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Archive from May 2011

Is your Dad a Wine Connoisseur? Adopt a Vine for an original Father’s Day Gift!

Father's Day is fast approaching - it's the time to find that unique gift.


Original father's day wine gift for a wine connoisseur

The Romans used to pay tribute each year during February to dead fathers, but Father's Day as we celebrate it today was born in the United States at the beginning of the last century. Mother's Day was already well established when a young girl who had lost her mother and was being raised by her father wished to honour him, and so suggested that we also celebrate Father's Day. The idea caught on, resulting in Father's Day becoming an institution in many countries!

A delightful day for all fathers but a real dilemma for children; what to give for an innovative and original father's day present Gourmet Odyssey has an original father's day gift idea for you that is a unique adventure for any wine connoisseur!

More than a wine course or a good bottle of wine, your father will receive a personalised gift box introducing him to the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  During a whole vintage he will be the adopted owner of vines in a renowned French vineyard and will participate in the making of his own personalised bottles of wine!

So look no further for the perfect present: offer him an unusual Father's Day wine gift that he'll remember for years!


Learn more about our Father's Day wine gifts.

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More than just wine

More than just wine is the wine blog by the refreshingly no-nonsense David Cobbold. As the name suggests, his blog covers not just wine, but some of the other passions that David has, notably rugby, art, literature and motorcycles!
David is a Brit who has made his home in France, and is very well known in the world of wine as a journalist and author on all things wine.  As well as having published more than 15 books, he co-presents the InVino radio show for BFM Radio, acts as a wine advisor for many wine clubs and societies such as the Wine & Business Club events in Paris and beyond, and is one of the founders of the eccevino online wine boutique.

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Biodynamic Wine Making in Chablis

We entered into the depths of the mysterious world of biodynamic wine making during the latest Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience day at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Chablis, Burgundy.  
Bidoynamic winemaking using cow horns stuffed with cow dung

The Wine Experience days are a hands-on and practical way for our adopt-a-vine clients to learn more about wine making and the life of a winemaker in the main French wine growing regions.

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Chablis vineyards and terroir

To introduce us to the Chablis wine growing region, we stepped out onto the terrace at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard to survey the surrounding vineyards.  From this great vantage point Céline Brocard-Guegen, pointed out and explained the differences in terroir between the four local appellations, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru, and briefly explained the history of the winery that her father started some 40 years ago with a small plot of vines that were loaned to him.

Walking in the Cbalis Vineyards

We then walked to the Boissonneuse vineyard, home to the Gourmet Odyssey adopt-a-vine plot.  This vineyard was the first of the winery's vines to be converted to organic and biodynamic cultivation.  We were accompanied by Yvonnick, head of biodynamics at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, who talked us through the various of stages of working on the vines from pruning to harvesting.   

Explaining De-budding

As always during a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Day, there is some work involved, and the task was to de-bud the vines (ébourgeonnage).  Yvonnick explained the importance of de-budding to improve the quality of the grapes by concentrating the growth and energy of the vines into the future fruit-bearing canes.  He showed us how to select the stems to detach, and which ones were to be left alone.

De-budding - Ebourgeonnage

Each client then set off to find their adopted vines, and began putting into practice what Yvonnick had just explained.  Luckily Céline and Yyvonnick were at hand to guide us, as it's not always as simple as you would think! 

We learnt about how the vines are treated organically, and were also introduced to the world of biodynamics.  The Experience Day was planned to coincide with one of the key biodynamic events that is undertaken at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, the digging up of cow horns, filled with cow dung, that have been buried for six months!  First impressions of biodynamic farming are often that it is all a bit of hocus-pocus and wizardry, so you need to keep an open mind and bear in mind the underlying principles of biodynamics, that is to improve the structure of the soil, and to strengthen the natural defenses of the plant from disease.

Unearthing the buried cow horns

The cow horns had been interred in the fertile grounds of the old priory in Chablis that also belongs to the Brocard family. During the six months the cow manure ferments to form a fibrous super concentrated compost, that when mixed with collected rainwater and spread amongst the vines, helps to improve the soil structure and enhance the life of micro-organisms.

Emptying the cow horns

Our job was to remove the fermented cow dung from the horns.  Not as smelly and dirty a task as you might think!  In fact the cow dung has a sweet and rich aroma!

Wine tasting Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru

Intrigued, amazed, disbelieving, no one was left indifferent as we returned to the winery to finally taste some of the wines from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, including the Petit Chablis Sainte Claire 2009, Chablis La Boissonneuse 2009, Chablis Premier Cru Vau de Vey 2009, Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2008, Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2008 and ending with the Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2009.


