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Wine Discovery Experience Days in Bordeaux


Last weekend, we spent two thoroughly enjoyable Discovery Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage in Macau-en-Médoc.  The rain that was forecast on Saturday never materialised and we had deep blue skies all day Sunday.  Perfect for passing some time working in the vineyard!

Bordeaux Vineyard

During the Discovery Experience days, we learn more about what needs to be done in the vineyard to produce the best possible grapes come harvest time.  Christine Nadalié, the winemaker at Château Beau Rivage, spent all day with us to explain her profession and to answer our many and varied questions.

After the introductions, we headed straight out into the vineyard.  On the way to the plot where the adopted vines of Gourmet Odyssey's clients are located, Christine explained to us the different grape varieties planted in the vineyard, and she started to talk about the many manual tasks that are necessary to produce the best quality grapes.

Once we had arrived at the Merlot plot at the far end of the vineyard, we dispersed among the rows of vines, chalkboard in hand, to find our adopted vines! 

Adopted vines

Due to the cold and wet spring, the vines are a few weeks behind where they would be in a normal year.  Usually, we would have had lots of shoots to remove from the vine trunks, but they proved surprisingly hard to find.  It's important to get rid of the lower shoots because they won't produce any fruit, and will just drain energy from the plant.  Later, they can also act as a bridge to bring disease from the ground to the grapes if not removed.

De-budding

There is much wildlife in the vineyard at Château Beau Rivage.  In the sky, some buzzards circled above and we even saw the odd stork, and on the ground rabbits were seen hopping and running between the vine rows.  But the rabbits are a little too fond of the shoots on the young vines, and as a result, the plot that has recently been replanted is taking longer to establish itself than wanted.  But that gave us another job to do!  To protect them from the rabbits, we removed the weeds from around the vines, and then placed a protective cover around them.

Protecting the young vines

After all that hard work, the wine tasting was just reward!  We started with the clairet, a type of Bordeaux rosé wine, followed by the Raphaël 2007.

Wine tasting

We then sat down to eat lunch in the barn and to continue the wine tasting, including the "Château Beau Rivage" wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Experience, Christine's "Clos la Bohème" Haut-Médoc , and "Le Phare".

Winemakers meal

In the afternoon, we went into the cellar where Christine continued to answer our questions.  She explained how the grapes are received during the harvest and what happens during the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation stages.

In the barrel room, we discovered Christine's other fascinating universe, that of a cooper. She enlightened us on the interaction between the oak and wine that takes place in the barrels and its importance in ageing Bordeaux wines.

 

In the cellar

Very many thanks to Christine and Guillaume for sharing their passion for winemaking with us, and of course, to all our clients who, we hope, left appreciating a little more the vast and varied profession of being a winemaker!

Comments

  • We had an excellent Discovery Experience Day and our thanks to all those involved for the great time spent together: Mark, Chrsitine, Guillaume and all of the participants present. See you soon for the harvest.

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