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with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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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)



  • I think of this day each time I try to distinguish which vine is a pinot noir and which is a chardonnay by the form of its leaves, or I try to recognise the pruning method used on a vine... A very instructive day for those who are interested in learning more about the work of a winemaker.

    Thanks to Monsieur and Madame Chapelle for their explanations, and for sharing the passion that they put into making their wine. And a special thanks to Mark and Tamara for organising this memorable wine experience day.

    See you again soon!

  • A big THANKS for your great photos which reflect the marvellous moment spent together at Domaine Chapelle.

    We were a good team, and we will long remember this lovely day learning about Burgundy and its excellent wines...

    Many thanks too to Monsieur and Madame Chapelle who gave so generously...

  • A very enjoyable day that we won't forget.

    Thank you to Mr and Mrs Chapelle, Mark and Tamara for your welcome and kindness.

    See you soon for the harvest....

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The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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

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