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Archive from June 2011

A gold medal for Château Beau Rivage’s organic Bordeaux wine!


Yet another medal for Château Beau Rivage... Already awarded several times, the vineyard has recently received yet another distinction.

French Organic Wine Awards and Medals

This time, Château Beau Rivage has been awarded the gold medal at the 15th National Contest for Organic Wines for the 2010 vintage of the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey cuvée.

Another prize that underlines the daily efforts carried out in the vines and cellar at Château Beau Rivage to bring out the best from the terroir.

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Under the Bordeaux Sun


We've just got back from a very hot and sunny Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience weekend at Château Beau Rivage in Macau-en-Médoc, Bordeaux.

Wine course in Bordeaux at Château Beau Rivage

After the initial introductions, we headed straight out into the vineyard, accompanied by Christine Nadalié, the owner and winemaker. 

Chrsitine Nadalié

Christine explained the differences between the 5 grape varieties that are grown in the vineyard; cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, and talked us through each of the key stages in cultivating the grapes from pruning through to harvest.

Bunch of grapes

The grapes are already well developed on the vines, and like elsewhere in France, are a couple of weeks ahead of where they would normally be.  This is a direct result of the very warm spring that we have experienced.

As is the custom with a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Day, we learn by doing, so there is always some work to do!  Christine had three tasks that she had been saving up for us; épamprage, effeuillage and relevage.

Epamprage

Firstly, épamprage is the removing of the unwanted shoots that sometimes grow from the foot of the vines.  These shoots can grow as tall as the whole plant and don't produce any grapes, so if not managed, they take away nutrients and energy from the fruit bearing branches.  The smaller shoots can easily be pulled off by hand, but some of the thicker and more established shoots need the help of a small knife or pair of secateurs.

Effeuillage

The next job that Christine explained was effeuillage, which involves removing some of the leaves that cover the grapes.  There are two primary reasons for this.  One is to increase the amount of sun that the grapes receive to help them mature, and the other is to increase the flow of air around the grapes.  This is particularly important to combat mildew that can damage the grapes following a wet period.  The leaves are removed from the side facing the rising sun only.  This is because the morning sun is weaker, and in the afternoon the sun is stronger, so the shade from the leaves is welcome to protect the grapes.

Relevage

And finally we learnt about relevage.  As the vines grow taller, so the training wires for each row need to be raised to continue supporting the vines.  The wires on each side of the row are raised to the next peg up on the posts, and the wires then clipped together using a small clip.  All of the branches are placed between the wires to tidy the row up, and make sure that the vines aren't damaged when the tractor passes.

We each dispersed among the rows to put into action what Christine had taught us.  Cultivating vines if often a more manual process than you might think!

Adopt-a-vine Bordeaux

A small name board was to be found in front of the adopted vines for each client, so having perfected the tasks of the day, we each had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the vines, take some pictures and ensure that everything was in order concerning the effeuillage, épamprage and relevage!

Wine Tasting

By now it was getting seriously hot in the vineyard, so back to the château it was to find some shade and start the wine tasting session! Fittingly, the first wine to be tasted was the rosé 2010, which had been chilling in the fridge!

During the meal of locally prepared charcuterie, we tasted a large range of wine from Château Beau Rivage including the 2007 and 2006 vintages of the wine selected for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience,  Raphaël 2007, Clementine 2004, le Phare 2001 and Christine's Haut-Médoc wine, Clos la Bohème 2007 and 2006.

The Chai

The cool of the chai was welcome after lunch.  Christine showed us the fermentation tanks used to ferment the wine, and explained how the sugar in the grapes is transformed into alcohol.

cellar tour

We finished the day in the cellar, where we saw the impressive collection of oak barrels that are used to mature the wines.  This part of the day, gave us an insight into one of Christine's other passions, the art of barrel making, which she has grown up with, coming from a family of coopers.

Many thanks to Christine, Guillaume and Aurélie for letting us get behind the scenes to discover a small part of the fascinating world of wine making.

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Spend a few days in Chablis!


If you plan to explore Burgundy for a weekend or several days and visit some of the region's renowned vineyards, then you'll need a base from which to explore!  Why not book yourself into a luxury gite?

Gite at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis, Burgundy

La Revue du Vin De France, one of the leading French wine magazines, has just launched a special wine tourism issue.  One of the featured gites is "Le Refuge de Petit Louis", owned and run by Dmaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  This welcoming and spacious gite is available to all travellers and Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience customers.

The perfect home from home to explore Chablis and the precious wines of Domaine Brocard!

For more information about the gite, follow this link.

