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Tagged articles : Vinification

Vinification and blending of wines in the Languedoc


The sun was awaiting the participants at Domaine Allegria for the Vinification Experience Day, the last of the wine experience days for the adoptive vine parents of the 2016 vintage.  The aim of the day was to discover what happens in the cellar after the grapes have been picked at harvest time up until the wine is ready for being bottled.

  Wine gift box to adopt vines in a Languedoc vineyard, France

We started the day with a quick visit to the vineyard to see our adopted vines, where we took a few souvenir photos.  We also learnt about what has been happening in the vineyard at the moment, what work has been done since last year’s harvest, and how the vines have come back to life in the spring.

Vineyard tour at Domaine Allegria Languedoc France

We learnt how the vines had been pruned, a long task that had finished three weeks earlier. The cut branches had then been pulled from the vines and left between the rows to be crushed.

Vine-adoption as a wine gift box in France

When we returned from the vineyard, we visited the cellar from top to bottom.  The questions flowed.  What is a wine without sulphites, why do you use selected yeasts, and many more such topics.  We talked in detail about the different processes between making red and white wine.

We then tested our sense of smell with the help of 12 bottles containing different aromas.  This exercise would help us find some of the words to describe the wines that we were to taste later. 

Lunch was served in the sun on the terrace.  The winery’s rosé Dolce Vita 2016 wine was served in a jeroboam for the aperitif.  We tasted different wines, paired with local charcuterie and a lentil salad; the Cinsault Abuelo 2015, a Carignan Gourmand 2015, and the Cousu Main 2013 in a magnum.  With the goat’s cheese from the nearby Mas Roland, we tasted the Tribu d’A white 2015, which goes perfectly with cheese.  We finished the meal with the Grande Cuvée La Belle Histoire 2015, a great vintage for Languedoc wines.  With the delicious almond cake and profiteroles, we enjoyed a coffee.

Wine-tasting at the winery, Pézenas, Languedoc, France

After lunch, we returned to the cellar to taste three of the wines from the 2016 vintage that are still in the ageing process.  Each of the wines was of a different grape varietal, enabling us to learn the different characteristics of Cinsalut, Syrah and Mourvèdre.  The wines are still young, and full of carbon dioxide following the fermentation.  But they were also very soft considering the stage that they are at, and already enjoyable to drink.

Having tasted these different wines, the next exercise was to have a go at blending them together.  We learnt that blending the different grape varietals together gives a deeper and more complex final wine.
By the end of the day, we had learnt many new things about wine, and will have a few stories to recount when we open the next bottle!

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Wine-making in the Côtes du Rhône region at Domaine la Cabotte


Today is a festival for our taste buds! We're going to taste and re-taste all of the wines at Domaine la Cabotte in the Côtes du Rhône Massif d'Uchaux region during a Gourmet Odyssey Vinification Experience Day.

The 2016 vintage wines are still slowly finishing the vinification process in the vats. The weather is a little unstable, and the arrival of the rain sees the participants put on our boots. The vines are delighted and all of the young buds get ready to soak up this lovely spring rain.

Adopt-a-vine gift box in a French vineyard

Marie-Pierre and Eric, the owners take us to meet our adopted Grenache vines that are used in making the Garance wine. The cameras come out and click away to immortalise the moment.

As the first drops of rain start to fall, we head for cover in the chai. Here, Marie-Pierre had prepared a long table with wine glasses, bottles and spittoons. We each take a seat as Eric explains how the grapes are transformed into wine.

Oenology course in the Rhone Valley France

The questions flow and we cover lots of topics. We learn about the fundamental role of yeast, which is naturally present on the grape skins, and turns the sugar into alcohol. Each vat of wine ferments at its own pace, one of the wonderful mysteries of wine-making. We taste different wines that are still ageing to appreciate for ourselves how they are each developing.

Wine tasting and visit of the winery in Mondragon, France

We then head to the caveau to put our noses to the test. We try and identify the floral and fruity aromas that can be found in wine: blackcurrant, lime tree, blackberry chocolate truffle, raspberry, lemon, honey etc...

