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Wine Experience Days in Burgundy


During the first weekend of March, Domaine Chapelle in Santenay welcomed two groups of apprentice winemakers for two different wine experience days.  For one group it was the last in the 2012 series, and for the other the first of the 2013 vintage.  In the warmth of the reception hall, Jean François and Yvette introduced us to the distinctiveness of the Burgundy terroir and working organically.

 

Wine Course Gift in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

Saturday 2nd March : Vinification Experience Day

On Saturday we concentrated on the ageing and blending of the wine. With Yannick and Yvette we learnt some wine tasting techniques with a series of workshops to develop the sense of smell and taste, and found out how the wine interacts and evolves in the oak barrels.

Gift for wine lovers. Wine tasting lesson in Burgundy, France

Far from just be contained in the barrels, the wine is very active, exchanging with the wood and the air, and the winemaker must remain attentive at all times.  With the large part of the work having been done in the vineyard, the room to manoeuver is limited.
A first series of tasting enabled us to discover the different influences that new and old oak can have on the same wine.

Tasting wine in the cellar

We headed out into the vineyard after lunch to visit the adopted vines, and gave us the opportunity to see the work that had been carried out since our last visit.  The pruning has now been done, and the contrast with the luxurious green from September is striking. 

Adopt-a-vine gift in France. Organic vineyard visit in Burgundy.

Back at the winery, we tasted a few glasses of the 2012 vintage.  It's still in the process of ageing, and will soften considerably by the time it is bottled later in the year.  We concluded the day by comparing wines from the different areas of the Clos des Cornières vineyard, which are from three different ages of vines.

Wine tasting of Burgundy wines in the Cotes de Beaune, France

Sunday 3 March: Discovery Experience Day

On Sunday morning, our new winemakers launched the new cycle of the Wine Experience for the 2013 vintage.  Delighted to reveal the secrets of his profession (or at least some of them!), Jean-François welcomed us to Domaine Chapelle, happily noting that at the start of the 4th year working with Gourmet Odyssey, he still had as much to say and to teach his guests.

Jean-François recounted the history of the winery, from the beginnings with the great great uncle, the local history of the Côte de Beaune region and the influence of the Cîteaux monks, the relationship between the commercial and agricultural sides of the business, the choice of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, and the introduction of the appellation Contrôlée in 1935...  This overview enabled us to become acquainted with the region, and to learn that winemakers don't necessarily work in the same way from Bordeaux, Mondragon or Santenay!

We started to discuss the issues and choices that a winemaker is faced with.  The decision to work organically, the fruit of a personal decision concerning the wine and its impact on the surrounding environment, has consequences that you can immediately see in the vineyard.

The rest of the morning was spent in the vineyard.  We visited several plots of vines to see the difference in pruning methods.   Which branches to cut and leave?  We don't necessarily prune the same way in all the vineyards or for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Wine Experience day in the Vineyard

We then headed to meet our adopted vines.  Once again out came the cameras!

Rent a vine in France and visit the organic vineyard.

Then back to the winery to taste the wines from Domaine Chapelle and for lunch.

In the afternoon, we visited the fermentation hall and the cellars.  It was an introduction to the winemaking side of things, quiet now, but frenetic at harvest time!  Reception of the grapes, following of the fermentation, blending before bottling...  Despite appearances, this room is rarely truly quiet.

Visit the cellar and adopt your own vines in France

We then descended into the labyrinth of cellars under the winery buildings to discover the hidden treasures.  A nice way to end the day before returning for the harvest!

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