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Tagged articles : Chablis

Raising the training wires in Chablis


The vines have also been enjoying the glorious weather that we have been having for the past few weeks and have been growing rapidly.  There’s much work to be done to keep on top as we were to discover during the Gourmet Odyssey Discovery Experience Day at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis last Saturday.

Original wine gift for wine lovers.  Adopt a vine in Chablis, France

After the introductions we set out into the vineyard.  Here we learnt about all of the work that has been carried out in the vineyard since the last harvest.  Arnaud showed us how the vines had been pruned and de-budded, and also explained how the soil has been worked.  The winery is the largest organic and biodynamic winery in Chablis, so we also spent quite a lot of time discussing the differences between organic, biodynamic and conventional wine-growing.

Learning about winemaking and the work in the vineyard

With the recent growth spurt of the vines, there are currently two main tasks to do.  One is to trim the branches on the sides and tops of the vines.  This is done using a special cutter that is attached to the front of the tractor .  We watched a tractor in action on the adjacent vine plot, and the driver then stopped to give us a demonstration of the versatility of this tractor, which can be fitted with different tools to plough, treat the vines, or even harvest the grapes.

Vineyard Experience gift to participate in making your own personalised organic wine

The other task of the moment is more manual, and involves raising the training wires to support the weight of the foliage and future grapes, and to better space out the vines.  Arnaud had left us a plot to work on, and after receiving our instructions, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in!  In twos, one either side of the vine row, we unclipped the two top training wires, raised them up to the final level, and then re-clipped them together.

Rent-a-vine gift in an organic vineyard

On our way back, we made sure that each of the branches were in between the training wires.  This will prevent them from being damaged by the passing tractors and becoming entangled with the opposite vines.

We then returned to the winery for a well-earned wine tasting.  Anne-Laure served us a Petit Chablis 2015, Chablis Sainte-Claire 2015, and a Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux 2014.  Over lunch, prepared on-site by Julie, a great local caterer, we enjoyed a Chablis Vielles Vignes 2015 and a Chablis Saint-Anne 2004 from a magnum to see how the Sainte Claire wine that is chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience can age over time.

In the afternoon we visited the Sainte-Claire vineyard to meet our adopted vines, and take a few pictures with them!  They too were in fine fettle, and looking great.  They have just finished flowering, and are said to be at the peppercorn stage  where the grapes are starting to take shape, and we can see the bunches forming.  The grapes will increase in size over the next few weeks, before the vines will concentrate their energy on ripening them and producing the sugar needed to ferment and create the wine.

Adopt-a-vine in France in an organic vineyard and make your personalised bottles of wine

The day ended with a visit of the fermentation hall where the wines from last year are ageing.  They have finished their fermentation and are now resting on their fine lees, until they will be ready for bottling.

Original personalised organic wine gift

And so we leave the vines to bring the grapes to maturity over the coming weeks.  We’ll next be back for the harvest, which although still too early to say when, looks like to be slightly earlier than usual.  But that depends on the weather to come.  We hope for dry, sunny weather, interspersed with a few rain showers that are followed by sun and wind.  That would be perfect! 

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Harvesting the Chardonnay grapes in Chablis


Gourmet Odyssey’s 2016 harvest season continued last weekend in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  It’s been a challenging year for Chablis winemakers, and so they are happy to finally pick the grapes and get what is left of this year’s harvest safely into the cellar.  The Gourmet Odssey Wine Experience clients put their boots on, dodged the rain clouds, and brought their good cheer to lend a helping hand on Friday and Saturday!

Harvest Experience gift in Chablis, Burgundy, France

Once everyone had arrived at the winery, we’d filled up on coffee and croissants, and the introductions had been done, we headed out into the vineyard to join the winery’s team of harvesters who were already hard at work.

We were met by Micheline, who manages the harvesting teams.  She issued us each with a bucket and pair of harvesting secateurs, and equipped a few brave volunteers with large plastic baskets to carry on their backs.  She then explained which grapes to pick, how to pick them, and which grapes to leave on the vine.

Adopt a vine gift and harvest your grapes in the vineyard

Then we dispersed in pairs among the vines to start our harvest.  Taking care not to cut our fingers, we cut the bunches of grapes and put them into the bucket.  Once full, we then called one of the porters over and emptied our bucket into the basket they were carrying on their backs.

Harvest your own grapes gift

The porters moved between the harvesters, and once the basket was full, they then headed to the trailer, climbed a ladder and tipped the grapes over their heads.  It’s not as easy as it looks the first time, but you soon find the technique that works for you!

Harvest experience gift in an organic French vineyard

During the two days, we harvested grapes in two Premier Cru vineyards, Vaulorent and Mont de Milieu, as well as picking some grapes from a young plot of Chardonnay vines.

Organic wine and harvest experience gift

As the morning ended, we returned to the winery to see where the harvest is received and put into the wine presses to separate the juice from the skin, pips and stems.  We learnt about how the presses work, the work in the cellar during the harvest and how the grape juice is turned unto wine during the fermentation process.

