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Archive from March 2015

Wine blending in the Languedoc


Last weekend we welcomed the parents of the adopted vines to Domaine Allegria for a Vinification Experience Day. And with them, a light drizzle for the first day of Spring, but that didn't dampen the good cheer and enthusiasm of our participants in any way!

Wine experience gifts in Languedoc

Once everyone had arrived and had a cup of coffee, we booted up, and headed out into the vineyard to find our adopted vines.

Rent a vine in Languedoc

On the way, Ghilsain, the winemaker at Allegria, explained the different work in progress in the vineyard. The pruning has now finished and the first tilling of the soil has started.

This allows the rain to better penetrate the earth. We then returned to the winery building, and we spent quite a while in the chai to better see and understand the different ways that the wines are worked during the vinification phase.

The questions abounded, covering topics as varied as sulphites, racking the wines and ageing them.

Unique wine gift in Languedoc

Before lunch, we participated in a workshop which the winemakers children had help to devise. We had to guess which aromas the 37 different cups contained!

These weren't synthetic aromas, but natural ones that were hidden from view with a tin foil cover over the cup with some holes in.

Personalised wine gift in Languedoc

And so we set about identifying smells as diverse as burnt cork, rosemary, blackcurrant and truffle.

To spice things up a little, we organised a competition and the winner left with a bottle of Dolce Vita 2014 rosé wine!

We then sat down for the meal and wine tasting, which Delphine had lovingly prepared.

Wine tasting gift in Languedoc

To start, a warm chickpea salad with slices of black pudding, which pairs delightfully with the Cinsaut Abuelo 2013.

We then enjoyed a home-made lasagne, and some local goats cheese from the Mas Roland.

wine making experience in Languedoc

After lunch we set about the serious business of blending wines. We blind tasted different grape varietals of Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah to learn what characteristics each brings to a blend, and then had a go at blending some wines to learn how they combine with each other!

Many thanks to all our participants and to the winemakers for a great Vinification Experience Day.

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Pruning the vines in Chinon


Last weekend, we welcomed the first clients of the 2015 vintage to Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon for a Discovery Experience Day. This sunny and fresh day enabled us to learn about the winery and the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard. We met our adopted vines and learnt how to prune the vines, an essential step in the development of the vines.

Our host, Marc Plouzeau, introduced us to the winery and explained his long family connection to the estate. The winery's vineyards stretch across the left bank of the Vienne river, and include different terroir of gravel, clay and flint soils.

Having presented how the work is approached in the different vineyards, Marc gave us a sneak preview of his new range of labels which graphically represent this philosophy.

We then headed out into the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard to meet our adopted vines for the first time!

Wine Experience in Loire Valley, Chinon

After a few photos for the "My Vine" photo competition, it was time to get down to some more serious work!

To warm us up, we started by pulling away some of the pruned branches. The vineyard had been pruned by Marc's team, but he had left us the task of stripping away the old wood to leave a clean space around the branches left to produce this year's harvest.

Adopt a vine in Loire Valley

Marc also taught us how to prune using the "Guyot Simple" technique which is anything but simple!

Each vine is unique, so each needs a moment of reflection before the secateurs start snipping. We started by removing the branch that had produced last year's grapes. Then we needed to choose the new branch for this year, which is usually on the other side of the vine from last year's. We then cleaned up the branch to leave just 8 eyes, so as to reduce the number of grapes, and increase their sugar levels. To finish we left a shorter branch or  "spur", which will then become next years fruit bearing branch.

Rent a vine in Loire Valley, Chinon

To end the morning's activities, Marc explained the next stages of working the vines until they are ready to be harvested, from de-budding, trimming and green harvesting. Each of these steps will help to control the future yield and produce better quality grapes.

We were then rewarded with a tasting of the wines from the château and a meal in the barn. We tasted a Touraine Sauvignon 2014 white wine with the fish terrine, a Chinon Rive Gauche 2014 and a Clos de la Bonnelière 2012 with the blanquette de veau. To finish in style we enjoyed a Chapelle 2012 with some local goat?s cheese, and the little treasure of the winery, the "Ante Phylloxéra" wine, which is made from a micro plot of vines that haven?t been grafted, and can be traced back for more than 200 years!

Wine tasting eperience in Loire Valley

Despite some requests for a siesta after lunch, we continued the day by visiting the tool shed and learning about the machines and equipment which help Marc and his team work the vines organically.

