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Archive from October 2015

Meet our partner winemakers at the end of year wine fairs and wine tastings.


Now that the 2015 harvest is over, it's time for our partner winemakers to hit the road and present their latest wines at the wine events in the lead up to Christmas. Come and meet the winemakers and taste their organic wines at one of the following wine events.

Domaine Stentz-Buecher - Alsace

- 26 -30 November - Salon des Vignerons Indépendants - Paris, Porte de Versailles, Stand M9. Click here for a free invitation.

- 3-18 December, Alsace Christmas Market (marché de Noël Alsacien), Paris - in front of the Gare de l'Est train station from 9:00-20:00 except Sunday (10:00 - 19:00). Free entrance

Wine lover gift

Domaine la Cabotte - Côtes du Rhône

- 14 November - Salon de Bollène - Salle Georges Brassens, Entrance E 4.

- 5-6 December, Wine Tasting at Domaine la Cabotte of their « family wines » : champagne from Domaine Jean-Marie Massonnot, Burgundy wines from Domaine d'Ardhuy and Côtes-du-Rhône wines from Domaine la Cabotte - Domaine la Cabotte, lieu-dit Derboux, Mondragon. Free entry.

Vineyard experience, France

Domaine Chapelle - Burgundy

- 6-8 November, Salon des Vins et Produits du Terroir - Sévrier, Complexe d'Animation, Route d'Albertville.

- 18-20 November (17:00 - 22 :00), Private Tasting at the Hotel Napoléon - Paris, 40 Avenue de Friedland. To receive an invitation, please contact us.

- 28-30 November, Natura Bio - Salon des Vins Bio organic wine fair - Lille, Grand Palais Click here for a free invitation.

- 5 December, Salon du vin de Loire-sur-Rhône wine fair. Free entry.

Wine gift pack

Château Beau Rivage - Bordeaux 

- 20-23 November- Salon des Vignerons Indépendants wine fair - Lille, Grand Palais, Stand B 6.

- 26-30 November - Salon des Vignerons Indépendants wine fair - Paris, Porte de Versailles, Stand E 90.

Wedding present wine

Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard - Burgundy 

- 24-25 October, Fêtes des Vins wine festival - Chablis.

- 20-23 November, Marché des Plaisirs Gourmands gourmet market - Mâcon, Parc des Expositions.

- 4-5 December - Grand Tasting wine fair - Paris, Carrousel du Louvre.

Unique wine gift

Château de la Bonnelière - Loire

- 4-5 December - Grand Tasting wine fair - Paris, Carrousel du Louvre.

Other articles relating to organic wine

Being an organic winemaker in 2015

What is biodynamic wine?

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The 2015 harvest. What happens next in the cellar?


Each year, our partner winemakers work flat out for several weeks during the harvest. It's the most stressful time of the year for them, and as the participants of the Gourmet Odyssey Harvest Experience Days have learned, their work is far from over once the grapes have been picked. Their skill, knowledge and experience are immediately called upon in the cellar to ensure that the juice from the grapes produces a good wine!

So what are the secrets of the cellar once the harvest has been sorted and put into the vats? It depends on the type of wine being produced. At our partner winemakers, they produce mainly white and red wines.

Rent a vine, France

White or red wine?

As we saw in the article describing the harvest, many of the harvested bunches of grapes for making red wine are sorted and de-stemmed to separate the grapes from the stalks. Sometimes the winemakers will then decide to lightly crush the berries. In the olden days this was done by foot or by hand, but these techniques are now much rarer because the machines that de-stem the grapes can also be used for this purpose. The aim of this step is to break the grape skins and to help diffuse the tannins and colour during the maceration period to follow. For the white wines, the grape bunches are generally put in whole, directly into the press.