Wine press in action

It was then time to taste some of the wines from the winery, and we started by tasting the range of biodynamic Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru wines produced by the winery under the Julien Brocard label.  It was a great opportunity to appreciate the differences in taste and complexity of the different appellations.

Rent-a-Vine, wine tasting and harvest experience gift

We continued the wine tasting over lunch as we sat down to eat the harvesters’ meal, freshly prepared onsite by the caterers. It’s important to keep the harvesters well fed and happy!

After lunch we took some fresh air and went back into the vineyard to see our adopted vines.  As always, a good excuse to get the cameras out, and adopt all manner of poses in front of the vines!

Adopt-a-vine gift experience and harvest

We then talked a little more about the differences between manual and machine harvesting and other topics that hadn’t yet been covered before the day drew to a close.

Thank you to all at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for making us so welcome, and to all of our apprentice harvesters for your hard work and a fun day spent together.  See you soon for one of the Vinification Experience Days!

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A lesson in pruning vines at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis


Pruning is probably the most complicated and hardest of all the work that is carried out in the vineyard. It is probably the most important too, as it helps determine not just the yield of this year’s harvest, but also lays the foundation for the following year. It might sound simple in theory, but as the participants in last Sunday’s Discovery Experience Day at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard were to find out, it’s not quite as simple!
Vineyard experience, Chablis

The aim of this hands on wine course is to learn about all of the work that the winemaker has to do in the vineyard to ensure the best possible grapes at harvest time, so after the brief introductions, overview of the Chablis region and the history of the winery, we headed out into the vineyard.

We made our way to the Boissonneuse vineyard, which is where our adopted vines are located, and which was also the first of the winery’s vineyards to be organically and biodynamically certified. Here you have a great view of the rolling Chablis hills, planted with vines as far as the eye can see, and so we took a few minutes to take some photos of our vines in this wonderful setting.

Adopt a vine, Chablis, France

It was then time to get down to some serious business! We were accompanied by Fred, one of the key members of the vineyard team. He told us about what had been keeping him busy since the last harvest, most of the time which had been spent so far pruning the vines. The pruning at the winery has finished, but Fred had kept a few vines back so that we could have a go for ourselves. He showed us how to choose which branches to cut, and which to select to produce this year’s harvest. Easy!

Wine experience, Chablis, France

Secateurs in hand, we then had a go for ourselves. Hang on a minute. What did Fred say? Is this the right branch to keep? This vine doesn’t look anything like the ones he used for the demonstration... The first thing we learnt is that the theory is all well and good, but each vine has its own exceptions! However, after the first couple of vines, it starts to get a little easier, but we have a much better understanding of the complexity of what appears to be a simple task. And when you look at the hundreds of thousands of vines growing on the surrounding hills, you realise what a mammoth task pruning is.

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Fred then showed us how the branches are bent and attached to the training wire using a fantastic tool that ties and cuts some string at the press of a button, considerably speeding up the job.

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We also had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics as varied as working the soil, grafting and planting new vines, as well as the differences between conventional, organic and biodynamic farming.

We then made our way back to the winery for a well earned tasting of some of the Chablis wines produced on the estate. We tasted a Petit Chablis 2014 and Chablis Sainte Claire 2015, produced from the vineyard immediately around us. We then tried a Chablis Premier Cru “Butteaux” 2011, followed by a Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur” 2011. Over lunch we continued the tasting with a Chablis Boissonneuse 2013 and one of the few red wines produced at the winery, the Irancy “Les Mazelots” 2014.

Original wine gift, Chablis, France

After lunch and all those wines, it was good to get some fresh air! We headed out into the Sainte Claire vineyard, where we could see the notable difference in terroir from the Boissonneuse vineyard. Here we talked about the different tasks that lay ahead in the vineyard between now and the harvest, and how the winemakers will choose when the time is right to pick the grapes.

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The day ended with a quick visit to the fermentation hall that is home to all of the wooden casks at the winery. It’s an impressive room, and is where part of the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey cuvée is aged.

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We’ll go into more detail about the winemaking side of things during one of the Vinification Experience Days. For now the attention swings back to the vineyard, as the next couple of weeks will be crucial as we hope that the last of the frosts are behind us, and that the buds continue to flourish unhindered.

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Learning about winemaking in Chablis


We spent a great day last Saturday in Chablis learning about the art of winemaking during a Gourmet Odyssey Vinification Experience Day at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  The aim of the day was to pick up where we had left off after the Harvest Experience Day last autumn, and to get a better understanding of the work of the winemaker from the moment the grapes are received at harvest time, to the moment the wine is ready to be bottled.

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After the introductions and a welcome coffee, we made our way to the main fermentation hall to see where the harvested grapes are weighed and transferred from the trailers into the presses at harvest time.

Vineyard experience gift in Chablis

Our guide for the morning was Odile, the maître du chai, who explained how the grapes are pressed to separate the juice from the skin and pips.  She then told us about the fermentation process and the steps involved.