Aroma workshop as a wine gift in a French winery

There are two or three "noses" in the group who are very good at naming the different aromas, but for the majority of us, it's more difficult to put a name to them. That is until we're told what the smell is, and we hear a chorus of "of course it is!"

Winemaker lunch with wine pairing Domaien la Cabotte France

It is now lunch time, and we sit down to enjoy a pork confit, local goat's cheese and dessert. Each dish is accompanied by different wines, and we enjoy our glasses of Clairette, Colline, Gabriel, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Organic vineyard visit in the Rhone Valley France

In the afternoon the sky clears, and Eric takes us on a walk around the vineyard to better understand the Massif d'Uchaux terroir and its influence on the wine's style. The ground is very rocky and the vines share the plateau with trees and scrubland, giving the wine both complexity and freshness.

The day draws to a close, and we look back on the variety of tastes and smells that we have enjoyed and discovered. We also load the car boots up with a few bottles of our favourite wines to take a little piece of Domaine la Cabotte home with us!

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Wine-making gift experience in the Loire Valley


Last weekend, we participated in the first Vinification Experience Days of the year at Château de la Bonnelière.  The programme for the day was to learn about the work involved to vinify and age the wine after the harvest and up until the wine is ready for bottling.  As we were to discover, there is much to do, and there are many decisions to be taken by Marc Plouzeau, the owner and winemaker!

The day started with a welcome coffee or cup of tea, whilst Marc recounted the history of the winery and brought us up to speed on the work in the vineyard since the last harvest.

Visiting our adopted vines

We ventured out into the vineyard to pay a visit to our adopted vines.  They had been pruned at the start of the winter, but the cut branches hadn’t yet been pulled clear of the training wires, giving some the occasion to have a go at this fairly physical activity!

We then divided into two groups, one going with Marc to the chai, and the other heading to a workshop to train our senses to help us better taste wines.

Marc explains the vinification process in the chai

In the chai, Marc gave us an insight into the world of vinification and his chosen way for making wine.  He uses gravity to put the grapes into the vats to best avoid any damage to the grapes.  He then closely monitors the wines to control the fermentation process, and then chooses how to age the wines, either in vats or in different types of oak barrels.

Putting our noses to the test in the aroma workshop

In the caveau, we put our noses to work!  Wine gives off lots of different aromas that we can put into three categories.  The primary aromas are linked to the grape varietal, the secondary aromas to the way in which the wine is vinified, and the tertiary aromas from the way that the wine is aged.  We tried to identify different aromas to help us prepare for the wine tasting to follow.

Lunch prepared by Mme Plouzeau

After this full morning, it was the time for lunch.  A lovely meal, prepared by Mme Plouzeau, was accompanied by wines from the winery, including an avant-première tasting of Marc’s latest wine, “Silice”, a Chinon white which paired perfectly with the starter.

We continued the day with a visit to the cellar underneath the Chinon fortress where the wines are aged.

This magical place is a large cave, forming one of many underground galleries beneath the streets of Chinon.  It was from here that the stone was extracted to build the castle above.  The cellar has been in the family for 3 generations and Marc uses it to age his wines in oak barrels.

In the cellar beneath the Chinon fortress to taste the wines that are still ageing

We had the good fortune to taste a number of different wines that are still in the ageing process.  This is an unconventional way to taste wines as they have yet to reach their maturity and so you have to try and imagine what they might become in a few months or even years time!  As we were to find out, some of the wines still have many months to go before their tannic structure softens.

And so the day drew to a close after this wine tasting full of potential and promise.  We now have to wait patiently until the Clos de la Bonnelière will be ready for bottling!

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Learning about the winemaker’s work in the cellar


The 2017 Wine Experience Days got underway last weekend in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle with a couple of great Vinification Experience Days with the clients of the 2016 vintage.  The aim of this wine course spent at the winery is to learn all about the work in the cellar and the choices that the winemaker takes to make the wine between the harvest and the time that it is ready for bottling.  As we were to learn, the winemaker’s job is far from finished once the grapes have been harvested.