Wine experience, France

The next steps differ depending on whether red or white wine is being made. For red wine, we put the must, containing all of the matter that makes up a grape (the skin, flesh, juice and pips), into a vat or cask to start fermenting. The contact between the juice and other components of the berry during the maceration period will help to develop the colour and taste of the wine. To make white wine, the grapes are pressed as soon as they have been harvested so as to extract the juice from the elements which could colour or make the wine tannic.

Original wine gift, France

Pressing is a very important but delicate step for making white wine, as the winemaker needs to find the right balance between pressing the grapes sufficiently hard to extract as much juice as possible, and not over pressing them which can give grassy and acidic tastes. Once the juice has run off, the must is left alone so that the tiny solid particles that have been carried into the vat settle at the bottom. This is known as clarification or débourbage.

The alcoholic fermentation

Whether it's the juice to make red wine that is macerating in the vat, or the juice to make white wine that has been pressed, the moment will come when the sugar that it contains will start to turn into alcohol. This is known as the first or alcoholic fermentation. It usually starts all by itself thanks to the yeast found naturally in the must. It can also be set in motion by adding selected yeast or some must from another vat that has already started to ferment.

The temperature during the fermentation period is crucial and differs between white and red wine. In both cases, the yeast stops working below 10°C and the cells die above 35°C. The winemakers can control the temperature of the vats by pumping hot or cold water into an immersion heater or around the jacket of the vat. For red wines, fermentation generally takes place between 25 and 30°C to keep the maximum aromatic properties whilst extracting the tannins and colour. For white wines, the temperatures can be kept lower, between 15 and 20°C because no extraction is needed, allowing more aromas to be kept. The alcoholic fermentation usually lasts anywhere between a couple of days and a month.

Wine making experience, France

There is another peculiarity for the red wines. As the fermentation takes place, carbon dioxide is released, which pushes the pips, skin and any other solid matter to the top of the vat, causing a cap to form. The colour and tannins necessary for the wine are contained within this solid matter, but the juice stays below the cap. It?s therefore necessary to keep the juice in contact with it by punching the cap down into the juice (pigeage), or by drawing off the juice from the bottom of the vat, pumping it to the top and letting it filter down through the cap (remontage). Depending on the style of wine that the winemaker is hoping to achieve, this will be done for each vat anywhere between a couple of times a day to once every few days.

Vineyard experience, France

The malo-lactic fermentation

Once the juice has been transformed into wine, more patience and work is needed whilst it ages. Generally, once the first fermentation has finished, the winemaker will rack the wines to separate them from the larger lee particles and put the wine into a clean vat or into barrels.

For red wines, when the wine from the fermentation tank is drawn off, we get what is called free-run wine (vin de goutte). The remaining marc of solid² matter is then pressed to extract the rest of the wine, which is known as press wine. These two wines are then either blended together during the ageing period or are aged separately, leaving the winemaker the choice to blend them or not at a later stage.

Original wine gift

Shortly after alcoholic fermentation, a second fermentation starts, the malo-lactic fermentation, which transforms the malic acid into lactic acid. This decreases the acidity and softens the wines, so is also an important step in making good quality wine.

Then comes the magic of the winemaker in ageing the wine. Each has their own methods and preferences concerning the container used (concrete or stainless steel vat, wooden cask, old or new barrels etc), the length of time needed for ageing, the blend, and so on. As our partner winemakers often remind us, it's as much about personal taste as anything else, and so they task themselves with the onerous job of regularly tasting all of their wines throughout the ageing process!

To learn more about the vinfication, ageing and blending of wine, why not join us for a Gourmet Odyssey Vinification Experience Day!

Other articles relating to the 2015 vintage

The 2015 harvest gets under way for our partner wineries

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Find the perfect Christmas gift for a wine lover


In your search for the ideal Christmas present this year you're looking for an idea that is original, personalised, useful, practical to take with you, and wouldn't it be great if the gift was also organic and high-tech... Either Father Christmas is going to have fun trying to meet all of those criteria in the hunt for your Christmas present, or just maybe you are already on the Gourmet Odyssey blog, and you're almost there!

