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Archive from February 2014

Vinification Experience Day in the Languedoc

For the latest Vinification Experience Day, we were blessed with the first warm and sunny day of the year.  The first participants arrived at Domaine Allegria for a coffee taken outside around the big table.  A luxury for the month of February!

We started the day in the vineyard to see where the adopted vines are located.  On the way to the plot of Syrah vines, we saw how the pruning was progressing.  The view from the Mazet vineyard is great, and we could see all the way to the snow-capped Pyrenees.  The Canigou is beautiful with its blanket of snow.  For the participants it's a great sight.  For the winemaker, it's the indicator that bad weather will arrive within the next 48 hours!


Winemaking gift at the winery in Pezenas, France


Back from the vineyard, we visited every square inch of the chai.  The questions were varied; what's a wine without sulphites like, why do you use selected yeasts, why are the concrete vats lined with epoxy? The discussion also included bottling because the fermentation hall is currently bursting with palettes of bottles and cases.  On the 26th Februray the winery will be bottling wines all day, concentrating mainly on the 2013 rosé wines.

We then played a little game to try and identify the aromas present in wine.  The first series contained mainly floral and fruity aromas, the second series ones that are present due to the ageing in oak barrels.


Wine Lover Gift in France. Idetinfy the different aromas found in wine.


We then tasted two different Syrahs taht are still in the process of ageing, one that had been aged in a vat, and the other in oak.  The comparison helped us to better understand firsthand the influence of oak barrels on the structure and aroma of the wine.

We enjoyed lunch outside. For the aperitif, we tasted the Dolce Vita 2013 rosé, an avant premiere of the wine to be bottled the following week.  During the meal that was prepared by Delphine, we continued the wine tasting with the Cinsault Abuelo 2012, the Tribu d'A 2010 red wine, and the Cousu Main 2010 from a magnum.  We then tasted the first of the 2014 goat's cheese from our friends at the Mas Roland, with the Tribu d'A 2012 white wine.  The perfect match!  We then finished the meal with a chocolate fondant, accompanied by the Belle Histoire 2009 wine.


Wine tasting gift in Pezenas, Languedoc France.


After the meal, all the participants voted to make the most of the magnificent winter sun and to go for a walk in the vineyard.  So off we went, and continued our discussion, covering topics such as organic wine making, and different pruning methods.

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Cellar work in Chinon

We spent last Saturday in the Loire Valley for a Vinification Experience Day at Château de la Bonnelière.   The aim of this day spent at the winery is to learn more about the work that is done in the cellar to age the wine and bring out the best of its potential.

In the chai, Marc Plouzeau, the winemaker at Château de la Bonnelière, explained how the grapes are handled during the harvest, and how the grape juice is then turned into wine.  Marc told us all about malo-lactic fermentation and the differences between ageing wine in vats and barrels.


Winemaking Gift in France. Blend your own wines during the Gourmet Odyssey Vinification Experience Day


Once the ageing has finished, which can take up to 18 months after the harvest depending on the year and the type of wine, the wine is then bottled in-situ at the winery.  Marc showed us the machines used to bottle and label the wine.


Adopt-a-vine in the Loire Valley and visit the winery with the winemaker.


We then sat down to a workshop to help us identify the aromas found in wine, something that is not as easy as it seems!


Wine tasting gift in France. Identify the aromas found in wines.
Before settling down to lunch, we tasted one of the sparkling wines produced by Marc, the Perles Fines.  During the meal, we continued the wine tasting with a Chenin white wine and two of the winery's red Chinon wines, the Clos de la Bonnelière and the Chapelle.


The cellar used to age the wines produced by Château de la Bonnelière is located directly underneath the Chinon Fortress, in one of the galleries formed from where the rock was extracted to build the castle above.  In this magical place, we saw where the barrels of wine will be brought to continue the wines maturing.


Wine blending gift in France. Blend wines in the cellar at Chinon
We tasted 4 wines from the 2013 vintage that are currently in the ageing process.  The first 3 were each from the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard, home to the vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients, but are ageing in either a stainless steel vat, old oak or new oak barrels.  To compare these wines with a different terroir, we also tasted a Chapelle wine that is ageing in oak.


The day finished with us each having a go at blending these four wines.  Using measuring cylinders, we blended several different wines to better understand firsthand the different characteristics that each can bring to a finished wine.

Many thanks to all of the participants and to Marc for sharing his passion of winemaking with us.

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Wine vinification in Chablis

Last weekend, we were in Chablis for a couple of Vinification Experience Days at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.  It's the third and last in the series of visits for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, with the aim to learn about the work of the winemaker from harvest time right up to bottling and labelling.

In the morning we visited the cuverie to follow the path that the grapes, juice and wine take.  First we saw the area that the grapes are received during the harvest and put into the presses.  Pierre, from Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, explained how the presses work and how the juice is then put into the vats.


Wine gift in France. Visit an organic winery in Chablis


Pierre told us about the alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation processes.  The 2013 wines have all finished their first fermentation, and are now starting the malo-lactic fermentation which will soften the wines.   We stopped in front of the vat containing this year's Boissonneuse wine for a first taste of the wine that the clients of the 2013 vintage will receive next year, once the ageing has finished.  At this stage, the wine is still a little cloudy, which is completely normal.  The wine is far from being finished, but we could taste a nice concentration and equilibrium.


Wine-making gift in Chablis.


