always Roger!

      I will look out for the guide, it seems like a worthwhile purchase.

      The habit of calling wine by the vine outside of France is simply because we don't have cool names for areas like "Bordeaux", "Burgundy" or "Meursault". We generally have to default to vine names because they sound cooler than "Slanghoek", which is an area that actually produces some very nice wine but the name is "Slanghoek". ;-)

      With some of the older wine estates, like Nederburg, Franschhoek or Kanonkop the estate name will become synonymous with fine wine but they use the Estate name together with the vine name, for instance "Kanonkop Pinotage" or "Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon" or "Glen Carlou Pinot Noir". When a wine is made outside of these great estates they will often just refer to the general area, like "a Sauvignon Blanc from the Stellenbosch District", or even more general "a Chardonnay from the Cape".

      Well it's a date then! I'll keep a few good wines for when you come to visit in 2015.

      Have a great evening! (or is it still daytime in Canada?)