Wine gift packs, France

Our Wine Experiences make very original Christmas gift ideas. You can adopt some organic vines and give a personalised gift box containing the adoption certificate and access to the Client Portal to follow the progress of the making of your wine from the vine to the bottle.

Choose one of our organic partner winemakers from one of the seven major wine growing areas in France, decide how many vines you would like to adopt in your gift box, and set in motion a unique experience to discover the world of winemaking. Your recipient will follow the work of the winemaker in the vineyard and the cellar through the newsletters, photos and blog articles related to his wine and life at the selected winery. In no time at all, your recipient will be transformed into an environmentally friendly web wine-maker!

Unique wine gift, France

You can also make the Christmas gift more interactive by adding one or more of the three Wine Experience days at the winery during the wine-making year. It could be in the vineyard during the Discovery Experience Day to get involved in pruning, de-budding or training the vines, or picking the grapes during the Harvest Experience Day. Or else during the Vinification Experience Day, your recipient will learn about the work in the cellar and taste the wines during the ageing process to understand the choices the winemaker must take after the harvest period is over.

Wine making experience, France

All of the visits to the winery last at least 6 hours, the time necessary to go into enough detail to start to understand what it's really like to be a winemaker. The Wine Experience Days are participative, so we'll ask you to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Each day includes wine tasting and lunch, and puts you in direct contact with the passionate winemakers.

Rent a vine, France

At the end of the experience, the winery will bottle your recipient's organic wine, complete with personalised wine labels. Something to savour for a long time to come, and remember your original Christmas gift by sharing a glass of wine among friends or family.

Personalised bottles of wine

The gift package you choose is flexible in terms of the vintage, number of vines, the selected winery, and whether you want to include one or more of the Wine Experience Days. The welcome gift pack can be delivered within a couple of days, and easily fits in a suitcase, or else can be delivered directly to your recipient, or even to an alternative address. The Christmas gift box includes a brochure explaining how to activate the Wine Experience online, a sommelier's apron and a DropStop so that your recipient has something to open straight away.

Wine lover gift

So how's that for the perfect Christmas gift idea? And if you are the one offering the present, maybe you'll get to enjoy some of the organic wine or get away on a weekend break to a French vineyard next year too!

Other articles relating to our partner winemakers

Meet our partner winemakers at the end of year wine fairs and wine tastings.

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Gourmet autumn holiday breaks in France


Going away for an autumn break gives us the opportunity to catch up with some of our favourite winemakers rather than stock up at our local wine merchants. As nice as they are, they're surely fed up with seeing us continually popping in looking for new wines! So where are we off to this time? Here are a few ideas of things to do during a gourmet or wine break in the wine growing regions of France over the coming weeks.

In Alsace

Wine making experience in France

Let's start by whetting our appetite in Eguisheim for the marché du goût on the 18th October where you can meet the local producers and taste their local specialties such as tarte flambées, gingerbread, sweets from the Vosges, spices, and cheeses. If that doesn't suffice, visit the Mushroom festival on the 24-25th October. On the programme are exhibitions, animations, a market, and of course lots of menus featuring mushrooms in the local restaurants. And what to serve with your mushroom fricassee? A fresh Sylvaner should go well, and our partner, the Domaine Stentz-Buecher is just a short hop away in Wettolsheim. Give them a visit and taste their range of organic Alsace wines.

In the Bordeaux region

Vineyard experience in France

For the lovers of cruises, rendez-vous in Pauillac, where you can embark on a commented tour around the islands in the estuary, such as Patiras where you get a great panoramic view of the estuary. Try the lunch menu, and if that gives you some good ideas of pairing food and wine, when you get back you're just a stone's throw from Macau-en-Médoc, where Château Beau Rivage will be able to welcome you and introduce you to the art of barrel making.

