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Archive from December 2011

Vinification Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage

We finished the year, nose in glass, during the Vinification Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage in the Bordeaux region.  It's the most technical of the Gourmet Odyssey Experience Days, with the objective of understanding more about the ageing and blending of wine.

Vinification Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage

To awaken our senses of taste and smell, we started the morning outside in the vineyard for a breath of fresh winter air!  Christine showed us how they will prune the vines over the coming months, and we set to work pulling the cut branches from the training wires.  The creepers from the branches had wrapped themselves tightly around the wires and posts, so it was a job that helped warm us up!

Pulling the branches from the vines

We went to the far end of the vineyard where the plot of Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines is located, so that we could each see our mini plot!

It was then time to head back inside to the warmth to start putting our senses to work!  We passed around some small bottles, the first set containing the aromas to be found in red wine, the second those which characterize wine that has been aged in oak barrels.  We had to guess the smell of each, which is an exercise more difficult than you would imagine, particularly as often you know you know the smell, but you just can't put a name to it!

Working our sense of smell

We then started the tastings to unravel the principal tastes and aromas that each grape varietal and ageing in different types of oak brings to the wine.

For the first tasting, we took the same merlot wine, but which had been aged in three different ways.  We had to guess which had been aged in old French oak, which in new French oak and which had been aged in new American oak. It's always incredible to smell and taste the huge differences that different wood makes to the wine.
During lunch, we continued the wine tasting of the winery's finished wines so that we could learn how different blends and quantities of grape varieties change a wine's structure.

Tasting the wines

At Château Beau Rivage, each grape varietal is aged separately, and the blending takes place at the end of the ageing process.  We therefore were able to taste each grape varietal of the 2011 harvest one by one to learn the characteristics of each.  We learnt, for example, that merlot is a more fruity variety, the cabernet sauvignon has a longer finish, and the petit verdot is sharper.

Making our own wine blends

In Bordeaux, it's the blending of the different grape varieties that is the art form.  In small teams, we saw for ourselves by concocting our own blends using the measuring cylinders. We also learnt that even if there is a grape variety that we don't much care for on its own, once blended with others can really bring out the best in the overall blend. 

At the end of the day, each team presented its preferred blend to the rest of the group before tasting two blends that Christine had prepared.  The day had taught us that there is much skill needed for the ageing and blending of wine, and so fortunately our wine is in the safe hands of Christine!

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Original Christmas Gift Idea for a Wine Lover

With just a few weeks to go, the pressure is mounting to find that original Christmas present idea?

Original Christmas Wine Gift Idea. Adopt-a-vine in France and participate in an authentic Wine Experience

Don't worry - Gourmet Odyssey might have just the Christmas gift for a wine enthusiast that you've been looking for.  Not only is it an original gift experience, but it's also organic!

Adopt some vines and give an unusual wine experience gift.  Your recipient will become the adoptive owner of their plot of organic vines in France, and can also get involved in helping to make their wine at the vineyard, guided by one of our passionate winemakers during one of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience days.

During these hands-on wine courses, each valid for two people, you will discover what it takes to be a winemaker, and what secrets lie behind making a bottle of great wine.  It?s also a great excuse to visit some of France's most famous wine growing regions.

Throughout the Wine Experience, you are kept updated of the key steps in nurturing the vines, the harvest, and the work in the cellar via newsletters.

And at the end of the experience, you get to choose the name of your vintage and receive a bottle of personalised wine for each adopted vine!

So how's that for a Christmas gift that breaks the mould?

Follow this link for more information about the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

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The Terre de Vins and Art de Vivre Wine Fair in Narbonne

Guillaume from Château Beau Rivage just sent us this photo from Narbonne where he's setting up the stand (N° 28) for the "Terre de Vins et Arts de Vivre" show at the Parc Expo. 


Terre de Vins et Arts de Vivre Wine Fair

The wine fair is open from the 9th to 11th December and if you're in the neighbourhood, why not drop by to taste some of their delicious wines!

Have a great wine fair Guillaume and thanks for the photo!

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