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Odile then let us taste several different wines, direct form the stainless steel vats, so that we could better appreciate how the wine change as they finish their malo-lactic fermentation and start to go through the ageing process. Some wines were fizzier, others clearer or more cloudy.  Odile explained why it was the case for each one.  The last vat that we tasted was the wine from the Boissonneuse vineyard, where the Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines are located.  This gave us our first preview of the potential for the 2015 vintage!

Wine making experience and wine tasting gift in Chablis, France

We then saw where the wine is bottled once it has finished ageing, typically 12 to 24 months after the harvest depending on the wine.  When the bottles are filled, they are then sealed with a cork or screw top depending on the demands of the market where the wine will be sold, before being labelled, and put into cases.

Wine gift pack to follow the making of your own personalised bottles of wine

Back at the winery, we then started to prepare ourselves for the wine tasting session.  Often the most difficult thing to do when tasting wines is to find the words to describe the sensations that they give us.  To help us, we put our noses to the test, and had to identify different aromas that can be found in white wines due to either the grape varietal or the way that it has been made.  An exercise that is as fun as it is frustrating!

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We were now ready to taste a series of wines, where we had to guess what the difference was between each of the wines presented.  For the first series, Anne-Laure asked us to try and identify 3 different grape varietals, the second we had to say which wine was the Petit Chablis, which the Chablis and which the Chablis Premier Cru, and the third series allowed us compare a wine that had been aged in a stainless steel vat with one that had been aged in an oak cask.

Having tasted 8 different wines, we were ready for something to eat, so we sat down to a meal that had been freshly prepared onsite that morning by Julie.  During the meal we tasted the 2012 vintage our  biodynamic wine, “La Boissonneuse” , and an Irancy “Lez Mazelots” 2013, one of the red wines produced at the winery.

Adopt-a-vine-gift experience and personalised bottles of white Chablis wine

After lunch, we took a walk amongst the vines to visit the Boissonneuse vineyard, where our adopted vines are located.  From here, there is a great vantage point to see the exposition of the different terroir that are classified as Chablis, Premier Cru or Grand Cru.  After taking a few photos of our vines, we returned to the warmth of the winery.

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In the cellar, the end wall has been left bare, revealing the different layers of limestone clay and shale that characterise the typicity of the kimmeridgian soil found round Chablis.  Here we learnt the importance of this soil and its impact on the Chablis wines.

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The day ended with a visit to the fermentation hall where the oak casks are located.  Here some of the estate’s finer wines are aged, including part of our Boissonneuse wine.  We tasted the wine directly from the cask to see how it compared to the Boissonneuse wine that we had tasted earlier from the stainless steel vat.

These two wines will be kept separate throughout the ageing process, and will be only be blended together shortly before the wine is ready for bottling next year.  So we’ll have to be patient before we can taste the finished wine, but the early indications are promising!

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A good harvest in Chablis


Last Saturday was a busy day for Gourmet Odyssey, as we were hosting Harvest Experience Days in the Rhône Valley, the Languedoc, and also in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. One would normally expect to harvest a few weeks later in Burgundy than the south of France, but the exceptionally hot summer, combined with the hail storm that hit some of the vineyards in Chablis on the 31st August, meant that the harvest had been brought forward.

As soon as we had finished the introductions we headed outside to receive our equipment for the day, a pair of secateurs and a bucket each, and a couple of baskets for the porters. We met up with Emilie, from the vine management team at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, in the Sainte Claire vineyard, and listened intently as she gave us our instructions on how to harvest, and which grapes to pick and which to leave behind.

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We paired off, two to a row, and set about harvesting. First we removed the leaves from the vines from around the fruit. This helped us to more easily access the grape bunches, and also made it safer in warding off any unwanted finger cuts!

Vineyard experience in Burgundy, Chablis, France

The grapes are of a very good quality this year, and we could taste the plentiful natural sugar present, thanks to the dry and sunny summer. Unfortunately for us, some rain had decided to join us too for the morning, but that didn't dampen our spirits any, and the buckets soon filled up!

A few brave volunteers took it in turns to act as porter. Their role was to walk up and down the rows, collecting the grapes from the pickers and putting them in the basket that they wore on their backs.

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Once the baskets were filled, the porters then carried their load to the waiting trailer, climbed a ladder, and emptied the load over their shoulder, trying not to fall in with it!

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At the end of the morning we headed over to the Boissonneuse vineyard to have a look at our adopted vines, giving us the opportunity to take a few more photos!

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On the way back to the winery, we stopped to have a look at where the grapes are then emptied into the presses, before cleaning the buckets, and cleaning ourselves up.

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Anne-Laure, from the Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard team had prepared some wines for us to taste, which were most welcome after our mornings effort! We started with a Petit Chablis "Les Plantes" 2012 and a Chablis "Sainte Claire" 2014. We then tasted the 2012 vintage of the Chablis wine chosen for our Wine Experience, La Boisssonneuse, and then finished with a Chablis "Côte de Lechet" Premier Cru 2012, before heading upstairs for lunch, where we also tasted an Irancy red wine produced by the winery.

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In the afternoon, we caught up with Julien Brocard, who has taken over the running of the winery from his father. Julien showed us how the grapes are pressed, and told us about how the wine will evolve during the fermentation process and how it will be worked. It was also the opportunity to talk a little about his reasoning for working much of the winery biodynamically.