Organic wine-making experience gift in Burgundy France

The days were split into different workshops.  After the introductions, one group followed Jean-François Chapelle into the fermentation hall.  Here he explained how the grapes are received during the harvest and then put into the vats.  We learnt about the fermentation process and how the winemakers closely monitor and control it to ensure that it takes place in the optimal conditions.  Jean-François explained the difference between the “vin de goutte” and the “vin de presse”, and the differences in making white and red wine.

Original wine gift for a birthday, retirement or wedding.  Follow the making of your own organic French wine

After the first fermentation has finished and the wine has been racked, the majority of the red wines at Domaine Chapelle, including the Clos des Cornières red wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, are moved to the underground cellar to continue their ageing in the oak barrels.

Winery and cellar tour gift in Burgundy, France

Amongst the barrels, Jean-François explained how the wine loses some of its acidity during the malo-lactic fermentation and let us in on the choices that he makes regarding the different types of barrel used.  To better understand the role that the barrels play in making wine, we tasted some wines directly from the barrel to compare the difference between new and old barrels. The same wine had been put into the barrels, so the only difference was the barrel.  It’s amazing to see how the aromas and taste vary.  The questions abounded, and we covered many topics from chaptalisation, the levels of sulphites added, and the different methods used to close the bottles.

Wine-tasting experience gift in a French organic winery

Upstairs, another workshop run by Yvette Chapelle prepared us to better taste wine by putting or senses to the test.  Using small bottles containing different aromas found in red wine, we had a go at trying to identify the individual smells.  Not as easy as you would at first think!

Oenology gift for wine lovers.  Learn how to taste wines from the winemakers themselves

We then tasted four different cups containing a saline, sweet, acidic and bitter solution to appreciate how they feel differently in the mouth.

After the morning’s full programme, we made the most of the glorious sunshine and enjoyed a glass of Santenay St Jean 2015 white wine in the courtyard whilst Jean-François answered more of our questions.

Wine enthusiast gift

Over lunch, we continued the wine tasting with some of the red Burgundy wines, starting with the Santenay Clos des Cornières 2012, followed by the Santenay La Comme premier cru 2014, and finishing with the Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot premier cru red wine.
We started the afternoon in the Clos des Cornières vineyard to visit our adopted vines.  They were revelling in the sunshine and were only too happy to have their photo taken with their adoptive owners!

Rent-a-vine gift in an organic French vineyard

Jean-François then explained the different geology of the surrounding vineyards and how that determines the AOC classification system of Burgundy and Santenay wines.  He pointed out the three distinct areas of our Clos des Cornières vineyard, knowledge we needed for the final wine tasting of the day.

Back in the courtyard, we tasted the three different wines from the Clos de Cornières vineyard that are vinified separately and are only blended together shortly before bottling.  This enabled us to see the difference that the age of a vine plays, and to get a sneak preview of the potential of the 2016 vintage.  The wines were at different stages of the malo-lactic fermentation process, so also enabled us to see how they change.

Wine-making experience present in Burgundy, France

And so the day drew to a close.  Many thanks to Jean-François and Yvette for sharing their passion for winemaking with us, and to all of the participants for making it such a great weekend!

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Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


For your Christmas gifts, there are now just two weeks left to go.  If you are looking for an original Christmas gift for a wine lover, the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Christmas gift packs can be delivered for orders received up to the 20th December for deliveries outside of France and the 21st December for mainland France.  For the really last minute gifts, an email version of the certificate can be sent for orders received up to 12:30 on the 24th December, and the welcome pack will follow after Christmas.

Last minute Christmas gift for wine lovers.  Adopt-a-vine in France.

To surprise a wine lover this Christmas, adopt some vines for their Christmas present.  You can choose from our 8 partner wineries, all of which are organically certified.   For a wine-making year, they will follow the making of their organic wine, right up until the bottling of their personalised wine bottles at the end of the experience.

Wine Experience Christmas Gift.  Rent a vine in France and make your personalised bottles of wine

And to make the wine gift more hands on, you can add a Discovery Experience Day in the vineyard with the winemaker to learn all about the work on the vines to prepare them for harvest.  Or you can include a Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the fermentation tanks or a Vinification Experience Day to learn about what happens to the wine once it is in the cellar.  All of the days take place from 09:30 to 16:00, and allow a total immersion into the life of a winemaker by getting involved in the work and by sharing a meal and tasting the wines.

