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Oenology Course in Chablis

Last Sunday we were at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard in Burgundy for a Vinification Experience Day.  During this hands-on wine course, we learnt more about the key stages in making wine that happen between harvest time and bottling.

The day started down in the cellar where one of the walls has been left bare.  Here you can clearly see the strata of kimmeridgian soil and rock that help to give Chablis wines their unique taste.

Wine Experience Gift in Chablis, Burgundy. Visit the winery and discover the terroir

We then headed outside and followed the same path as the grapes take during the harvest to arrive at the fermentation hall.  Pierre showed us the presses that are used to extract the juice from the grapes, and explained how the juice in transferred to the vats, and the sugar turned into alcohol.

Original wine gift for a wine lover. Hands-on vineyard visit in Chablie. Wine Press.

The wine that is made from the Boissonneuse vineyard, the plot chosen by Gourmet Odyssey, is vinified in 3 different vats.  We stopped at each one to taste the 2012 vintage to see how it has been getting on since we harvested the grapes in October.  It's interesting to see how each vat has evolved differently, with one being much further behind than the other two.

Wine tasting gift Chablis, France. Tasting the wine directly from the fermentation tank.

In the next door hall, Pierre showed us the machines and the line that is used to bottle the wine.  After the wine is bottled, it is then passed through the labelling machine before being put into the cases and dispatched to the four corners of the globe.

The bottling line

Back at the winery, we started the first of the workshops.  Often, one of the most difficult things when tasting wine is to find the right words to describe the sensations that you are feeling.  We set up an exercise using flasks containing different smells to help us identify the variety of aromas that can be found in white wine.

Oenology gift. Nez du Vin aroma wine course.

The tongue also helps us when tasting, and different zones are sensitive to different tastes.  During the second workshop we tasted five different types of water; a control test, and one each that had had an acidic, bitter, sweet and salty flavour added to it.

By this stage, we had earned our right to start tasting some finished wines!  Pierre had prepared a few different series of wines to help us appreciate different characteristics.  We started with a blind tasting of the three different white grape varieties used at the winery, Aligoté, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine Tasting Gift in Chablis, France. Tasting the different styles of Chablis wines.

We tasted others series of wines to identify wines aged in stainless steel vats and in wooden casks, and how to identify a corked wine.

We continued the tasting over lunch with a Boissonneuse 2010 and 2003 to get an idea of how a wine ages, and we also tasted a magnum of one of the red wines made by the winery, the Irancy "Les Mazelots".

Some fresh air was in order after lunch, so we headed over to the Boissonneuse vineyard where the adopted vines are located.

Adopt-a-vine wine gift experience Chablis, France. Adopt a row of vines.

We finished the day with a visit of the old fermentation hall where some of the more prestigious wines are aged in oak casks and barrels.  We also had one last tasting in store - that of two lots of the Boissonneuse 2011 which will very shortly be blended and bottled.  We tasted each wine separately before blending the two together in a measuring cylinder.

Wine making experience gift in Chablis. Visit the oak casks in the fermentation hall.

So lots of discussion and lots of tasting!  We hope that the day taught gave a little more insight into the life of a winemaker and the important choices to be made during the winemaking process.


  • Just to let you know we were thoroughly delighted with our Gourmet Odyssey weekend. We have visited many wine, beer and distillery establishments over the years. Hence when Ann suggested attending, I was skeptical about travelling 450 miles to Chablis to get more of the same. What a lovely surprise to find that this was different.

    You delivered a stimulating weekend because it provided hands-on demonstrations on the care of the vines, informative explanations about the relationship between terrain and quality/flavor of the wine. Your smell and taste session was a great success and rightly deserves praise as it enabled us to appreciate the subtle differences between the wines. Thus making the tasting sessions more enjoyable.

    Well organized, informative and just a fun weekend. It was well worth the long journey from the UK and we are looking forward to another weekend with Gourmet Odyssey.

    John & Ann

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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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