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We then visited the large fermentation hall, where the winery's top wines are worked and aged in oak casks and some in concrete eggs.

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The day ended with a final tasting session. We first tasted the grape juice that had been freshly pressed from our harvest. We then compared it to some juice that had already started the fermentation process and fizzed a little. This juice is now known as bourru.

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Many thanks to all of our apprentice harvesters for their hard work, and to the team at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for welcoming us. We look forward to seeing how the 2015 vintage has evolved during the Vinification Experience Days next year.

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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Training the vines in Chablis


The vines are growing very fast at the moment, and there is lots of work to be done in the vineyard to keep everything in order. We spent last Saturday at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis to learn a little more about the mammoth effort needed to produce the best possible quality grapes come harvest time.

Vineyard experience in Chablis, organic white wine gift

Following the introductions to the winery and the region, we walked to the Boissonneuse vineyard, the plot where our adopted vines are located. From here, we have a great view of the rolling Chablisien countryside, and we could identify the different terroirs that make up the Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis appellations. We took a few minutes to take a couple of photos of our adopted vines, and to encourage them to produce a good harvest this year!

Adopt a vine in Chablis, France

In the vineyard, we were accompanied by Frédéric from the vine management team. He explained the work carried out in the vineyard since last year's harvest, including the long task of pruning the vines.

Wine experience gift in Chablis, France

He had brought some tools with him to show us some of the equipment used to prune and attach the vines to the training wire.

Frédéric told us about how the soil is mechanically worked in line with the way that the vineyard is cultivated organically and biodynamically. He explained the differences between conventional, organic and biodynamic farming. Julien Brocard joined us to explain what convinced him to work biodynamically at the winery.

At the moment, the vines are thriving, and grow several centimetres each day. The training wires are raised in line with the vines growth to help support the weight of the foliage. You have to also ensure that the branches are placed in between the wires, and Frédéric showed us how to do so. We then spread out among the rows, and got stuck in. It's an important job that helps the tractor pass more easily between the rows, and that also helps reduce the vines exposure to disease.

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After a morning spent in the vineyard, we had earned our wine tasting session. Back at the winery, Sébastien introduced us to the range of biodynamic wines produced at the winery, starting with the Petit Chablis ?Les Plantes? 2012, followed by the wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey, "La Boissonneuse" Chablis, also from the 2012 vintage. We then tasted two Chablis Premier Cru wines from 2011, the "Vaudevey" and "Côte de Léchet", before a blind tasting of a magnum of the Chablis Grand Cru "Bougros" 2003. The wine tasting continued over lunch.

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We returned to the vineyard after lunch to see the difference in terroir around the winery buildings compared to the vineyard where we had spent the morning. We also talked about the work that will be done during the coming summer months, and how the moment is decided when the grapes will be ready to be harvested.

Personalised bottles of wine, Chablis, France

The day finished in the fermentation hall where the oak casks are to be found. Here, the wines from last year are slowly ageing. We will spend more time here during the Vinification Expeirence Days.

Many thanks to all of the participants for this most enjoyable day.

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

A good harvest in Chablis

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A great harvest in Chablis


We spent a very enjoyable weekend for the harvest  in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. The nice weather of the past few weeks remained in place, and had helped provide nice ripe bunches of grapes, with a good balance between sugar and acidity. Perfect conditions for harvesting!

 

Adopt a vine in Burgundy

 

After the coffee and croissants, we headed out into the vineyard to join up with the team of harvesters. Micheline, the team leader, distributed the secateurs and buckets to each of us, so we were equipped with the material necessary to harvest. She explained which grapes to pick and which to leave behind. We then spread out among the rows to get down to work.

 

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In tandem with the pickers, the other important role in the vineyard during harvest time is that of the porters. We took it in turns to carry a basket on our back, and when the harvesters had filled their buckets, they then emptied them into the basket. The basket can hold more grapes than you would think, and quickly becomes rather heavy! To empty it, the porter carries his load to a waiting trailer, climbs a ladder, and then lets the grapes fall over his shoulder.

 

adopt a vine in France and get involved in the harvest

 

With such a great harvest, the buckets and baskets filled up quickly, and the morning passed by in a flash. Back at the winery, we had earned our aperitif. We tasted a Petit Chablis « Les Plantes » 2012, a Chablis « La Boissonneuse » 2011 and a Chablis 1er Cru « Les Vaudevey » 2011 before sitting down to lunch, where we continued the wine tasting.

 

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After lunch, we made our way to the fermentation hall to see where the harvested grapes are weighed and put into the press. Here, Pierre and Julien explained how the grapes are pressed, put into the vats and how the juice is separated from the sediment.

 

Rent a vine gift in Chablis and participate in the harvest

 

We then walked to the Boissonneuse vineyard where the adopted vines are located and to take a few pictures.

 

Wine lover gift in Chablis

 

The day finished with a tasting of two different grape juices, to compare the juice before and after settling. The juice will soon start to ferment to turn the sugar into alcohol, but we'll have to wait until next year for one of the Vinification Experience Days before we next get the chance to taste the wine!