Last minute Christmas gift for wine lovers.  Make your own-labeled bottles of wine

All of our partner vineyards are organically or biodynamically certified, and all of our winemakers are selected for being passionate about their profession.  They will welcome you with open arms to share their knowledge and passion!

Wine experience gift in a French organic vineyard.

Our personalised Christmas wine gift boxes are sure to delight, and the welcome gift pack includes some presents to use straight away, a wine cooler bag, a re-usable glass wine stopper, a DropStop to make sure you don’t spill any of your precious wine, and a personalised vine adoption certificate.

 

More information on 2016 Christmas deliveries
More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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The 2017 wine guides reward our partner winemakers


With the recent launch of the 2017 wine guides, Gourmet Odyssey's partner winemakers have once again been selected by France's most renowned wine critics and rewarded for the quality of their wines. Here is an overview of the mentions that our partner winemakers received.

Château de la Bonnelière

Château de la Bonnelière, near Chinon in the Loire Valley, received a rating of 15.5/20 in the Bettane + Desseauve wine guide for the 2014 vintage of the Clos de la Bonnelière.  This is the red wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey for the adopt-a-vine Wine Experience.

And many more of their wines were also mentioned in the guide, such as the Clos des Roches Saint-Paul 2014, the Chapelle 2014, and the Rive Gauche 2015.

 

Domaine Chapelle

Domaine Chapelle in the picturesque Burgundy village of Santenay had two of their wines selected for the 2017 Guide Hachette; Les Petites Lolières 2013 Aloxe Corton Premier Cru red wine and the Saint-Jean 2014 Santenay white wine who has “an intense nose of white flowers and yellow fruits, and a smooth, buttery finish on the palate with a good mineral freshness.”

 

Domaine la Cabotte

In the Rhone Valley, Domaine la Cabotte was also honoured.  Their Garance wine, the organic red wine also chosen by Gourmet Odyssey for the Wine Experience, was chosen by the Bettane+Desseauve wine guide, receiving a rating of 12.5/20 for the 2014 vintage. 

The wine was also selected for the Guide Hachette in which they described it as having “a harmonious nose with lovely black fruit, violet and spice aromas.  It is well balanced on the palate, at first smooth, but then becoming stronger with a lengthy finish.  Good potential.”

 

Domaine Stentz-Buecher

Domaine Stentz-Buecher in Wettolsheim, Alsace also had a number of their wines chosen for the Bettane + Desseauve 2017 wine guide.  The Who Am I? 2014 was rated 16/20, the Riesling Tannenbuehl Flavien 2014 received 13/20 and the Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2014 scored 16/20.

 

Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard

In Chablis, the wines from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard were chosen multiple times in the different guides.  The Bettane + Desseauve 2017 wine guide included the Chablis Côte de Lechet Premier Cru 2014 and the Chablis Montmains Premier Cru  2015 wines among their top picks.

In the Meilleurs Vins de France wine guide, the Chablis Sainte-Claire, which was recently selected by Gourmet Odyssey, was the star.  It was rated 14.5/20 and described as being “fine and distinctive with a nice freshness.”  

So another nice spread of awards this year to recognise the hard work and talent of our partner winemakers.  Well done!

Other related articles

Congratulations to our medal winning winemakers at Challenge Millésime Bio
Our partner winemakers selected for the 2016 wine guides

 

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Just a few weeks left to find the perfect gift for Father’s Day


An original gift that is personalised, fun, organic and participative... If these are your criteria for an ideal Father's Day gift and your dad is a wine lover, then Gourmet Odyssey has the perfect wine present for you. Adopt some organic vines in France and give an unforgettable Wine Experience gift.

More than just a wine course or wine tasting gift. By adopting some vines, your dad will become an apprentice winemaker and follow the making of his own organic wine at one of our partner wineries in France.

Learning how to prune vines during a day at the winery

Our Wine Experience gift pack will allow your dad to keep up to date with the news and work at his winery, and keep track of what his happening to his adopted vines via the newsletters and photos. At the end of the wine-making year, your father will receive a bottle of wine for each adopted vine. He can even choose the name of his wine and personalise the wine labels!