Vineyard unique experience in Loire Valley

As the day drew to a close, we visited the fermentation hall, where Marc answered some of the last questions from our apprentice winemakers.

Many thanks to Marc and to all of the participants for a great day!

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A lovely day in the Burgundy vineyard


It was a beautiful sunny day last Sunday in Burgundy, and we had the good fortune to be at Domaine Chapelle in Santenay for a Discovery Experience Day. This hands-on wine day introduces us to the winery, and teaches us about all of the work carried out by the winemaker in the vineyard to produce the best possible grapes come harvest time.

Wine experience in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

After an introduction to the winery and the region by Jean-François Chapelle, the owner of the estate, we walked to the Clos des Cornières vineyard where our adopted vines are located.

Adopt a vine in Burgundy, France

Jean-François showed us the vineyard and pointed out the different geological strata that can be found around the winery and in the Côte de Beaune. This helps us to better understand the appellation system in the region of Burgundy generic, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines. We then took a few minutes to meet our adopted vines for the first time, a very emotional moment for the new parents!

Vineyard experience in Burgundy, France

It was then time to get down to some work. We're nearing the end of the pruning season, which is one of the most important phases in the development of the vines. You have to prune well to reduce the quantity of grapes produced by each vine, and so improve the concentration of sugar in each grape bunch. We learnt how to prune using the Cordon de Royat method and had a go on some vines which had been pre-pruned by a tractor to cut down some of the wood.

Wine experience gift in Burgundy, France

The vineyard on the other side of the road is planted with Chardonnay, and the Guyot Simple method is used to prune. Here there is no pre-pruning done, so once we had cut the branches, you need to pull them from the training wires as the tendrils have wound around them.

Personalised bottles of wine in Burgundy

Back at the winery, we made the most of the sunshine and started the wine tasting in the courtyard with a Santenay 2013 white wine, accompanied by some gougères. The tasting continued during lunch with a Burgundy Pinot Noir 2011, a Santenay "Clos des Cornières" 2011 and a Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot 2010.

Original wine gift in France, Santenay

After lunch, we went for a walk to one of the Santenay Premier Cru vineyards, the Beaurepaire. This gave us the chance to discover some of the different views of the Côte de Beaune and to learn more about the local geology.

Wine taqsting gift in Burgundy

The day ended with a quick tour of the vaulted cellar to see where the wines are ageing in barrels and where the bottles are stocked until ready for labelling. Many thanks to Jean-François for his passionate explanations, and to all of our dear clients.

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Vinificiation and ageing of wine in Burgundy


We couldn't have asked for better weather for the latest Vinification Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle. The aim of the day was to learn more about the process of making and ageing wine, from harvest time until the wine is ready for bottling.
wine making experience in Burgundy, France

After a welcome coffee, the day started with a workshop in tasting wines, led by Yvette Chapelle. This session starts with an exercise to identify the different aromas that can be found in wine.

Original wine gift in Burgundy, France

We put our sense of smell to the test, first with the primary aromas of fruit and flowers, and then we tried to name a series of tertiary aromas that can be found in wines that have been aged in oak.

Wine tasting gift in Burgundy

The wine tasting session finished with a gustative test to identify the differences between sweet, saline, acidic and bitter solutions.

Personalised wine gifts in Burgundy

Jean-François Chapelle took us on a tour of the fermentation hall and the cellar. In the fermentation hall he explained how the wines ferment and worked in the period immediately following the harvest.

Wine making experience in Burgundy

In the cellar, we then learnt how the wines change when aged in different types of oak barrel. We tasted some wines direct from the barrel to see firsthand the differences in some of the 2014 wines that are currently ageing. Then it was time for the aperitif. A Santenay 2013 village white wine, accompanied by some gougères before sitting down to enjoy lunch.

Rent a vine in Burgundy

We headed out into the sunshine after lunch, and made our way to the Clos des Cornières vineyard, where our adopted vines are to be found. Jean-François taught us a few more things about the local geology and the vines in general.

Wedding present wine in Burgundy

We finished the day back at the winery with a final tasting of the 2014 Clos de Cornières wine which is currently ageing in oak barrels in the cellar. The vineyard is made up of three distinct zones with three different ages of vines which are referred to as the Park, Young and Old. We tasted each of these wines separately, as the final wine will be made up of a blend of the three. Many thanks to the team at Domaine Chapelle for their warm welcome, and to our clients for their good cheer.

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