In the Loire

Wine tasting gift, France

If you're more of the museum type, still in the gourmet theme, don't miss the exhibition dedicated to the Eat-Art movement of Daniel Spoerri and his renowned "snare pictures" in Chinon. And to make the visit even more interactive, you can follow the visit up with a cocktail dinner. If your children are accompanying you, take them to Lémeré for some pumpkin sculpting to get into the Halloween spirit, and visit the castle where the children can dress up as princesses and knights. And whilst you're in the area, don't miss out on a visit to the cellars of Caves Plouzeau, located in the cave directly underneath the Chinon Fortress, where you can taste the great Loire wines of our partner, Château de la Bonnelière!

In Burgundy

Wine lover gift, France

For the more sporty, a good bike ride is a great way to discover the vineyards and valleys of Chablis. You can hire bikes in Chablis as part of the Vélibourgogne programme at the Tourist Office. Pedal as far as Préhy, and find yourself in the middle of the vines at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, where you can taste their range of biodynamic wines.

These suggestions should keep you busy for a few days. If there isn't enough time to visit the wineries this autumn, then come and join us for a Vinification Experience Day this winter at one of our partner vineyards to discover the secrets in the cellar to blend and age the wines. Have a good holiday!

Other articles relating

Meet our partner winemakers at the end of year wine fairs and wine tastings.

Find the perfect Christmas gift for a wine lover

Add a comment

A great 2015 harvest in the Loire


We returned for the first time since the summer to Château de la Bonnelière for a very important weekend - the harvest! The summer months have been perfect for the vines, allowing us to hope for an exceptional vintage this year.

Under a sunny sky on Saturday, and some mist on Sunday, the participants for the Harvest Experience Days were welcomed by Marc, the owner and winemaker. Time for a quick coffee to gain our strength for the work to come!

Rent a vine, Loire Valley, France

The day started with a quick visit of our adopted vines in the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard and the chance to take a few pictures, before we headed off along the bumpy vineyard tracks (motorways according to Marc!) to the Roche Saint-Paul vineyard, which was the plot set aside for us to harvest.

The Cabernet Franc vines were starting to be tinted with the first of the autumnal colours, but most importantly, they were loaded with lovely ripe grapes.

Adopt a vin france, Loire Valley

We were accompanied by Noémie and Stéphane, who both work with Marc, who helped guide us in choosing the right bunches to pick. Once the buckets and secateurs had been distributed, we spread out in pairs amongst the rows, and started to pick the fruit of this year's work!

Unique wne gifts, Loire Valley, France

Marc's new secateurs caused a couple of minor cuts, but nothing to lessen the enthusiasm and concentration of our harvesters! Once we had reached our objective, 70 ares on Saturday and 10 (long) rows on the Sunday, we returned to the winery for a well earned lunch and a tasting of some of the wines produced by Château de la Bonnelière.

Wine experience gift, Loire Valley, France

In the afternoon, we still had some work to do. We headed to the chai to put our harvested grapes into the vat. The first stage was to unload the crates of grapes from the van and to empty them into the hopper, which then carried the grapes up the conveyor belt and into the de-stemming machine that separates the grapes from the stalks.

Vineyard experience, Loire Valley, France

Once the awaiting trolleys were full of grapes, Marc showed us his unique way of transporting them to the vats using a fork-lift truck. As no pumps are used, his method ensures that the grapes are handled in the gentlest manner possible.

Wine experience gifts,Loire Valley, France

To check that we had done a good job, we had a few tests to do. We used a mustimetre to measure the sugar density in the juice, and we recorded the level of acidity to check that the grapes were ripe enough.

Wine gift packs, Loire Valley, France

The results were very good, so we'll now have to wait very patiently before the bottles will eventually be ready at Château de la Bonnelière! We'll be back early next year for the first tasting of the wine during the Vinificiation Expeirence Days!

Other articles relating to the 2015 harvest

The 2015 harvest gets under way for our partner wineries

The 2015 harvest. What happens next in the cellar?

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