Many thanks to Pierre, Micheline and Julien for welcoming us, and to all the participants for the work during the harvest and their good humour throughout the day.

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De-budding in Chablis


Last weekend, we spent an excellent wine Discovery Day in the vineyard at Domaine Brocard in Chablis.

The day started in the Boissonneuse vineyard, which was the first plot to be converted to organic and biodynamic farming. Here the head of one the vine teams, Arnaud, explained the differences between cultivating the vines traditionally, organically and biodynamically, and brought us up to speed on the work that has already been done in the vineyard since the harvest last year

 

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The vines are currently a couple of weeks ahead or a normal year, and the first leaves have already appeared.  This means that the work of de-budding can begin.  Arnaud showed us how to remove the double buds and the unwanted shoots.  De-budding is an important step in determining the quality of the harvest to come by concentrating the energy of the plant in the fruit-bearing branches.

 

wine making experience
It was then up to us to roll up our sleeves and to get stuck into the de-budding.  As our experience with pruning during the previous Discovery Experience day had shown us, it's more complicated than you would think!

wine making experience

 

Before heading back to the winery, we took a few minutes to find our adopted vines, giving us the opportunity to take a few photos with them, and to fuss over them a little!

Domaine Brocard makes an impressive range of Chablis wines, and we tasted several Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines before sitting down to lunch.

 

original gift

 

In the afternoon, we took some fresh air and went to visit a different vine plot before visiting the vinification hall that holds the large oak vats.  Here, Pierre introduced us to the vinification and ageing side of wine-making.
Many thanks to Pierre and Arnaud from Domaine Brocard, and to all of our participants for a thoroughly enjoyable day.

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Pruning in Chablis


Last Saturday, we were in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for a Discovery Experience Day. The aim of the day was to learn more about the work carried out in the vineyard to have the best quality grapes possible at harvest time. So after the introductions, we headed out into the vineyard to start the day.
vine pruning Chablis Burgundy

 

We met up with Arnaud from the vineyard management team in the Boissonneuse vineyard, which was the first plot of vines to be converted to organic and biodynamic farming. Arnaud talked about the work that was conducted during the winter, and showed us how the vines are pruned and then attached horizontally to the training wire.

Pruning has finished throughout the estate, but Arnaud had left us a few small rows to prune. After a few demonstrations, it was our turn to have a go. Secateurs in hand, we quickly learnt that pruning is not as simple as you would have thought. Each vine requires thinking about and it seems that there are as many exceptions as there are vines!

vine pruning Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis

Arnaud also showed us how to "pluck" the remaining branch to better concentrate the vines energy in the fruit-bearing branches.

The special vineyard tractors were also out working in the same plot, and so we were also able to see how they are used to turn the soil in between the vine stocks and the rows.

Vineyard work Burgundy Chablis

The Boissonneuse vineyard is also the plot where the adopted vines of Gourmet Odyssey's clients are located, and so we took a few minutes to find our micro-plot of vines!

vine adoption Burgundy Chablis

Our taste buds were fully awake after all the morning's fresh air, and so back at the winery, we began to taste different wines from the range of Chablis wines that are produced on the estate. We continued the tasting during the meal, which was prepared by a local Chablis caterer.

The afternoon continued with a visit of the winery building for an introduction of the work carried out in the cellar, something that we will explore in more detail during the Vinification Experience Days.

Winery visit Chablis Domaine Brocard

Many thanks to Pierre and Arnaud for having shared their passion for the professions with us, and to all of the participants for their enthusiasm!

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Wine vinification in Chablis


Last weekend, we were in Chablis for a couple of Vinification Experience Days at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  It's the third and last in the series of visits for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, with the aim to learn about the work of the winemaker from harvest time right up to bottling and labelling.

In the morning we visited the cuverie to follow the path that the grapes, juice and wine take.  First we saw the area that the grapes are received during the harvest and put into the presses.  Pierre, from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, explained how the presses work and how the juice is then put into the vats.

 

Wine gift in France. Visit an organic winery in Chablis

 

Pierre told us about the alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation processes.  The 2013 wines have all finished their first fermentation, and are now starting the malo-lactic fermentation which will soften the wines.   We stopped in front of the vat containing this year's Boissonneuse wine for a first taste of the wine that the clients of the 2013 vintage will receive next year, once the ageing has finished.  At this stage, the wine is still a little cloudy, which is completely normal.  The wine is far from being finished, but we could taste a nice concentration and equilibrium.

 

Wine-making gift in Chablis.

 

Once the ageing has finished, the bottling takes place in the next door building.  Pierre showed us the line of machines that are used to clean the bottles, bottle the wine and insert the corks.  The bottles then move to the labelling machine before being boxed, ready for transit.  It's a very impressive set-up to see!

 

Wine Gift for a wine enthusiast. Visit of the wine bottling machines.

 

We also organised several workshops around wine tasting.  To hone our skills, we started with a workshop to help identify the aromas that can be found in white wines.  This can be quite frustrating when you know you know a smell, but can't put a name to it!  We then tasted some sweet, salty, acidic and bitter flavoured water to feel how these different tastes act on the tongue.

