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Archive from March 2012

Wine course in Chablis


Last weekend we finished the series of Wine Experience Days for the 2011 vintage at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis.   The weekend was dedicated to the Vinification Experience Day, where we learn about wine making by following the wine's progress since the harvest back in September.

Wine Experience Gift and wine course in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

The day started in the fermentation hall, where Pierre explained how the grape juice is transformed into wine.  We saw the two vats that are currently ageing our vintage of the Boissonneuse!

Fermentation vats in the fermetation hall
We then headed into the hall where the wine is bottled, labelled and put into the crates.  As you would imagine with a winery the size of Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, all is exceptionally well organised and laid out to work as efficiently as possible.
Wine bottling machine

Back in the main building, we participated in a couple of workshops to hone our tasting skills.  One of the most difficult things when tasting wines is often to find the words to describe them.  Why do we like or not like them?

The first workshop was dedicated to the nose.  With the help of some small jars, we had to find the aromas most often found in white wines.  Not so easy, especially to correctly identify aromas from the same family of smells apart.  We learnt how to differentiate aromas that come from the fruit from those that are a result of the way in which the wine has been aged.

Identifying the main aromas found in white wine

The next exercise had us working our mouths with a blind tasting of 4 different solutions; bitter, sweet, salty and acidic.  Each taste plays on a different area of the tongue, which helped us to identify each solution.

Tasting sugar, acid, bitter and salt solutions

But enough of the exercises, the time had come to talk about real wines!  We tasted a number of different series of wines to differentiate between grape varietals, terroir, vintages and the methods used to make each wine.

Tasting the Chablis Wines

After the meal, we headed out amongst the vines to get some fresh air and to enjoy the warm sunshine.  We stopped in the vineyard where the adopted vines are located so that we could each take a photo in front of our vines!

Photo call in front of the adopted vines!

A final tasting session awaited us at the end of the day, that of our special vintage of Chablis 2011.

Tasting the unfinished 2011 vintage

We tasted the two vats of the Boissonneuse separately, and then we made a blend to give us a better idea of how the 2011 will eventually reveal itself.  It still needs more time to round out, but we could already see that it has good potential!

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Oenology course to discover the art of blending


Last Saturday we spent a thoroughly enjoyable day at the Allegria winery with some of the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience. We were there for the Vinification Experience Day with the objective of finding out how the grapes that we harvested during our last visit are fermented to make wine, aged, and then blended before being bottled.

Wine Experience Adopted Vines Allegria Gourmet Odyssey

We started the day by heading straight out into the vineyard to see the source of the wine. Ghislain d'Aboville, the winemaker at Allegria, showed us the different plots and grape varieties that are grown in the vineyard, and explained how the vines are tended to and nurtured. At this time of year, all is very orderly as the pruning has just finished and the plough had just tilled the soil to remove the grass and weeds.

Wine Gift Rent-a-Vine Gourmet Odyssey

At the far side of the vineyard lie the adopted vines of our clients, a small sign in front of the vines denoting each micro-plot.

Wine Experience Gift for wine enthusiasts. Adopt your own vines in an organic vineyard

Back at the winery building, Ghislain showed us the vats where each vine plot and grape variety is vinified separately.

Visit of the fermentation hall

We then visited the cellar where the wines that are being aged in oak barrels rest.

Visit of the cellar

But enough discussion, it was high time for some work! To warm up our noses, we passed around some small flasks containing different aromas that are to be found in wine. Our task was to identify each one.

Wine Course with teh winemaker. Identifying the aromas found in wine

For the wine tasting session, we started by comparing two syrahs from 2010, the first of which had been aged in one of the vats, and the second in an oak barrel.

Wine Tasting the Languedoc wines

We then tasted some of the wines that had already been bottled, starting with the Petits Bonheurs rosé 2010 and the Tribu d'A white wine from 2008. During the meal we tasted several of the red wines, the Tribu d'A 2008 red, the Carignan Gourmand 2008, and the Cousu Main 2008 from a magnum to finish.

In the afternoon, we focused on the 2011 vintage. First of all, we tasted the main grape varietals that are grown in the vineyard to make the red wines, syrah, mourvèdre and carignan, so as to better understand what characteristics each bring to a wine.

Tasting the main grape varietals

We finished the day by making our own blends in measuring cylinders. It's the best way to appreciate the art of blending, and as Ghislain explained, the objective being to blend a wine that is greater in quality than the sum of its parts.

Blending the wine

Many thanks to Ghislain and to our clients who shared such a stimulating day with us.

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