Wine gift box to harvest one's own vines

And for an even more participative experience, include one or more of the days at the winery to meet the winemakers, see the adopted vines, and get involved in working in the vineyard, the harvest, or one of the wine-making workshops.

Adopt-a-vine gift for Fathers' Day

Each day is a full day, lasting between 09:30 and 16:00, and includes lunch and a tasting of the wines from the winery. They are each valid for two people, so your dad will get to share a good moment over a glass or two of wine!

All of our partner wineries are chosen for the quality of their wine, the passion of the winemakers in sharing and talking about the art of winemaking, and they are all organically or biodynamically certified.

To have something for your Dad to open on Father's day, each gift pack contains a sommelier's apron, a DropStop, and vine adoption certificate. Standard delivery takes two working days in France, and between 3 and 6 days for the rest of Europe. For last minute Father's Day gifts, we can also send a copy of the adoption certificate by email .

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Organic wine-making course in Alsace at Domaine Stentz-Buecher


Once the grapes are harvested, the work of the winemaker is far from over.  There is still much to do during the fermentation and ageing stages before the wine is finally ready to be bottled, and this is what we were gathered at Domaine Stentz-Buecher in Alsace to find out during the Vinification Experience Day.

The quality of the wine depends also on the work carried out in the vineyard, and so after the introductions, we headed to the Rosenberg vineyard, to see where our adopted vines are located and to get a better understanding of the local terroir. Céline pointed out the different plots of Grand Cru vines around us, and we also took a few minutes to take some pictures of our adopted vines.

Rent-a-vine-giftin Alsace, France

We were also accompanied by Jean-Jacques, Céline’s father, who founded the winery with his wife, Simone, in 1975.  With the hot weather of the past few days, the vines have sprung to life and Jean-Jacques briefly explained the work that will shortly be keeping them busy to de-bud the vines.

But the principal purpose of the day was to learn about the wine-making side of things, so we headed back to the winery.  To prepare us for the different wines that we would taste throughout the day, the first workshop was designed to develop our senses and help us describe our appreciation of the wines.  We talked about how the different senses can be used to help us identify the characteristics of the wines, and we put our noses to the test to try and name some of the aromas that can be found in white wine.  Not always as easy as you would think!

Oenology gift for wine lovers.

We then descended into the cellar with Stéphane, who manages the wine-making process at the winery.  He talked to us about how the grapes are received and pressed at harvest time and how the fermentation process then transforms the sugar into alcohol.

We had the chance to taste the 2015 vintage of our Pinot Gris Rosenberg wine directly from the cask, and to get a first impression of the potential for our wine.  The wine had finished its malo-lactic fermentation and was very concentrated both aromatically and on the palate.  Very promising t this stage!

Organic wine tasting gift experience in an organic Alsace winery

Stéphane then took us into the barrel room and talked to us about the difference in vinifying and ageing red wines.  We tasted a wine made from Pinot Noir grapes that those of us that had participated in the Harvest Experience Day had helped to pick.

Wine-making gift experience with the winemaker

Alsace is a wine-growing region where, for the most part, the wines are defined by their grape varietal and the terroir in which the vines are located.  To better understand these differences, there’s no better way than to taste the wines!

To start with, a blind tasting test of three different wines, where we had to identify three different grape varietals.  In the second series, we again tasted three different wines, but this time each were Riesling wines, the only difference being the terroir.  The first wine was a Riesling Tradition wine that had been blended from different plots, the second a Riesling Ortel that contains the grapes from one single vineyard, and the third a Riesling Steingrubler Grand Cru, from one of Alsace’s most sought after vineyards.

Wine tasting course in Alsace with the winemaker

We then tasted a Crémant d’Alsace with a savoury Kouglopf before sitting down to lunch where we tasted some more of the wines produced by the winery.

In the afternoon, we returned to the cellar, and saw the where the wines are bottled and labelled and talked more about the choices of the winemaker in using cork or alternatives.  Time for a few more questions, and the day drew to a close.

