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Archive from April 2012

Château Beau Rivage, a rising star!

Once again we're proud to announce the latest in the long list of prizes that our partner vineyard, Château Beau Rivage, has won for the exceptional quality of its wines.

Medal winning wines
During the recent Concours des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants (Independent Winemakers Competition), a gold medal was awarded for the Château Beau Rivage 2009 Bordeaux Supérieur, the red wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, and another gold for the Clos la Bohème 2009 Haut-Médoc wine that Christine Nadalié also makes.

These latest accolades follow on from the silver medal that the Clos la Bohème won at the prestigious Concours Général Agricole de Paris 2012!

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Décavaillonage during the Discovery Experience Day in Chinon

We spent a very enjoyable Wine Discovery Experience Day last Saturday in the vineyard at Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon.  This hands-on wine course enables you to roll up your sleeves and get involved in discovering the winemakers profession.

Wine Experience Gift in France. Rent-a-vine in an organic vineyard in Chinon.

We're approaching the end of the cold months, and so at this time of year in the Loire valley, we start to slowly work the soil again.  To protect the vines from the freezing winter temperatures, the winemakers heap soil around the vines stocks in a process called "cavaillonnage".  At the end of winter, this extra soil is removed again during the "décavaillonnage".  And this was what was in store for us today!

Marc Plouzeau, the winemaker and owner, joined us in the vineyard with his tractor.  With the help of some of our clients, he had attached a mechanical "décavaillonneuse" (a special type of plough) behind the tractor.  The décavaillonneuse has a fairly flat blade on either side which tills the soil between the vine stocks, and removes the extra soil from around each vine, returning the soil to the centre of each row.

Décavaillonnage in the vineyard

The machine has a semi-automated mechanism that enables it to plough around each vine.  Most of the time it works fine all by itself, but every now and then needs a little helping hand!   We took turns guiding it to ensure that the vines weren't dug up in the process!  You can better see how it works in the short video.

Some clients also had the chance to drive the tractor - a few childhood dreams becoming reality!

Driving the tractor

Despite the efforts of the décavaillonneuse, a few heaps of soil and some grass remained around the vines.  For the more energetic, the hoes enabled us to finish the job properly!

Hoeing the weeds

Throughout the morning, Marc explained to us all of the steps taken and to be taken in the vineyard to ensure the best possible grapes come harvest time.    The vineyard is organically certified, so we also spent time discussing the differences between organic, biodynamic and conventional farming methods.

A Wine Experience day isn't complete without a visit to the vineyard plot where the adopted vines are located.  As usual, out came the cameras to take a few snaps, and we have already received a few photos for the "My Vine" photo competition.

The rent-a-vine plot

Our hard work in the morning was rewarded with some wine tasting back at the château, starting with the winery's Sauvignon Blanc and Chinon rosé.

Wine Tasting Gift at the winery. Adopt an organic vine and follow the making of your own wine

Lunch was served in the barn, where we continued our tasting with some of the red wines, including the Château de la Bonnelière Chinon red, which is the cuvée chosen by Gourmet Odyssey.

Winemaker's lunch in the barn

We started the afternoon in the fermentation hall to see where the grapes are received during the harvest, and where the juice is turned into wine.  We will spend more time here during the Harvest Experience Day.

Fermentation Hall

The day finished in the magnificent cellar which is found in the centre of Chinon, directly beneath the Chinon castle.  It's a magical and impressive place, even more so when we learnt that the huge galleries where dug by hand!

Visiting the wine cellar below the Chinon fortress

It's here in the cellar that the barrels quietly rest, and the bottles are stocked before being dispatched to be enjoyed near and far.

As always, many thanks to Marc for welcoming us so warmly and giving us a tiny glimpse of what it's like to be a winemaker.

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Competition for the most original photo of your vines

During the Wine Experience Days, one thing you can always be sure of is that the cameras will come out and start clicking away as soon as our clients meet their adopted vines! 

Adopt-a-vine photo competition

We are often surprised by the originality of the photos taken, so we thought it was a good idea to launch the "My Vine" competition for the most original photo taken of your adopted vines during one of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience days.

Let your imagination blossom - arty, comic, or atmospheric?  All photographic styles are welcome!

Criteria n°1: Know how to use a camera
Criteria n°2: Get involved
Criteria n°3 (and the most important): Originality

The competition is now open and will finish at the end of October.  The winner will receive a magnum of the wine included for their Gourmet Odyssey Experience!

To enter, you can publish your photo of your adopted vines directly on our Facebook page or you can send it by email.

So next time, you come and visit us at one of our partner vineyards, don't forget to bring your camera!

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Springtime in the vineyard

We spent a sunny weekend amongst the vines in Burgundy for a Wine Experience weekend at Domaine Chapelle.  The aim of this hands-on wine course is to learn more about the work in the vineyard, a stage which is so important in making quality wine.

Wine Experience Gift. Rent-a-vine and vineyard visit in Burgundy, France

The day started in the vineyard, where Jean-François Chapelle, the owner of the winery, and Yannick Jacrot, the Technical Director, showed us the difference between the local terroir, something which is always easier to appreciate in situ than looking at a geological map! 

Tour of the vineyard with the winemaker

Yannick and Jean-François then explained the different steps taken to nurture the vines from pruning right up to the time of harvest.

The warm and sunny spring that we have enjoyed has meant that the vines are ahead of where they would normally be, and the buds have already started to appear. 

Vine buds

The vines are organically certified at Domaine Chapelle, so we spent quite a lot of time learning how the vineyard is managed and the differences involved compared to conventional farming methods.

Each Wine Experience client is the adopted owner of some vines, and so before getting down to some work, we left some time free so that everyone could introduce themselves to their vines! 

Rent-a-vine gift in a French vineyard

Yannick had left us a few rows of vines to prune, so that we could see how to do it for ourselves.  It seems easy when you listen to the explanation, but once you're confronted with a vine, secateurs in hand, it's not that simple! 

Original Wine Enthusiast Gift. Hands-on wine course in a French vineyard.

Another task that we got involved with was to use a hoe to remove the weeds from between the vines that the plough had missed. 

After the morning spent in the vineyard, the aperitif was most welcome!  We tasted a couple of the winery's white wines before lunch.  During the meal we continued the wine tasting with some of the red wines to compare different vintages and terroir.
Wien Tasting Gift in France. Wine Experience at a French winery

We started the afternoon in the fermentation hall with an introduction to the wine making side of things.  This is where we shall spend more time during the Harvest and Vinification Experience Days.

Visit of the fermentation hall

  The day ended in the cellar where we toured the labyrinth of barrels and bottles where the wine is matured and stocked. 

Visit of the cellar


Many thanks to Yannick and Jean-François for sharing their passion for their profession, and giving us a brief glimpse into the life of a winemaker.


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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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