 

Wine tasting gift for wine lovers.

 

We were now better prepared to taste the wine.  We blind tasted three series of wines to try and identify the differences.  The wine tasting continued over lunch with different vintages of the Boissonneuse, the Chablis chosen for the Wine Experience.

 

Wine Tasting Gift of Chablis wines

 

After all of the wines tasted, it was good to get some fresh air!  We walked to the Boissonneuse vineyard to see the adopted vines and to take a few pictures.

 

Rent-a-vine gift in Chablis, France

 

Back at the winery, we went down into the cellar to see the exposed cut of the ground to better understand the kimmeridgian soil that gives Chablis wines their specificity. We finished the day with a tasting of the 2012 Boissonneuse wine.  This wine is almost at the end of its ageing process and will soon be bottled.

 

The cut of rock

 

Many thanks to all you participated in the day.

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Harvest 2013 in Chablis


We spent two excellent days last weekend at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for the Harvest Experience days.  The grapes took their time to ripen this year, but with the rain at the start of October, everyone is now in the vines to gather the harvest in as quickly as possible.  Luckily we had some very motivated clients to help get stuck in!

Rent-a-vine gift wine experience in Chablis, Burgundy, France

After the introductions to the winery, we headed off to the vineyard to join Micheline, the head of the team of harvesters.  Equipped with a bucket and pair of secateurs each, we spread out among the rows to start picking the grapes.

Original wine enthusiast gift. Adopt vines in Burgundy and get involved in the harvest.

As soon as we filled the buckets, we called for one of our apprentice porters to come so we could empty the grapes into the baskets they were carrying on their backs.  Our brave porters then had to empty the baskets over their heads into the awaiting trailer, something that isn't as easy as it looks!

Harvest Experience Gift

We then followed the grapes journey to the fermentation hall to look at the wine presses that receive the harvest.  Here, we listened to the explanations of how the presses work and learnt about the first stages of fermentation that will transform the grape juice into wine.

Wine lover gift in Chablis.

After all of the morning's works, the tasting of the wines produced by the winery was most welcome!  We started with a tasting of some of the biodynamic wines: the Petit Chablis "Les Plantes" and the  Chablis "La Boissonneuse", followed by the Chablis Premier Cru "Les Vaudevey" and "Vaulorent", before finishing with the Chablis Grand Cru "Les Preuses".

Once we had enjoyed the harvesters' meal, we went to see our adopted vines in the Boissonneuse vineyard.  As usual, out came the cameras to take a few souvenir pictures!

Organic rent-a-vine gift in Chablis, France.

Many thanks to all of our enthusiastic harvesters, and to Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard for having welcomed us.

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Discovery Experience Days in the Chablis vineyard


We spent a sunny weekend among the Chablis vines at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  It did the world of good to have the feeling that summer had finally arrived!  We were there for two Discovery Experience Days, which are designed to find out more about the profession of being a winemaker, and principally, the devotion and work carried out in the vineyard to obtain the best possible grapes come harvest time.

Chablis vineyard

Following the introductions to the winery and the Chablis region, we headed straight out to the Boissonneuse vineyard, which was the winery's first plot to be converted to organic and biodynamic culture.  Each client had adopted some vines, and it is here that they are to be found.

Adopt a vine gift

We took a few moments to take some pictures and so that each person could acquaint themselves with their vines!

Arnauld, who is a member of the vine team, accompanied us to explain the detailed work that is carried out in the vineyard throughout the year.

Working in the vineyard

The vines are currently two to three weeks behind a normal year.  We are still therefore at the stage of de-budding.  Arnauld showed us how to reduce the number of branches on each vine to encourage better quality grapes for the coming harvest.  It was then down to us to roll up our sleeves and start de-budding!

De-budding is almost as complex as pruning, because you always have to keep in mind how to rejuvenate the plant and to think of which branches will be best for the following year.  But the best way to learn, or at least appreciate the complexity of the task, is to get stuck in!

Debudding in the vineyard at Chablis

Arnauld also showed us how to raise the training wires to better support the weight of the vine foliage and grapes to come, and to better space the growth.
A large proportion of the winery's vines are treated biodynamically.  This approach to working means that the winemaker has to be very attentive to the health of the vines, and to treat them in harmony with the surrounding terroir and environment.  Arnauld explained the different preparations that are administered using cow dung, and plants such as stinging nettles.  They are used as preventative treatments for the vines against diseases, and to give them more strength.

back at the winery, we tasted the range of biodynamic wines.  To start, the Petit Chablis "Les Plantes", followed by the wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey, the Chablis "Boissonneuse".  We then moved on to the Chablis Premier Cru "Vaulorent" and the Chablis Grand Cru "Les Preuses" before sitting down to lunch with a few other Chablis and Irancy wines.

Wine Tasting in Chablis

The afternoon started in the cellar where Pierre presented us the exposed cut of earth that shows the uniqueness of the Kimmeridgian stone that Chablis wines gain much of their characteristics from.