During the meal of local Chablis charcuterie and cheese, we continued the wine tasting with a Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2002 and the domaine's Irancy 2008 red wine.

Wine Tasting from the fermentation vats

The afternoon finished with a tour of the fermentation hall to see the mix of oak and stainless steel vats that are used to ferment and age the wines.  A final tasting was in store of the unfinished 2010 wines, direct from the vats!

Many thanks to Yvonnick and Céline for giving us an insight into the life at the winery, and for introducing us to the weird and wonderful world of biodynamic winemaking!

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De-budding in Burgundy

Under the blue skies of Burgundy, we spent last weekend at Domaine Chapelle with some of the Wine Discovery Experience Day clients.  The aim of the day is to learn more about making wine in a very practical way and to get behind the scenes to find out what it's really like to be a winemaker.

Watch the video (french langauge)


Burgundy vineyards

After the initial introductions, we headed straight out into the Clos des Cornières vineyard, where the adopted vines of the clients are located.  With the panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards, Jean Françcois Chapelle began by explaining the difference in terroir between the vine plots used for Premier Cru, Santenay village, Burgundy red, and Santenay village white wines.  Something which is much easier to understand with the landscape in front of you than by looking at a map!

Cultivating the vines organically

We learnt about all of the key stages in cultivating the vines from pruning, treating the vines organically, right through to when the grapes will eventually be fully ripened come harvest time.  Much like the other wine producing regions of France, Burgundy has had a very warm and sunny April, which means that the vines are currently some 3 weeks in advance of a normal year.  It's still too early to predict exactly when the harvest will be, but it will almost surely be sooner than usual.

The difference betwwen Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Vine Leaves

The adjacent vineyard is planted with Chardonnay vines, so we took a look at the difference in the vines, the different pruning methods used and compared the foliage of the pinot noir and Chardonnay vines. 



Back in the Clos des Cornières vineyard, time to get down to some work!  The essence of a Gorumet Odyssey Wine Experience Day is to learn about wine making by touching, seeing, doing, tasting and smelling.  Jean François had left a few rows of vines to be de-budded.  He explained the importance of removing some of the vine shoots to concentrate growth in the future fruit-bearing shoots, which will help improve the quality of the grapes, and showed us how to select which shoots to break off.  Easy! We each settled in front of some vines, looked at each shoot, remembered what Jean François had told us, and then froze as the realisation of the responsibility that had been placed upon us hit home. No-one wants to choose the wrong shoot to detach!  Luckily Jean François and Yvette Chapelle were at hand to guide us, and soon the pace of activity increased!

Rent-a-vine sign in the Burgundy vineyard


Signs had been placed in the vineyard to mark where the adopted vines of each client are located. Time was set aside to search out each client's mini plot of vines.  The cameras came out, various poses were adopted, some set about weeding around their vines, and others even started murmuring sweet nothings to encourage their fertility!

Wine tasting in the courtyard Domaine Chapelle, Santenay, Burgundy

After the effort, time to head back to the winery for a well earned aperitif!  In the shade of the courtyard, we began the wine tasting, accompanied by some Gougères, a delicious cheese pastry specialty from Burgundy.  We started with Domaine Chapelle's Santenay "St Jean" 2009 white wine, a crisp and mineral chardonnay from the upper slopes above the domaine that we had seen from our time in the vineyard.  Next we tasted the Chassagne Montrachet  "Morgeot" Premier Cru 2008 white wine, a more fruity and complex wine.

Lunch, including boeuf bourguignon and local cheeses, was served in the reception hall, whilst the wine tasting continued with the red wines. First a comparison of the Santenay Village "Clos des Cornières" 2009 and 2006 (the wine selected for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience), followed by the domaine's Aloxe Corton 2007, and finally the Santenay "Beaurepaire" Premier Cru 2002. 

Visit of the fermentation hall

The cool of the cuverie and cellars awaited us in the afternoon.  First an introduction to how the grapes are received at harvest time, sorted, and ferment in the tanks.

Visit of the cellars

Ducking our heads, we descended into the vast cellars where the 2010 wines are currently ageing, and some 130,000 bottles are stocked.  Jean François explained the ageing process, and the choice of oak barrels used.

The wine labelling station

The visit ended with an explanation of the bottling and labeling stations, the final stage in preparing the wine before it is packaged up and dispatched to be enjoyed far and beyond the small village of Santenay!

A very warm thanks to Jean François and Yvette for sharing their passion with us, and for giving us an insight into the many and varied facets that make up the life of a winemaker.

Watch the video (french langauge)


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The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

Adopt a Vine in France and Follow the Making of Your Own Wine !

From € 169


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