Once the ageing has finished, the bottling takes place in the next door building.  Pierre showed us the line of machines that are used to clean the bottles, bottle the wine and insert the corks.  The bottles then move to the labelling machine before being boxed, ready for transit.  It's a very impressive set-up to see!


Wine Gift for a wine enthusiast. Visit of the wine bottling machines.


We also organised several workshops around wine tasting.  To hone our skills, we started with a workshop to help identify the aromas that can be found in white wines.  This can be quite frustrating when you know you know a smell, but can't put a name to it!  We then tasted some sweet, salty, acidic and bitter flavoured water to feel how these different tastes act on the tongue.


Wine tasting gift for wine lovers.


We were now better prepared to taste the wine.  We blind tasted three series of wines to try and identify the differences.  The wine tasting continued over lunch with different vintages of the Boissonneuse, the Chablis chosen for the Wine Experience.


Wine Tasting Gift of Chablis wines


After all of the wines tasted, it was good to get some fresh air!  We walked to the Boissonneuse vineyard to see the adopted vines and to take a few pictures.


Rent-a-vine gift in Chablis, France


Back at the winery, we went down into the cellar to see the exposed cut of the ground to better understand the kimmeridgian soil that gives Chablis wines their specificity. We finished the day with a tasting of the 2012 Boissonneuse wine.  This wine is almost at the end of its ageing process and will soon be bottled.


The cut of rock


Many thanks to all you participated in the day.

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Blending wines in Bordeaux

We spent the first weekend of February on the banks of the Garonne river for a couple of Vinification Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage.  After working in the vineyard and the harvest, this third day of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience picks up where we left off after the harvest and takes us through to the bottling of the wine, with particular attention paid to the art of blending.

Wine Making Gift in Bordeaux France.

We started the day in the chai with Christine Nadalié, the château's winemaker.  She explained how the grapes were received during the harvest and how the grape juice was transformed into alcohol during the fermentation process.

Vineyard Tour in Bordeaux, France.

Next door, in the barrel room, Chrsitine told us about the work done whilst the wine is ageing such as stirring the lees and topping up the barrels.  Christine comes from a family of coopers, and so she let us in on the fascinating world of barrels and the harmony between oak and wine.

Wine lover gift. Adopt-a-vine and get involved in making your own wine

Once we had visited the chai, the plan was to visit our adopted vines.  However on the Saturday it started to pour down with rain at that point so we changed the plan.  On Sunday, we got booted up and braved the mud to take a look at our vines!

Rent-a-vine gift in France.

The Vinification Experience Day is where we taste the most wine.  To help us describe what we are tasting, we organised a workshop to help us identify the aromas that we can find in the wine.  It's not as easy as you would think!

Original wine enthusiast gift.

We then tasted three wines that are still in the process of ageing.  Each wine was from the same grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, picked on the same day from the same plot of vines, but each had been aged in a different type of barrel.  It's amazing to smell and taste the marked differences between the three wines.

Hands-on wine tasting course in Bordeaux, France

To accompany the lunch, we tasted several of the Bordeaux Supérieur and Haut-Médoc wines produced at the winery.

Lunch and wine tasting at the winery in Bordeaux


The afternoon was dedicated to blending, using the four principle grape varietals grown at Château Beau Rivage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  First of all we tasted each grape varietal separately to appreciate the individual characteristics that each brings to a blended wine.


Wine blending gift, Bordeaux, France.

In small groups, we then made several different blends to understand for ourselves how we can make completely different styles of wine.

At the end of the afternoon, each group chose their best blend to present to Christine and the rest of the group.

All in all a day rich in information, aromas and tastes!

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Vinification and Ageing of wines in Burgundy

Last Saturday and Sunday we were at Domaine Chapelle in Santenay to learn more about the vinification and ageing of wines during the Vinification Experience Day.


Wine Course Domaine Chapelle Burgundy


Following an introduction to the winery and the Chapelle family, we started with a workshop to hone our senses in preparation for the different wine tasting sessions to come. With the help of some small sample bottles, we had to try and identify the aromas that can be found in wine, either naturally from the fruit and terroir, or those that are introduced during the ageing of the wine in oak barrels. It's not always very easy to do!


Wine course aromas tasting

We then worked on our palate to recognise the different feeling that sugary, salty, acidic and bitter flavours have on our tongue when we taste wines.


Wine tasting Domaine Chapelle Burgundy

After the workshops, we went into the cuverie and cellar to learn more about the fermentation of the wine after the harvest, and their subsequent ageing. We tasted some wines straight from both new and old barrels to learn firsthand the different impact that they have on the wine.


Winemakers meal Burgundy Domaine Chapelle

During lunchtime we tasted a range of wines from the winery before heading back down into the cuverie for a last exercise in blending wine. Even if Burgundy is a region of single grape varietals, the wines are sometimes blended if different parts of the same vineyard plot are harvested and vinified separately. At Domaine Chapelle, this is the case with the Clos des Cornières vineyard where the adopted vines of Gourmet Odyssey clients are located. There are three distinct areas, with three different ages of vines. We tasted each of the wines separately, and then had a go at trying different blends to try and find the perfect mix!


Wine blending Burgundy Chapelle

We finished the day with a visit to the Clos des Cornières vineyard to meet the adopted vines, and to take a few pictures for the "My Vine" photo competition.


Vine adoption Burgundy Domaine Chapelle

Many thanks to all the participants for their good humour and to Jean-François and Yvette for the passionate explanations!

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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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