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Archive from January 2015

Being an organic winemaker in 2015

At the start of a new year, all is still imaginable and possible for 2015. The biggest organic wine fair in the world, Millésime Bio, shortly takes place from the 26th to 28th January, and all of our partner winemakers will be there. We took the opportunity to ask them what their vision and expectations were for organic winemaking in 2015. Here is a synopsis of their responses:
Wishes from Domaine la Cabotte Mondragon France

Why did you convert to being organic?

For Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, organically converted since 1999, and also biodynamically certified in some of their vineyards, it's a work philosophy before anything else. "To simply best express the quality of an exceptional terroir by respecting our working and natural environment."

Jean-François Chapelle, owner of Domaine Chapelle, converted the entire estate of his vineyards in 2009, and explained that "for the vines to convey the secrets of the soil through their grapes, the winemaker must respect life; the life of the soil and the life of the vine by excluding chemical weed-killers and fertilisers, and the human lives to stop the development of professional illnesses linked to farming such as cancers, asthma, and skin diseases." Converting to organic farming methods happened naturally at the winery in the continuity of "the Chapelle family history of producing terroir wines."

At Domaine Stentz-Buecher, the arrival of Stéphane, son of the owners, to the winery in 1995 brought a different vision of balancing work and nature.  They officially started the certification process in 2007 and received organic status in 2010.

But watch out, ironises Ghislain d'Aboville, owner of Domaine Allegria, who started the journey to be organically certified in 2008. "Not all winemakers are born into a vineyard and not all of their parents reared goats in the Larzac after 1968!" In his case, there is of course a philosophical reason, "the book by Marie-Monique Robin, and the film Le Monde Selon Monsato were the catalyst." But there were also family considerations. "We're happy that our children can gorge themselves on grapes during the harvest without worrying about chemical treatments which we don't use."

Wishes from Domaine Allegria Pézenas France

What has changed for you since converting to organic winemaking ?

For some, such as Eric Plumet, who together with his wife, Marie-Pierre, own Domaine la Cabotte. They converted organically in 2002 and biodynamically in 2006, and for them the answer is "the sense of no longer working against nature but with nature. To respect the living and to put everything in place to enrich this life in our soils, our vines and our wines. We've developed our powers of observation and our ability to work naturally."

The effects are also visible in the vineyards for Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard and "the vines have regained strength, know how to better defend themselves against disease, and produce more constant yields."

At Domaine Allegria, they have gone further than just the vineyard, and introduced an organic vegetable patch in 2014 and will add an organic chicken run in 2015.

For Domaine Stentz-Buecher : "Above and beyond respecting the official organic charter, we are also seeking the best quality. We voluntarily reduce the yields, are extremely selective when sorting the grapes and vinify our wines naturally."

Wishes from Domaine Brocard Chablis France

What are the things you are looking forward to this year ?

Our partners are awash with new projects for 2015:

  • The acquisition of a new plot of vines of Santenay Premier Cru Beaurepaire for Domaine Chapelle.
  • Training the teams and developing the buildings at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard to welcome and share their vision of winemaking with more visitors.
  • The start of a social responsibility certification and a new rosé wine that will be fuller and even more seductive at Domaine Allegria
  • The arrival of Etienne, the son of Marie-Pierre and Eric at Domaine la Cabotte, who will start working with them, and a new very old plot of Grenache vines in Châteuneuf du Pape, which are cultivated organically and are undergoing biodynamic conversion.

What are your wishes for your winery and team in 2015?

The wishes of our partners are fairly unanimous concerning 2015, "to go even further organically to respect the environment" at Domaine Chapelle and to "help increase awareness of organic wine in France and internationally" at Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.

Domaine la Cabotte reminds us that we should indeed wish for, "generous conditions to give us the best possible wines because one should never forget that we can only work with that which nature provides us weather wise."

And not forgetting the importance to our winemakers of sharing great moments with their clients. We wish you an excellent millésime, lots of Allegria, and to share this joy with those around you.

More information on our partner winemakers


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The Patron Saints and Wine

The Saint Vincent tournante in Burgundy is nearly upon us once more, and will take place on the 24th and 25th January 2015. This year we'll be celebrating 900 years of the Cistercian monks' presence in the Burgundy vineyards! Over the course of history, wine and religion have often been closely linked. Did you know that there are more than 30 Saints, other than Vincent, who watch over the vines and the winemakers? Vernier, Martin and the others ... who are?
Saint Morand de Cluny

Throughout the year, different Saints are called upon and feted at critical moments in the vine's growth cycle. For example, Saint Morand de Cluny, celebrated on the 3rd June, notably in Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace, protects the vines from late frosts, and helps ensure a good flowering season. It became legend when his priory was short of wine one day for his guests, and so he made the sign of a cross on a barrel which immediately filled up with wine! The Saint Vincent marks the end of the winter rest of the vines, even if nowadays, the whims of the weather cause us to sometimes question the tradition.