Winery tour and visit in Alsace, France

Many thanks to all the participants for a very interactive and lively day, and of course to the Stentz-Buecher family for welcoming us and sharing their passion for winemaking.

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Original Mother’s Day Gift. Adopt some organic vines in France.


The annual quest to find an original Mother’s Day present is once again upon us.  If your mum is a wine lover, we might have the perfect gift for her.  Adopt some vines in France in an organic French vineyard, and she’ll get to follow the making of her own organic wine from the work in the vineyard to the bottling of her own personalised bottles of wine.

Original Mother’s Day Gift. Adopt some organic vines in France. 
The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience is a great Mother’s Day gift idea that will let her in behind the scenes to learn all about the art of winemaking.  She’ll receive an adopt-a-vine welcome gift pack to have something to open straight away, and then thanks to the newsletters and photos from the winemaker, she’ll follow all the key stages in the vineyard and cellar, and will be able to personalise the labels for her bottles of wine.

And if you think she’ll enjoy a short break in France to explore one of France’s wine growing regions, and actually get involved in helping to make her wine, you can include, or she can add at a later date, a Discovery, Harvest or Vinification Experience Day at her chosen winery.  Each Experience Day is valid for two people, with a winemaker’s lunch of regional delicacies and wine tasting included.

All of our partner wineries are organically certified, and are selected for the quality of their wine and the enthusiasm of the winemakers to share their passion for wine and how it is made.  One thing is for sure.  At the end of her Wine Experience gift, your Mum will appreciate wine in a whole new light, once she has learnt about all of the hard work, skill, love and effort that has gone into making her personalised bottles of wine.

Our welcome gift packs are delivered within two working days in France and 2-5 days for the rest of Europe depending on the country and delivery option selected.  For those last minute Mother’s Day gifts, a personalised adopt-a-vine certificate can be emailed.

So go on, and spoil your Mum this year with her own mini plot of vines in France.  It’s sure to be a Mother’s Day gift that she won’t be expecting!

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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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Last minute Christmas gifts for wine lovers


There's just two weeks of shopping to go until Christmas, but luckily if you haven't yet finished (or even started !) buying your Christmas presents, the Gourmet Odyssey gift packs are available to be sent up to 12:30 Paris time on the 22nd December, depending on the destination country. For the very last minute gifts, we can also send a certificate by email for all orders received by 12:30 on the 24th December, and we'll post the welcome pack to arrive shortly after Christmas. Here are a few Christmas gift ideas for wine lovers.

Adopt some vines this Christmas for someone close in one of our 7 organic partner vineyards in France. For a winemaking year, they'll follow the evolution of their wine and will end up with their own personalised bottles of wine.

Participate in the harvest in a French vineyard

To complete this gift idea, you can also include one or more of the 3 Wine Experience Days at the winery. Participate in the work in the vineyard to help produce the best quality grapes during a Discovery Experience Day, or join the Harvest Experience Day to pick the grapes and follow their journey into the vat. The third option is the Vinification Experience Day to learn about the work in the cellar to ferment, age and blend the wines. Each day allows you to get involved in the work of the winemaker, to share a meal and taste wines from the winery.

The winemakers' lunch and wine tasting during the Experience Days

All of our partner winemakers are organically certified and are passionate about their profession. They'll welcome you with pleasure and will let you in behind the scenes to learn more about the fascinating world of wine.

This unique and authentic approach to wine makes a great personalised Christmas gift. To have something to put underneath the Christmas tree and open on Christmas day, the welcome pack contains a sommelier's apron, a DropStop, personalised certificate and more information about the chosen experience.

 

More information on Christmas delivery times

More information on the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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Adopt vines in France for an original wedding gift


It's the height of wedding season, and with it comes the search for that original wedding present idea. If wine is a passion of the wedding couple, and you are looking for a personalised wine gift that lasts, adopt a plot of vines for them in France!

One of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience gifts will enable the newlyweds to understand all of the work that the winemaker undertakes in the vineyard and the cellar when making their personalised bottles of wine. They will follow all of the key stages via newsletters and photos as their vintage unfolds.

