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Archive from September 2010

Harvest Experience at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy


Last weekend, we had the pleasure of welcoming the Harvest Experience Day 2010 clients at Domaine Chapelle, with a few drops of rain, but in good cheer! Everyone was looking forward to harvesting their grapes, now finally ripe for making the 2010 vintage.

Grapes ready for harvest

A few morning rain showers meant that we changed the order of the day a little.  After the introduction to the region and the wine estate by Jean François Chapelle, we headed off to the reception hall where the grapes, freshly harvested by the team of 40 harvesters, are received to be inspected by the expert eyes of the sorting table team.

Harvested grapes arrive in the reception hall

Yannick, the Vine Manager and, during harvest time, manager of the sorting team, explained and showed us how to separate the good grapes from the bad, thus ensuring that only the best continue their journey into the fermentation tanks.  Around the sorting table, the atmosphere is very jovial, and the jokes fly around.

Sorting the good from bad grapes

Once sorted, the good grapes enter the destemming machine to separate the grapes from their stems.  The stems are then collected together with the rejected grapes, part of which will be turned into compost to nourish the vines for the next harvest, and the rest used to make the strong liqueur, Marc de Bourgogne.

Collecting the stems for compost

Domaine Chapelle boasts a new reception hall which was completed just in time for last year's harvest.  It was engineered to make the handling of the grapes as gentle as possible to help further improve the quality of the wine. And so instead of the grapes being pumped, as is the case in many wineries, they slide by the force of gravity into the awaiting trolley below.

The trolley is then wheeled by hand to one of the vats where each vineyard plot is fermented individually.  The grapes and their juice enter the vats to ferment, which can last between 10 and 25 days depending on the year.

The grapes enter the fermentation tanks

By this stage, the rain had now stopped, and so arrived the moment that everyone was waiting for!  Down to the vineyard, booted up and armed with secateurs to harvest the grapes.  Each client introduced themselves to their adopted vines, identifiable by a sign with their name on, and after a quick lesson by Jean François on which grapes to pick, it was time to knuckle down to work!  And we can testify that the harvest was a good one!

Gourmet Odyssey harvesters hard at work

After the effort, the just rewards! Back to the winery for the wine tasting, accompanied with gougères, a local Burgundy specialty.  We started with Domaine Chapelle's Meursault 2008, followed by the 2003 and 2005 vintages of their Santenay "Clos des Cornières", the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  Jean François explained the difference between the two vintages, which is very pronounced due to the heat wave of 2003.  We then finished with the Gevrey Chambertin 2007 and the Santenay Premier Cru "Beaurepaire" 2002. 

Wine Tasting

Next, off to the make-shift harvesters' refectory, to savour one of Yvette Chapelle's legendary harvesters' meals.  Yannick had spoken of them in hallowed terms during the last Wine Discovery Experience Day, and we weren't let down! Parsley ham, followed by beef, stewed in an Aloxe Corton (one of the estate's wines) sauce, regional cheeses, and a delicious apple tart, all accompanied with a Santenay Premier Cru "La Comme" 2002.  Difficult to get moving again after such a feast!

The Harvesters meal

We finished the day with a guided cellar tour.  Yannick explained the important ageing and blending side of winemaking, and the impact that the choice of wine barrels has on the wine.

Wine Cellar Tour

To sum up: A very pleasant day, full of encounters, sharing and conviviality.  We hope that everyone left with a small insight into the life of a winemaker during the busy harvest season, and that the next drop of Domaine Chapelle's wine will be that much more appreciated!

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Oldest Champagne in the World Surfaces


70 botttles of what is thought to be the oldest champagne in the world, dating from the early 1800s, have been raised today from the bed of the Baltic Sea.  Each bottle is estimated to have a starting price at auction of more than 50,000 euros.

Oldest Champagne in the World

In July, 30 other bottles were found in the same spot by a team of Swedish divers, some 50 metres below the sea off the Äland Isles, between Finland and Sweden. The bottles have remained hidden for over two centuries on a ship wreck that is rumoured to have been carrying the 100 bottles as a present from Louis XVI of France to the Imperial Russian Court. If that is confirmed to be true, then the combined value of the bottles could reach several million euros.

Amazingly, the champagne is exceptionally well preserved by the dark conditions, and cool, stable temperatures.  Maybe we should start filling our cellars with water ?

For more information and a video, visit the BBC website.
 

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