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Archive from July 2011

Home Straight to the Harvest

We had to be flexible last Saturday with the Wine Discovery Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle to avoid a few showers, but that didn't stop us having a good time all the same!

Understanding the vineyards and terroir of Burgundy

We started off with a little stroll through the vines.  Jean-François Chapelle explained what makes the Burgundy terroir so special, and showed us the geological differences between the vineyards that make up Santenay village, Santenay Premier Cru and the plots used for the Burgundy Pinot Noir.

We climbed up to one of Domaine Chapelle's Premier Cru vineyards, Beaurepaire.  Some of the old vines in this vineyard have recently been dug up, so Jean-François explained how his team removed the vines and roots, and how the plot will be sowed with mustard to regenerate the soil before the new vines are planted.

Visit of the Fermentation Hall

The first rain shower arrived a little earlier than expected, so we scurried back to the shelter of the winery to continue our discussions on the work carried out in the vineyard, and we also visited the fermentation hall where the grapes are received at harvest time and put into the fermentation tanks.

Wine Tasting of Burgundy Wines at the winery

Next up was a wine tasting of some of the white Burgundy wines from Domaine Chapelle, a Santenay "Saint Jean" 2009 and a Chassgane Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Morgeots" 2009.  The wine tasting continued over our lunch of Burgundy specialties.  First, a Santenay "Clos des Cornières" 2006, the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, then an Aloxe Corton 2007, with a Santenay Premier Cru "Beaurepaire" 2002 to finish.

Rent a vine in a Burgundy vineyard

After the meal, we had a new bright patch, so we headed back amongst the vines, this time to the Clos des Cornières vineyard so that everyone could get acquainted with their adopted vines!

Visit of the wine cellar

Back at the winery, we descended through the low door to the vaulted cellar which is a real labyrinth.  Here we saw where the ageing takes place in the oak barrels, and where hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine are stored!

The Wine Labeling Room

The Wine Experience Day finished with a visit to the labeling room, where one day next year the bottles of the 2011 vintage will be dressed with the personalised wine labels of the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  But there's still lots of work to be done before then - you have to be patient in the world of wine!

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Among friends in the Chablis Vineyards

We've just spent two glorious sunny days among the Chablis vines with some of the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  With Céline, Pierre and Yvonnick from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard at our sides, we spent the day behind the scenes to get an insight into what it's like to be a winemaker!

Explaining the terroir around Chablis

Link to the video 

To get a better understanding of the terroir around us, we stepped out onto the terrace which overlooks the vines which encircle the winery.  It's an impressive view and the perfect spot to appreciate the difference in vineyard plots that make Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru wines.


In the vineyard, Yvonnick explained to us all of the key stages in cultivating the vines, from pruning right up until the harvest.  As is the custom with our Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Days, the winemakers had left us some work to do!  To concentrate the energy of the vines in the fruit bearing branches and the grapes, we needed to do some "épamprage", which involves removing unwanted shoots from the vines.  These are the shoots that won't bear any fruit this year, and won't be needed when it comes to pruning to generate next year's harvest.  The other advantage of épamprage is to improve the flow of air around the grapes to help defend the vines from mildew.

Getting stuck in

After receiving our instructions from Yvonnick, we spread out among the rows of vines to get stuck in.  But we soon found out that épamprage is not quite as easy as it seems!


Each Wine Experience client is the adopted owner of some vines in the vineyard.  Their vines are identifiable by a name board placed in front of them.  Once the hunt for the vines was declared open, we set off to find them and to check that everything was in order!

Organic and biodynamic wine making

The Boissonneuse vineyard, where the adopted vines are located, was the first plot to be converted to organic and biodynamic cultivation.  Yvonnick explained the difference between these two approaches, and showed us some of the plants, found at the end of the vine rows, that are used in making the biodynamic infusions and concoctions that attract unwanted insects away from the vines, or are used to strengthen the vines.

Wine Tasting of the Chablis Wines at the Vineyard

After all our efforts and all the talk about wine, the time finally came to taste some of the wines from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  To get a good appreciation of the range of wines, we started the wine tasting with a Petit Chablis Sainte Claire 2010, followed by a Chablis Sainte Claire 2010, before tasting the Boissonneuse 2009, the wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey.  We then moved on to several Chablis Premier Crus and finished with a Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2009.

Exposed cut of the Kimmeridgien soil

Once we had enjoyed a lunch from the highly acclaimed Chablis charcutier, Marc Colin, we headed down into the cool or the cellar.  Here, the Brocard family has left one of the walls exposed so that we can see the layers of limestone and marl which are the source of the distinctive aromas and taste of Chablis wines.

Visit of the fermentation hall

The day finished with a visit to the fermentation hall to see the tanks and oak vats that are used to ferment and age the wines.  After a final tasting, straight from the vats, we said our goodbyes, everyone hopefully leaving with a better understanding of the fascinating profession of a winemaker!

Link to the video 

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

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