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Archive from June 2013

Work in the vineyard in Chinon

Last weekend we spent two thoroughly enjoyable Discovery Experience Days in the vineyard at Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon.  The winemaker, Marc Plouzeau, was with us to explain and show us what is involved in being a winemaker.

We started the day in the Clos de la Bonnelière, the vineyard where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients are located. We took a few minutes to find our vines before getting down to more serious matters!

A couple of winemakers in the vineyard

Marc brought us up to date with all of the work that has already been carried out in the vineyard during the winter to protect them from the cold, and to prune them in time for this year's campaign.

The vines are presently about three weeks behind a normal year, so we are still in the process of de-budding and raising the training wires. Marc explained the importance of de-budding to ensure better quality grapes come harvest time by removing the canes that won't produce any fruit or those that will just sap energy from the plant. Then it was time for us to get stuck in!

Marc the winemaker of the Château de la Bonnelière in Chinon

Marc also showed us how to raise the training wires to better support the vine branches and the weight of the grapes to come. We raised the wires and attached them together using clips.

Raising the training wire

And for the more courageous, we also used some hoes to remove the weeds from around the feet of the vines that the plough blade couldn't get to. It's a physical job, but helps to open up the taste buds for the wine tasting!

Removing the weeds from around the feet of the vines

As an aperitif, Marc opened his delicious "Perle Sauvage" sparkling white wine. It's a natural wine with nothing added to it... 100% pure fruit!

During the meal, we continued the tasting with a range of the organic white and red wines that the winery produces, including the "Clos de la Bonnelière", which is the wine selected by Gourmet Odyssey and which won gold medal at the Millésime Bio organic wine fair this year.

Wines tasting during the winemaker meal

After lunch, we headed to the vinification hall, where Marc showed us the fermentation tanks, and introduced us to the work in the chai.

In the vinification hall

The day finished in the winery's cellar which is located directly underneath the Chinon Fortress. In this magical place, we discovered the barrels used to age the wines, the thousands of bottles that are resting, and the machine used to turn the bottles of sparkling wine.

In the cellar
Many thanks to Marc and to all the clients who shared this happy moment with us.

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Discovery Experience Days in the Chablis vineyard

We spent a sunny weekend among the Chablis vines at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  It did the world of good to have the feeling that summer had finally arrived!  We were there for two Discovery Experience Days, which are designed to find out more about the profession of being a winemaker, and principally, the devotion and work carried out in the vineyard to obtain the best possible grapes come harvest time.

Chablis vineyard

Following the introductions to the winery and the Chablis region, we headed straight out to the Boissonneuse vineyard, which was the winery's first plot to be converted to organic and biodynamic culture.  Each client had adopted some vines, and it is here that they are to be found.

Adopt a vine gift

We took a few moments to take some pictures and so that each person could acquaint themselves with their vines!

Arnauld, who is a member of the vine team, accompanied us to explain the detailed work that is carried out in the vineyard throughout the year.

Working in the vineyard

The vines are currently two to three weeks behind a normal year.  We are still therefore at the stage of de-budding.  Arnauld showed us how to reduce the number of branches on each vine to encourage better quality grapes for the coming harvest.  It was then down to us to roll up our sleeves and start de-budding!

De-budding is almost as complex as pruning, because you always have to keep in mind how to rejuvenate the plant and to think of which branches will be best for the following year.  But the best way to learn, or at least appreciate the complexity of the task, is to get stuck in!

Debudding in the vineyard at Chablis

Arnauld also showed us how to raise the training wires to better support the weight of the vine foliage and grapes to come, and to better space the growth.
A large proportion of the winery's vines are treated biodynamically.  This approach to working means that the winemaker has to be very attentive to the health of the vines, and to treat them in harmony with the surrounding terroir and environment.  Arnauld explained the different preparations that are administered using cow dung, and plants such as stinging nettles.  They are used as preventative treatments for the vines against diseases, and to give them more strength.

back at the winery, we tasted the range of biodynamic wines.  To start, the Petit Chablis "Les Plantes", followed by the wine chosen by Gourmet Odyssey, the Chablis "Boissonneuse".  We then moved on to the Chablis Premier Cru "Vaulorent" and the Chablis Grand Cru "Les Preuses" before sitting down to lunch with a few other Chablis and Irancy wines.

Wine Tasting in Chablis

The afternoon started in the cellar where Pierre presented us the exposed cut of earth that shows the uniqueness of the Kimmeridgian stone that Chablis wines gain much of their characteristics from.

In the cellar

We then headed to the cuverie.  Here, we saw the different types of vats that used to vinify and age the wines.  Pierre introduced us to some of the choices the winemaker must take to age the wines, something that we will go into much more detail during the Vinification Experience Days.

Fermentation Hall

Very many thanks to all our clients who participated in the days.  We hope that you left appreciating a little more about the fascinating and passionate profession of winemaking!

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