In the cellar

We then headed to the cuverie.  Here, we saw the different types of vats that used to vinify and age the wines.  Pierre introduced us to some of the choices the winemaker must take to age the wines, something that we will go into much more detail during the Vinification Experience Days.

Fermentation Hall

Very many thanks to all our clients who participated in the days.  We hope that you left appreciating a little more about the fascinating and passionate profession of winemaking!

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Oenology Course in Chablis


Last Sunday we were at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Burgundy for a Vinification Experience Day.  During this hands-on wine course, we learnt more about the key stages in making wine that happen between harvest time and bottling.

The day started down in the cellar where one of the walls has been left bare.  Here you can clearly see the strata of kimmeridgian soil and rock that help to give Chablis wines their unique taste.

Wine Experience Gift in Chablis, Burgundy. Visit the winery and discover the terroir

We then headed outside and followed the same path as the grapes take during the harvest to arrive at the fermentation hall.  Pierre showed us the presses that are used to extract the juice from the grapes, and explained how the juice in transferred to the vats, and the sugar turned into alcohol.

Original wine gift for a wine lover. Hands-on vineyard visit in Chablie. Wine Press.

The wine that is made from the Boissonneuse vineyard, the plot chosen by Gourmet Odyssey, is vinified in 3 different vats.  We stopped at each one to taste the 2012 vintage to see how it has been getting on since we harvested the grapes in October.  It's interesting to see how each vat has evolved differently, with one being much further behind than the other two.

Wine tasting gift Chablis, France. Tasting the wine directly from the fermentation tank.

In the next door hall, Pierre showed us the machines and the line that is used to bottle the wine.  After the wine is bottled, it is then passed through the labelling machine before being put into the cases and dispatched to the four corners of the globe.

The bottling line

Back at the winery, we started the first of the workshops.  Often, one of the most difficult things when tasting wine is to find the right words to describe the sensations that you are feeling.  We set up an exercise using flasks containing different smells to help us identify the variety of aromas that can be found in white wine.

Oenology gift. Nez du Vin aroma wine course.

The tongue also helps us when tasting, and different zones are sensitive to different tastes.  During the second workshop we tasted five different types of water; a control test, and one each that had had an acidic, bitter, sweet and salty flavour added to it.

By this stage, we had earned our right to start tasting some finished wines!  Pierre had prepared a few different series of wines to help us appreciate different characteristics.  We started with a blind tasting of the three different white grape varieties used at the winery, Aligoté, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine Tasting Gift in Chablis, France. Tasting the different styles of Chablis wines.

We tasted others series of wines to identify wines aged in stainless steel vats and in wooden casks, and how to identify a corked wine.

We continued the tasting over lunch with a Boissonneuse 2010 and 2003 to get an idea of how a wine ages, and we also tasted a magnum of one of the red wines made by the winery, the Irancy "Les Mazelots".

Some fresh air was in order after lunch, so we headed over to the Boissonneuse vineyard where the adopted vines are located.

Adopt-a-vine wine gift experience Chablis, France. Adopt a row of vines.

We finished the day with a visit of the old fermentation hall where some of the more prestigious wines are aged in oak casks and barrels.  We also had one last tasting in store - that of two lots of the Boissonneuse 2011 which will very shortly be blended and bottled.  We tasted each wine separately before blending the two together in a measuring cylinder.

Wine making experience gift in Chablis. Visit the oak casks in the fermentation hall.

So lots of discussion and lots of tasting!  We hope that the day taught gave a little more insight into the life of a winemaker and the important choices to be made during the winemaking process.

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Harvest Experience Day in Chablis


Last weekend we were in Chablis with some of our Wine Experience clients for the Harvest Experience Days.  We followed the grapes journey from the vine to the fermentation tank!

Adopt a vine Gift. Harvest Experience day at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis, France

We started the day in the vineyard, where we received our instructions on which grapes to harvest and which to leave.

Harvest Experience Gift for wine lovers. Harvest your own grapes in the vineyard.

Having been issued with our pair of secateurs and bucket, we spread out in twos between the vine rows to start harvesting.  The grapes this year in Chablis are very healthy and the buckets were quickly filled.  It wasn't long before the cries of "Porter" started ringing out in the vineyard.

Porter emptying his basket into the trailer

We took it in turns to be a porter.  Carrying a basket on our back, we went back and forth between the harvesters and the awaiting trailer.

Wine Tasting session of the estate's Chablis wines

A few hours harvesting makes for thirsty work, and we had well earnt our wine tasting at lunchtime!  We started with a Petit Chablis, and then tasted a few different Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru before finishing with a Chablis Grand Cru Valmur.  The tasting of the estate's wines continued over lunch.

Photo session of the adopted vines

In the afternoon we went to the Boissonneuse vineyard where the adopted vines are located.  We took a few minutes to take a few souvenir pictures!

The harvesting machine

On the Saturday afternoon, some harvesting machines were in operation nearby, so went and took a closer look!

Loading the harvested grapes into the press

Back at the winery, we went to the cuverie to pick up the trail of the harvest.   The grapes are loaded into a press which then extracts the juice form the each berry.

