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Archive from May 2012

Debudding in Bordeaux

Last weekend, we were at Château Beau Rivage in Bordeaux for a couple of discovery days with some of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients.

Discovery Experience Day at Château Beau Rivage

The main aim of the Discovery Day is to learn about the winemaking profession, and more specifically, about the work in the vineyard.  We therefore started the day amongst the vines!
We were accompanied by Florian and Mike, who explained the tasks that have already been completed such as pruning, and the work to repair the posts and training wires.

Vines Vineyard Beau Rivage

At the far end of the vineyard, we stopped in front of the plot where the adopted vines are located, so that the introductions could be made and the photos taken!

Meeting with the adopted vines

For the next few weeks, the principal work in the vineyard will be debudding. This involves removing the shoots that have begun sprouting too low down on the vines. There are two main reasons for doing so, the first so that the vine can concentrate its energy on the fruit bearing branches, the second to help lower the risk of rot. As soon as we had received our instructions, we split up amongst the row, rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in with some de-budding!


The vineyard at Château Beau Rivage was organically certified in 2011. Florian and Mike explained what being organic entails, and how it differs from conventional farming.
Back at the Château, we had earnt our wine tasting session, and with the rising temperature, the chilled clairet was most welcome! We continued to taste the red wines from the estate over lunch, which we enjoyed outside.

Wine Tasting

In the afternoon, we headed back into the vineyard to learn about the work that remains between now and the harvest, taking note that there is still much to be done!
The day ended in the fermentation hall and barrel room, where we will be spending more time during the Harvest and Vinification Experience Days.

Visit of the fermentation hall and the barrel room

Read more blog posts regarding Château Beau Rivage.

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Debudding and Biodynamics in Chablis

Last weekend we were once again in Chablis for a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience Discovery Day. On the agenda: working in the vineyard, the difference between organic and biodynamic farming, and an introduction to the vinification side of things. 

Chablis Vineyard Vines Wine Making

The day started in the "Boissonneuse" vineyard plot, where the adopted vines of our clients are located. Once the photos in front of the vines were taken, we were quickly able to get straight into the heart of things to better understand the key stages in cultivating the vines.

Chablis Brocard Vines Wine 

To explain to us the work carried out in the vineyard, we were accompanied by Andrew from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  He took up from after last year's harvest, describing the steps that have already been taken before revealing the task that he had saved for us, de-budding.

De-budding is an important job at this time of year that will improve the quality of the grapes to come. It entails removing the non fruit-bearing shoots and double buds so as to better concentrate the vine's energy. Andrew showed us how it's done, and then we spread out among the rows to give it a go!  We found ourselves surrounded by vines for as far as the eye can see, which helped us appreciate the enormity of the effort that is taken in looking after the vines. 

De-budding Vines Vineyard 

The Boissonneuse vineyard is not only cultivated organically, but is also biodynamically certified by Demeter. We headed to the domaine's priory, where we were joind by Julien Brocard, son of Jean-Marc, who initiated and developed biodynamic farming on the estate.  

Biodynamic farming 

Julien explained to us what biodynamics is, and how it is different from organic farming, before talking in more detail about one of the core treatments used in biodynamic farming, the Preparation 500. For the past 6 months, several hundred cow horns, filled with cow dung have been buried in the priory's garden. During this time, the cow dung has been transformed into super concentrated humus of a high quality. At this time of year the cow horns are dug up, and the humus that is collected is then mixed with rainwater and sprayed on the vines to improve their strength and well-being.


Back at the winery, the time had finally come to taste the wines. Pierre served us a wide range of the estate's wines, starting with the Petit Chablis, before moving on to several Chablis and Chablis Premier Crus, before ending with a couple of Chablis Grand Cru. 

Wine Tasting Chablis Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard 

After lunch, we returned to the vineyard, where Andrew took us through the work that will be carried out on the vines between now and the harvest. 

Vineyard Winemaker Vines 

The day ended in the winery building where the grapes will be received during the harvest, the juice fermented, and the wine aged.

Many thanks to Julien, Pierre and Andrew for having given us an enlightening glimpse into the world of a winemaker!

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Debudding the vines in the Languedoc

Last weekend we headed to the south of France for some welcome sunshine and warmth.  We were at the Allegria winery near the Languedoc town of Pézenas for a Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience Day.

Wine Experience Gift in south of France. Adopt-a-vine and get invovled in making your own wine.

Ghislain d'Aboville, Allegria's owner and winemaker, welcomed us and recounted the journey that he and his family took before finally settling in this tranquil and idyllic Mediterranean setting.

The main purpose of the Discovery Experience Day is to learn about the work undertaken in the vineyard.  We therefore started with a little tour of the vine plots where Ghislain explained and showed us the different soils, grape varieties and pruning methods used, as well as describing how he cultivates his vines organically.  Watch the short video.

Learning about the terroir and grape varieties in the organic vineyard

At the other side of the vineyard we arrived at the plot where the adopted vines of our clients are located, a small chalkboard indicating each micro-plot.  It didn't take long for the cameras to come out, especially once the opportunity to win a magnum of wine in the "My Vine" photo competition was announced!

Photo shoot of the adopt-a-vines

It's currently the time of year when the vines start to develop rapidly, and they can grow several centimetres a day.  Without any intervention, the vine will try to grow as much and as far as possible to the detriment of the quality of grapes.  It's therefore important over the coming months to keep on top of the vines to control their growth.  The work to be done at the moment is debudding.

Debudding consists of removing the excess buds and shoots which will drain the vine's energy.  And so with so many pairs of hands available, Ghislain welcomed our help with this manual task!  Most of the time, it's fairly easy to see what needs to be removed and what should stay, but there are always a few exceptions to make the job more intellectually stimulating!

Debudding in the vineyard

Working under the sun at 30°C makes you thirsty, so luckily a chilled magnum of rosé was waiting for us in the shade of the mazet.

Wine Tasting in the shade

Back at the winery, we continued the wine tasting session during the meal, trying the various white and red wines produced by Allegria, including the Tribu d'A Côteaux du Languedoc Pézenas red wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey.

Wine Tasting over lunch

In the afternoon, we visited the fermentation hall and cellar.  Here Ghislain introduced us to the vinification side of wine making, something that we will go into much more detail with during the Harvest and Vinification Experience Days.

Tour of the fermentation hall and cellar

Many thanks to Ghislain for sharing his passion for winemaking with us!

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