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Archive from March 2011

Wine Tasting of the 2010 Vintage during the Vinification Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle

Last weekend saw us travel to Santenay in Burgundy for the Vinification Experience Days at Domaine Chapelle.  During each day, we participated in an in-depth wine tasting course, alongside the winemakers, to discover the key stages of fermentation and ageing of the wine, and to better understand the notion of terroir.

Oenology course in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

The Vinification Experience Day is the most technical oenology course of the wine experience days offered by Gourmet Odyssey, and most of the time is dedicated to wine tasting.  We therefore headed straight to the cuverie (fermentation hall), and after a brief explanation of how the grapes are received and put into the tanks at harvest time, we learnt more about the fermentation process.

Tasting sugar, salt, acid, and bitter solutions

To prepare us for the wine tasting to follow, Yannick, the Technical Director at the wine estate, had prepared a little test: four numbered cups, each containing a sugary, acidic, salty or bitter solution.  The game was to guess which was which.  Not the most appetising drinks, but as Jean-François Chapelle, the owner of the winery, told us, wine tasting is a work tool!  He also explained the importance of the five senses when tasting wines; smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing.

Wine tasting direct from the barrels

In the cellar, we began the tasting of the 2010 vintages, using a pipette to draw the wine directly from the barrels.  The côte de Beaune region of Burgundy uses just one grape varietal in the makeup of its wines, pinot noir for the reds and chardonnay for the whites.  The wines we tasted were chosen to highlight the difference in terroirs and the impact that the choice of oak used in the barrels has on the wines.   The first comparison was between wine from the same vines, from the same vineyard plot, and of the same age, but aged in different barrels.  The second comparison showed us the difference in terroir, comparing two Premier Crus, Santenay "La Comme" and Santenay "Beaurepaire", which hail from two different vineyards with differing geology and relief.

Blending wines from different aged vines

Climbing back up from the cellar, we stopped at the bottling machine before arriving at the final test.  This time we were presented with three wines, each coming from different plots in the same vineyard, the Clos des Cornières, where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients are located.  As well as their situation, the vines also varied in age, so we could also compare the impact on the wine.  One of the wines was more advanced in the ageing process than the others, one more fruity, and the last had a longer finish.  Using measuring cylinders, we played with different proportions of these three wines to make our own blends.  We tasted some great blends, but unfortunately the doses were not always remembered!

We passed the labeling machine as we headed back to the reception hall for the aperitif of Santenay white wine and gougères, a local specialty.  During the meal we tasted other regional fare such as beouf boruguignonne, and Epoisses cheese, and continued the comparisons of the estate?s wines with a Clos de Cornières 2009 and 2006, an Aloxe Corton 2007, and a Chassgane Montrachet Premier Cru 2007, before ending with an old marc de Bourgogne with the coffee.

Introduction to the adopted vines

After all that, we needed to take in some fresh air! Off we headed into the vineyard to inspect the work, and to give each person the chance to (re)introduce themselves to their adopted vines!

Thank you to all for two enriching and enlightening Vinification Experience Days.

Link to video (video available in french language only) 

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Amongst the Chablis vines for a Wine Discovery Experience Day

Last Saturday we were at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in the heart of the Chablis vineyards for a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience Day.  The objective for the day, to learn more about cultivating the vines, and biodynamic winemaking.

In the Middle of the Chablis vineyards for the Wine Dicovery Experience Day

Céline Brocard, the daughter of Jean-Marc, welcomed us to the winery in the magnificent reception room that overlooks the estate's vineyards which surround the building.  Céline introduced us to the region and winery, and from the balcony explained the difference in the terroir of the Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.

Explanation of Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru vineyards

We were fortunate to have a crisp blue skied day.  After equipping ourselves with boots and warm coats, we headed off directly for the Boissonneuse vineyard, where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients are located.  We were accompanied by Yvonnick, a modern day "druid" who is in charge of the biodynamic culture at the estate, and passionate about working in harmony with the environment and nature's rhythm.  Under his expert guidance, we learnt why and how to prune the vines, and realised that pruning vines is not as simple as it seems!

Learning how to prune the vines

Yvonnick then explained the fascinating principles of biodynamic farming, explaining the difference between organic and biodynamic, and how the biodynamic treatments are prepared using plant infusions, cow manure and silica, and how they are applied to treat the vines. 

Explanation of biodynamic wine making

After a few hours spent outdoors, the relative warmth of the cellar was very welcome!  At one end of the cellar, the wall has been left in its natural state to expose a cross section of the earth that characterises the Chablis terroir; Kimmeridgian strata composed of alternating limestone and clay marl.  The cellar was the location for our wine tasting session of the estate's organic Chablis wines, including a Chablis "vielles vignes", the Chablis from the Boissonneuse vineyard, several Chablis Premier Crus and a Chablis Grand Cru "Les Preuses".  The gougères, a Burgundy specialty, helped keep the hunger at bay before tucking into the Chablis Ham, served at lunch overlooking the vines!

Wine tasting session in the celllar

In the afternoon, we headed down to the wine making building to get an introduction into the vinification side of things, and finished with a final wine tasting, direct from the oak casks, of a few of the 2010 wines that are still ageing.

Wine tasting direct from the oak casks
Another great day that once again helped better understand the care and effort that is needed to make a quality wine!

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