The fermentation tanks

We then followed the pipes to the fermentation tank where the juice will start its transformation into wine.  Here we learnt how the sugar will be broken down and turned into alcohol overt the coming weeks and months.

Tasting the grape juice

A final tasting to end the day - this time the juice from our harvest.  At first sight, it's not the most appealing of prospects as you look at a murky brown liquid, but even those who hesitated to try were agreeably surprised! Sweet with a fresh taste, we just have to wait patiently until next winter until the wine will finally be ready!

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Debudding and Biodynamics in Chablis


Last weekend we were once again in Chablis for a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Discovery Day. On the agenda: working in the vineyard, the difference between organic and biodynamic farming, and an introduction to the vinification side of things. 

Chablis Vineyard Vines Wine Making

The day started in the "Boissonneuse" vineyard plot, where the adopted vines of our clients are located. Once the photos in front of the vines were taken, we were quickly able to get straight into the heart of things to better understand the key stages in cultivating the vines.

Chablis Brocard Vines Wine 

To explain to us the work carried out in the vineyard, we were accompanied by Andrew from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  He took up from after last year's harvest, describing the steps that have already been taken before revealing the task that he had saved for us, de-budding.

De-budding is an important job at this time of year that will improve the quality of the grapes to come. It entails removing the non fruit-bearing shoots and double buds so as to better concentrate the vine's energy. Andrew showed us how it's done, and then we spread out among the rows to give it a go!  We found ourselves surrounded by vines for as far as the eye can see, which helped us appreciate the enormity of the effort that is taken in looking after the vines. 

De-budding Vines Vineyard 

The Boissonneuse vineyard is not only cultivated organically, but is also biodynamically certified by Demeter. We headed to the domaine's priory, where we were joind by Julien Brocard, son of Jean-Marc, who initiated and developed biodynamic farming on the estate.  

Biodynamic farming 

Julien explained to us what biodynamics is, and how it is different from organic farming, before talking in more detail about one of the core treatments used in biodynamic farming, the Preparation 500. For the past 6 months, several hundred cow horns, filled with cow dung have been buried in the priory's garden. During this time, the cow dung has been transformed into super concentrated humus of a high quality. At this time of year the cow horns are dug up, and the humus that is collected is then mixed with rainwater and sprayed on the vines to improve their strength and well-being.

Biodynamie 

Back at the winery, the time had finally come to taste the wines. Pierre served us a wide range of the estate's wines, starting with the Petit Chablis, before moving on to several Chablis and Chablis Premier Crus, before ending with a couple of Chablis Grand Cru. 

Wine Tasting Chablis Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard 

After lunch, we returned to the vineyard, where Andrew took us through the work that will be carried out on the vines between now and the harvest. 

Vineyard Winemaker Vines 

The day ended in the winery building where the grapes will be received during the harvest, the juice fermented, and the wine aged.

Many thanks to Julien, Pierre and Andrew for having given us an enlightening glimpse into the world of a winemaker!

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Wine course in Chablis


Last weekend we finished the series of Wine Experience Days for the 2011 vintage at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis.   The weekend was dedicated to the Vinification Experience Day, where we learn about wine making by following the wine's progress since the harvest back in September.

Wine Experience Gift and wine course in Chablis at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

The day started in the fermentation hall, where Pierre explained how the grape juice is transformed into wine.  We saw the two vats that are currently ageing our vintage of the Boissonneuse!

Fermentation vats in the fermetation hall
We then headed into the hall where the wine is bottled, labelled and put into the crates.  As you would imagine with a winery the size of Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, all is exceptionally well organised and laid out to work as efficiently as possible.
Wine bottling machine

Back in the main building, we participated in a couple of workshops to hone our tasting skills.  One of the most difficult things when tasting wines is often to find the words to describe them.  Why do we like or not like them?

The first workshop was dedicated to the nose.  With the help of some small jars, we had to find the aromas most often found in white wines.  Not so easy, especially to correctly identify aromas from the same family of smells apart.  We learnt how to differentiate aromas that come from the fruit from those that are a result of the way in which the wine has been aged.

Identifying the main aromas found in white wine

The next exercise had us working our mouths with a blind tasting of 4 different solutions; bitter, sweet, salty and acidic.  Each taste plays on a different area of the tongue, which helped us to identify each solution.

Tasting sugar, acid, bitter and salt solutions

But enough of the exercises, the time had come to talk about real wines!  We tasted a number of different series of wines to differentiate between grape varietals, terroir, vintages and the methods used to make each wine.

Tasting the Chablis Wines

After the meal, we headed out amongst the vines to get some fresh air and to enjoy the warm sunshine.  We stopped in the vineyard where the adopted vines are located so that we could each take a photo in front of our vines!

Photo call in front of the adopted vines!

A final tasting session awaited us at the end of the day, that of our special vintage of Chablis 2011.

Tasting the unfinished 2011 vintage

We tasted the two vats of the Boissonneuse separately, and then we made a blend to give us a better idea of how the 2011 will eventually reveal itself.  It still needs more time to round out, but we could already see that it has good potential!

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