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Wine Discovery Experience Day at the Cooperage and in the Vines

Last weekend, we travelled to Château Beau Rivage, near Bordeaux, to spend it with some of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients.

In the Vineyard for the Wine Discovery Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage, Macau-en-Médoc, Bordeaux

We had planned the date to coincide with the "Open Doors Weekend in Médoc", so as to include a visit to the cooperage, Tonnellerie Nadalié, which was unusually open to the public.  Amongst the vines and the barrels, we spent a great moment, rich in encounters and sharing of knowledge.

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A special guest was there to welcome us on the Saturday morning.  Perched in a tree next to the Château, we were surprised to hear the "craw craws" of a large green parrot!

After the introductions, we headed off to the Tonnellerie Nadalié, the cooperage run by the family of Château Beau Rivage's owner, Christine Nadalié. Having passed the wood park, where the planks of oak are stocked in open air for 2 years to remove the bitterness from the wood, we entered the factory at the start of the production line.  The factory was operating on the Saturday, something that only happens once every two years, the noise from all the activity as strong as the smell from the worked wood!  Someone remarked that it smelt of wine, but it was actually the association of the smell of oak with the aroma of wine aged in oak barrels!

Visit of the Tonnelerie Nadalié Cooperage

We followed the cutting of the first planks, the assembling of the barrels in a rose shaped cone, and the placing of the first hoops that help give the final shape to the barrels.

Toasting the Barrels

The next stage showed us how the inside of the barrels are toasted with a naked flame to bring different tastes and aromas to the wine that will be aged inside.  A truly impressive sight!

We continued our passage to see the placing of the heads at each end of the barrel, the sanding stations, the placing of the final hoops, and the laser marking of the barrels before ending the visit in the huge stock depot, where we could see the barrels ready to be shipped to the four corners of the world.  It was absolutely fascinating to better understand the craft of a cooper, crucial in the ageing of many types of wine, and to witness the harmony between the efficiency of the machines and the expertise and know-how of the coppers themselves.

Wine tasting at Château Beau Rivage, Bordeaux

To gather our strength for the afternoon work in the vineyard, we returned to Château Beau Rivage, and began the tasting of the estate's wines, which we continued over the winemaker's rustic meal.  With the sunny conditions on Saturday we ate outside, but with the cooler temperatures on Sunday, we snuggled up in the warmth of the Château's large kitchen.  The wines were greatly appreciated, and included the Clairet 2009, the Château Beau Rivage 2007 and 2006, the Clos La Bohème 2006 and 2005, le Phare 2002 and a selection of the "nephew and niece" cuvees!

Adopt a vine signs

After the local charcuterie and cheese meal, hoe over the shoulder, we headed off into the vineyard.  Each client dispersed between the rows to find and introduce themselves to their adopted vines.

Wine Course in the Bordeaux vineyards

The aim of the Wine Discovery Experience Day is to learn more about the winemaker's profession by participating in the tasks according to the time of year.  This time we learnt more about "acanage" and "décavaillonnage".


Acanage is the fixing of the vines to the posts and wires using a piece of elasticated string.  We had to tie a slip knot and cut the string with a hooked ring, worn around two fingers.


Décavaillonnage is a more physical task involving removing the soil from between the vines that was mounded to protect the vines from the frost during the winter months.

Visit of the Wine Cellar and Chai

The day ended in the winery with an introduction to the stages of vinification, and a visit of the cellar to see the 2010 wines ageing in the Nadalié barrels.
So we started and finished with the barrels, rounding off two very instructive, and above all fun, Wine Discovery Experience Days!

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  • We spent a fantastic day with you. The conviviality and good humour of the group made for an unforgettable Sunday.

    A quality service that I hope will bring many more new followers !!!

    Thanks again to all of the contributors.

    See you again soon.

    Véronique and Michael.

  • We had an excellent time. Stayed the night before in Margaux, visit to the copperage, visit of the château and between the two, a lovely wine tasting meal in a very friendly and humourous atmosphere.

    Congratulations to Mark for this excellent idea and thanks to Christine for sharing her passion.

    Eric and Valerie

  • Hi,

    A great day, well organised. We encountered people passionate about their profession. The visit to the cooperage was very instructive, as was the wine tasting! A very good ambiance with the group.
    We also made the most of the "Portes ouvertes en Médoc" weekend to visit some other vineyards.

    See you in December for the Vinification Experience Day.

    André and Isabelle

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