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Relevage of the Vines


Among the green and leafy vines of Burgundy, we spent last Saturday in Santenay at Domaine Chapelle for a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience Day.

Burgundy Terroir

From the Clos des Cornières vineyard, where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience are located, Jean-François Chapelle and Yannick Jacrot explained the differences in the surrounding terroir, why some vineyards are designated as Premier Cru, and others Santenay Village.

We learnt about all the steps involved in cultivating the vines from pruning through to the harvest, and as the domaine is organically certified, Yannick explained the particularities that are involved in treating organic vines.

Relevage

As always with a Gourmet Odyssey Experience Day, there is some work to do!  At this time of year, the vines are growing rapidly, and as the vine is a creeper plant, they need to be managed and held in check.   Yannick and Jean François showed us how to carry out "Relevage" and "Rognage".

Relevage is ensuring that each of the vine branches grow between the training wires, and that they are separated from one plant to another.  This helps to support the vines, and to increase the flow of air around the grapes to defend against mildew.  As the vines had grown since the last relevage, the training wires were raised up a notch on the wooden posts and then clipped together using a biodegradable clip.

Rogange is trimming the tops of the vines to direct more of the plants energy into the fruit-bearing branches.  This is predominantly carried out using the tractor, but is still done manually for some of the more fragile young vines, using a pair of shears.

Working on the vines

Explanations well understood, we then dispersed amongst the rows of vines to get to work on raising the training wires, separating and placing the branches, and trimming the tops of the vines!

Adopt-a-vine

Before heading back to the winery, there was time for each client to introduce themselves to their adopted vines!  The grapes have already started to form, and give the first mouth-watering taste of the 2011 vintage to come!

Wine Tasting Burgundy wines

After all the talk about how the vines and grapes are nurtured, it was time to taste the final product!  We gathered next to the old oak fermentation tanks in the cuverie to begin the wine tasting session of Domaine Chapelle's wines.  We started with a Santenay "St Jean" 2009 white wine, produced on the upper slopes behind the domaine that we had seen in the morning from the vineyard.  We then moved onto a more complex Chassagne Montrachet "Morgeot" 2009.

Lunch of Burgundy specialities

The wine tasting continued over lunch with the red wines, including a Santenay, Santenay Clos des Cornières, Aloxe Corton and Santenay 1er Cru.

Cuverie

In the afternoon, we headed over to the fermentation hall to see where the grapes are collected at harvest time and put into the vats, and to learn how the sugar is turned into alcohol during fermentation.
Wine cellar

The final part of the day was to visit the cellar that lies like a labyrinth below the winery buildings and courtyard.  This is where the wines are aged in a mixture of new and old oak barrels, and once bottled, are stored.

As always, thanks to Jean François and Yannick for making the day so interesting and informative!

 

 

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The Wine Pros Gather


The Vinexpo Wine Fair is undeniably the largest international wine fair for professionals and a must-attend event for all growers.

 

Vinexpo 2011

For the 2011 edition from June 19th to 23rd , the show brings to Bordeaux over 2000 exhibitors from more than 40 countries around the world!

Three Gourmet Odyssey partners including Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard are present to promote their wines and their rich terroir, and by a happy coincidence, in the organic wine hall, Domaine Chapelle and Chateau Beau Rivage are located on adjacent stands!

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A Champagne Worth its Weight in Gold


30,000 Euros... That's what a collector from Singapore paid for a bottle of Champagne whose history remains a mystery, but which has just become the most expensive bottle of Champagne in the world.

Champagne auction

In our blog post of 1st September, we dealt with the recent discovery of a shipwreck full of Champagne bottles, off the island of Föglö, in the Baltic Sea.

After their return to shore, they've quickly been identified as being mostly champagnes from Veuve Cliquot and Juglar, a brand that doesn't exist anymore.

Then began a long and meticulous phase of research and analysis, in order to determine both the origin and destination of the schooner, but also to see if the precious liquid is still drinkable!

According to minutes found in the Veuve Cliquot archive, the bottles date back to the late 1830's, but even if some samples are still being tested, it already seems that a precise dating of the bottles would be an exploit. As for the name of the ship, where it came from, and the destination of the cargo, the mystery remains unsolved.

However the content of the bottles is now known. Tasted by several specialists, critics are unanimous: if some of them didn't stay the test of time, others on the contrary have truly enhanced their potential and contain a real treasure for the palate.

So there is no surprise, given the rarity of such a discovery and the mystery that surrounds it, that two of these bottles have been bought for 30,000 Euros (Veuve Cliquot) and 24.000 Euros (Juglar) during an auction last Friday!

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