 

Wine making course as an orignal wedding gift

The newlyweds can roll up their sleeves and get involved themselves if you include in their Wine Experience one of the Discovery, Harvest or Vinification Experience Days. They'll get to visit one of our seven partner vineyards to participate in the pruning, de-budding, harvesting or discovering the art of ageing and blending wines in the cellar. The winemakers will be there to explain their work, share their passion, and of course to let you taste their wines during the winemakers meal.

All of our partner wineries are organically certified, and are chosen for the quality of their wines, and the enthusiasm of the winemakers in explaining the intricacies of their profession. This means that the newlyweds will embark on an unforgettable experience to follow the making of their wine, from the same year as their wedding.

 

Orginal wine making gift box for a wedding

The welcome gift packs are delivered in 2 to 4 working days depending on the country of delivery, and for any last minute gifts, we can email the adoption certificate ahead of the welcome pack.

The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience is an original idea for a wedding present for wine lovers and those curious to learn the secrets behind making a quality wine. An original wine gift that will last long in the memory.

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Blending wine in Bordeaux


We spent a sunny weekend in Bordeaux for the last of the 2013 vintage Vinification Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage. The aim of this wine course is to better understand the vinification, ageing and blending of wine. As we were to find out, the work of the winemaker is far from over once the grapes have entered the chai at harvest time!

To start talking about the fermentation and vinification stages, there is no better place than the chai, and it was here that Christine Nadalié, the winemaker at Château Beau Rivage, explained all about the alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation.

Wine making : alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation

Christine comes from a family of coopers and as she says, she fell into a barrel at a very young age! The barrel room at the winery is very impressive, and Christine talks with as much passion about her barrels as she does her wines. She explained the importance of the source of the oak used for the barrels and the different toasts that are used to influence the structure of the wine. With the stirring of the lees, topping up the angel's share, and racking the barrels, there's more than enough to keep the maitre de chai busy!

winery visit Bordeaux Château Beau Rivage

We then took a few minutes to venture into the vineyard and enjoy the sunshine. With a week to go before Easter, instead of hunting for the Easter eggs, we searched for the adopted vines!

vine adoption Bordeaux France

The Vinification Experience Day is the course where we taste the most wine. To better prepare us for the wine tastings, we organised a workshop to identify the aromas found in wine. When tasting wines, finding the words to describe our impressions is often the most difficult thing.

wine aromas tasting Bordeaux workshop

The first tasting was blind, and we had to find the difference between two wines. They were both however identical wines, the only difference being the type of barrel that they had been aged in. The comparison showed us the aromatic and difference in taste of a wine aged in French oak and a wine aged in American oak.

wine tasting at the winery in Bordeaux

At lunchtime, we dined in the 1902 restaurant, located at the family cooperage. During the meal we tasted wines from the range made by Christine.

Blending wines is a true art form, and we set aside the afternoon to better understand it. First of all, we tasted wines from four different grape varietals separately - merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot to appreciate the characteristics of each.

wine blending in Bordeaux France

We then made several blends to see how the wine changes when different combinations of grape varietals are used. Even a small change in percentage can have a big impact on the final wine. We gradually honed our blends to try and find the best wine.

Many thanks to Christine and Guillaume from Château Beau Rivage for sharing their passion for their profession with us, and to all of the participants for their enthusiasm. We now just have to wait patiently as we give the wine the time to age sufficiently before knowing the blend that Christine will choose for our cuvée!

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2013 Vintage. Vinification and ageing of wine


At this time of year, the vines are nearing the end of their winter rest. The winemakers are finishing preparing the vineyards for the 2014 vintage, and are busy attending wine fairs to showcase their 2011 and 2012 wines. But what's happening in the cellar with the 2013 vintage?
harvest chai grapes Bordeaux

 

As soon as the grapes are harvested, they start the vinification process to extract the different compounds from the grapes and to optimise the quality of the wine produced. Once the grapes are brought to the chai from the vineyard, the grape must starts to ferment to transform the sugar into alcohol with the help of yeast. The juice then becomes wine. Often a second fermentation then takes place to turn the malic acid into lactic acid, making the wine rounder and softer. The wine then enters the ageing period in vats or oak barrels.

winery tank red wine Burgundy

The general principle seems fairly straightforward, but there are different processes according to grape varietal, colour and wine producing regions. And at each step, the winemaker takes decisions that are crucial in influencing the aroma and taste of the wine. These choices are personal and so there are as many different ways of vinifying and ageing wine as there are winemakers!

