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Archive from January 2013

Wine blending during the Vinification Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage


We spent last weekend in Bordeaux at Château Beau Rivage for a couple of Vinification Experience Days.  The aim of this hands-on wine course is to learn more about the vinification and ageing stages in winemaking.  Considering the amount of rain that had fallen during the preceding days, luckily it was planned to spend most of the time inside!

Original Wine Lover Gift Experience. Blend your own wines in Bordeaux

The day started in the fermentation hall.  Here, Christine, the winemaker and owner at Château Beau Rivage, explained to us how the grapes are received during the harvest, how the grape juice is transformed into wine during the first fermentation, and why the second malo-lactic fermentation is important to soften the taste of the wine.

Wine Making Experience Gift. Visit the winery and blend your own wine.

We then moved into the barrel room.  Christine's family have been coopers for several generations, and so Christine talked passionately about the influence that the barrels plays on the wine, and the large choice that the winemakers have in the choice of their barrels.

Visit the wine barrels in the cellar. Behind the scenes winery tour in Bordeaux

But the Wine Experience Days aren't just for listening and discussing.  We had organised several practical workshops to help us learn more about wine and winemaking.

Lots of wine tasting happens during the Vinification Experience Day, so to help us find the words to describe what it is we are tasting, the first workshop concentrated on the nose.  With the help of little glass flasks, we had to try and name the aromas found in wine that are brought by the fruit and the barrel.  It's often harder than you would think to correctly put a name to a smell!

Wine Gift for wine enthusiasts. Identifying the aromas found in wine.

For the first series of tasting, we tasted three wines that are still ageing.  Each wine was the same grape variety, picked on the same day, the only difference being the type of barrel it has been ageing in.  The difference is unbelievable - you would think that they were three completely different wines.  This exercise clearly shows the impact of oak on the wine.  The first barrel was made using Eastern Eurpoean oak, the second with American oak, and the third with French oak.

Wine Tasting Experience Gift in Bordeaux, France.

During lunch we savoured some South West French specialities, accompanied with different wines and vintages produced at the winery, including the "Château Beau Rivage" Bordeaux Supérieur, the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey clients, and the winery's "Clos la Bohème" Haut-Médoc wine.

south west France delicacies during the winemakers meal

The afternoon was taken up with blending.  To start, we first tasted four grape varieties separately to better understand what each brings to the wine.  The fruitiness of the Merlot, more spice from the Malbec, the length of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the acidity of the Petit Verdot.

Make your own wine gift. Blend your own wine.

In small groups, we each then mixed our own blends to see firsthand how the taste of the wine differs depending on the grape varieties and percentages used.

To finish the day, Christine gave us a taste of a blend that she had put together, which showed us that 20 years of experience in blending wines does indeed count for something!

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