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Cellar work in Chinon


We spent last Saturday in the Loire Valley for a Vinification Experience Day at Château de la Bonnelière.   The aim of this day spent at the winery is to learn more about the work that is done in the cellar to age the wine and bring out the best of its potential.

In the chai, Marc Plouzeau, the winemaker at Château de la Bonnelière, explained how the grapes are handled during the harvest, and how the grape juice is then turned into wine.  Marc told us all about malo-lactic fermentation and the differences between ageing wine in vats and barrels.

 

Winemaking Gift in France. Blend your own wines during the Gourmet Odyssey Vinification Experience Day

 

Once the ageing has finished, which can take up to 18 months after the harvest depending on the year and the type of wine, the wine is then bottled in-situ at the winery.  Marc showed us the machines used to bottle and label the wine.

 

Adopt-a-vine in the Loire Valley and visit the winery with the winemaker.

 

We then sat down to a workshop to help us identify the aromas found in wine, something that is not as easy as it seems!

 

Wine tasting gift in France. Identify the aromas found in wines.
Before settling down to lunch, we tasted one of the sparkling wines produced by Marc, the Perles Fines.  During the meal, we continued the wine tasting with a Chenin white wine and two of the winery's red Chinon wines, the Clos de la Bonnelière and the Chapelle.

 

The cellar used to age the wines produced by Château de la Bonnelière is located directly underneath the Chinon Fortress, in one of the galleries formed from where the rock was extracted to build the castle above.  In this magical place, we saw where the barrels of wine will be brought to continue the wines maturing.

 

Wine blending gift in France. Blend wines in the cellar at Chinon
We tasted 4 wines from the 2013 vintage that are currently in the ageing process.  The first 3 were each from the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard, home to the vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients, but are ageing in either a stainless steel vat, old oak or new oak barrels.  To compare these wines with a different terroir, we also tasted a Chapelle wine that is ageing in oak.

 

The day finished with us each having a go at blending these four wines.  Using measuring cylinders, we blended several different wines to better understand firsthand the different characteristics that each can bring to a finished wine.

Many thanks to all of the participants and to Marc for sharing his passion of winemaking with us.

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