Without going into specific vinification details for rosé, sparkling or sweet wines, there are two principal details for vinifying white and red wines.

wine press white wine Alsace

First the white wines. Once the grapes have been picked and sorted, and have arrived in the chai, they are put into a wine press to extract the juice from the grapes. The time that the pulp and grape skins are in contact with each other is very short for white wine, explaining why the wine is lightly coloured. Next the juice is clarified by removing the solid particles present in the must, such as skin, pip or stalk particles. This is done by letting the particles settle or by centrifuge. The juice then ferments to become wine and enters the ageing phase which can be just a few weeks or a few years for wines that are made for keeping. Ageing can be in barrels or vats.

For the red wines, the process is slightly different. Once the grapes have been picked and sorted, they are put into a vat, either whole or having been separated from the stems. Sometimes the grapes are lightly crushed to set free some of the must. In the vat the grapes are left to macerate so that the juice can extract the tannins and colour from the skin and pips.

wine bottles cellar Burgundy

The alcoholic fermentation starts at the same time and generally lasts between one and three weeks. Once it has finished we draw off the liquid. The remaining solid matter is known as marc and is then pressed to extract the wine that has been soaked into it. This is known as press wine, and the winemaker can choose whether or not to blend it with the rest of the wine. The wine is then left to finish the fermentation, alcoholic and malo-lactic, before being aged in barrels or vats.

wine ageing in cellar Loire Valley

At each step of the way, the winemaker tastes the grapes and wines, analyses them, and then makes a multitude of decisions such as how strong to press, whether to de-stem the bunches, how long to let the wine macerate, how long to age the wine, whether to use vats or barrels... As many important choices as there are different wines!

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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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Blending wines in Bordeaux


We spent the first weekend of February on the banks of the Garonne river for a couple of Vinification Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage.  After working in the vineyard and the harvest, this third day of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience picks up where we left off after the harvest and takes us through to the bottling of the wine, with particular attention paid to the art of blending.

Wine Making Gift in Bordeaux France.

We started the day in the chai with Christine Nadalié, the château's winemaker.  She explained how the grapes were received during the harvest and how the grape juice was transformed into alcohol during the fermentation process.

Vineyard Tour in Bordeaux, France.

Next door, in the barrel room, Chrsitine told us about the work done whilst the wine is ageing such as stirring the lees and topping up the barrels.  Christine comes from a family of coopers, and so she let us in on the fascinating world of barrels and the harmony between oak and wine.

Wine lover gift. Adopt-a-vine and get involved in making your own wine

Once we had visited the chai, the plan was to visit our adopted vines.  However on the Saturday it started to pour down with rain at that point so we changed the plan.  On Sunday, we got booted up and braved the mud to take a look at our vines!

Rent-a-vine gift in France.

The Vinification Experience Day is where we taste the most wine.  To help us describe what we are tasting, we organised a workshop to help us identify the aromas that we can find in the wine.  It's not as easy as you would think!

Original wine enthusiast gift.

We then tasted three wines that are still in the process of ageing.  Each wine was from the same grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, picked on the same day from the same plot of vines, but each had been aged in a different type of barrel.  It's amazing to smell and taste the marked differences between the three wines.

Hands-on wine tasting course in Bordeaux, France

To accompany the lunch, we tasted several of the Bordeaux Supérieur and Haut-Médoc wines produced at the winery.

Lunch and wine tasting at the winery in Bordeaux

 

The afternoon was dedicated to blending, using the four principle grape varietals grown at Château Beau Rivage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  First of all we tasted each grape varietal separately to appreciate the individual characteristics that each brings to a blended wine.

 

Wine blending gift, Bordeaux, France.

In small groups, we then made several different blends to understand for ourselves how we can make completely different styles of wine.

At the end of the afternoon, each group chose their best blend to present to Christine and the rest of the group.

All in all a day rich in information, aromas and tastes!

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