The great diversity of the Patron Saints hails from the religious traditions and books that recount the life of martyrs, where wine is often used to signify spilt blood. But in the more down to earth cases, the Saints can often be traced back to the origins of winemaking in certain regions. It was Saint Martin, for example, that is said to have introduced vines in the Loire Valley in the 4th century, and that his donkey discovered the benefits of pruning. At the Marmoutier Abbey near Tours, the brave beast munched upon a few vine branches. The following harvest, the monks noted that despite being fewer, the grapes were much fatter, and of a much better quality on the vines that had nourished the donkey.

Saint Verny

Another well known figure to winemakers is Saint Vernier, the French adaptation of the German Saint Werner. He was assassinated in 1287 and his body found on Good Friday. He was considered a martyr, and his cult appeared in the 16th century in Lorraine and the Franche-Comté regions of France as part of the German Saint Empire. In Auvergne, he is known as the Saint Verny and he was honoured until the 19th century. But he was unable to do anything to protect the vines from the phylloxera, and the angry winemakers threw statues of him in the Allier forest or in the village fountains. It's not always easy being a Saint!

In the 20th century, the Saint Vincent following has become the most widespread. Saint Vincent, the Deacon and Bishop of Saragossa, died under torture in 542. His story says that during the 542 siege of Saragossa, Childebert, the King of France, and Clotaire, the King of Soissons, were touched with pity towards the inhabitants who had formed a procession behind the relics of Saint Vincent. They exchanged the relics for a lifting of the siege. The relics were moved to Paris and laid in the Sainte-Croix-Saint-Vincent Abbey, which has now become Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where the monks cultivated vines. And a patron Saint is born! Since 1938, he is honoured once a year by the knights of the Tastevin in Burgundy.

The 2003 Saint Viencent Tournante in Burgundy

Many other traditions remain to this day. For example on the 15th August, Assumption Day, the first fruit from the vines are offered to the Virgin Mary. Vine, wine and the Saints are intimately linked, but is not the only example of gastronomic patronage. To name but a few, Saint André the Patron Saint of fishermen and fish, Saint Antoine du Désert, the Patron of charcuterie and pig farmers, and Saint Honoré, the Patron of bakers, pastry cooks and confectioners.

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Our partner winemakers awarded at the Millésime Bio organic wine fair

The 22nd Millésime Bio wine fair for professionals of the wine trade gets underway next week, gathering together 800 organic winemakers from all around the world. During the show, the winners of the Challenge Millésime Bio 2015 wine competition are honoured, and this year sees two of Gourmet Odyssey's partner vineyards win awards.

All of our partner winemakers attend the wine fair. It's one of the annual not-to-miss events to meet professional clients, to present new vintages, and to search for new prospective clients. It's also the chance to catch up with fellow winemakers and to exchange on new techniques concerning organic winemaking.

Challenge Millésime Bio 2015 France

Challenge Millésime Bio is the international organic wine competiton of the Millésime Bio wine fair, and is presided over by a well known member of the wine trade. This year the honour was bestowed on Toshio Matsuura, a journalist from the Japanese wine and spirits magazine Wands, to direct the tastings.

The wine tastings took place on Tuesday 25th November 2014 at the Mas de Saporta in Lattes, near Montpellier. The jury tasted some 1250 samples and the winners have recently been announced.

Millésime Bio Organic Wine Faire in France

Congratulations to two of our partner winemakers who received gold and bronze for the wines selected by Gourmet Odyssey for the Wine Experience.

  • Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy has been awarded a gold medal for the Clos des Cornières 2012, the wine chosen for Gourmet Odyssey's adoptive parents. The winery also saw its Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot 2012 win bronze.
  • Domaine la Cabotte in the Rhone Valley was selected for bronze for its Garance 2013 Cotes du Rhone Villages. This is also the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.

And finally, a special mention, also for Domaine la Cabotte, for having its Garance 2012 wine picked by the Revue du Vin de France wine magazine as one of Millésime Bio's "revelations", and as being a wine "to buy with your eyes closed!"

You'll find a complete listing of the Challenge Millésime Bio 2015 winners here.

You can find other accolades recently bestowed on our partners here.


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Adopt a vine for an original St Valentine’s gift

Christmas only just seems to have finished, and already it's time to try and find another imaginative gift idea for St Valentine's day for your loved one! But not to worry. We have a couple of great suggestions for Saint Valentine's that will amaze and put a twinkle in the eye of your Valentine! If you are looking for a personalised wine gift that stands the test of time, adopt some organic vines in France.
Offer an original wine experience gift for St Valentines' day

Our Wine Experience will immerse your partner in the life of a French organic vineyard. Through the newsletters and photos, your other half will discover the work carried out by the winemaker from the vine to the bottle, and follow the key stages in making their own personalised bottles of wine.

And if your beloved is the type of person who likes to get involved in the heart of the action, you can include a Discovery, Harvest or Vinification Experience Day, so they can visit their vines and participate in the work. Depending on the type of day chosen and the time of the year, they'll prune, de-bud or harvest the vines, or discover the fermentation, ageing, and blending processes.

The winemaker is present at each day to explain his or her work, to share their passion, and to present their wines for tasting during a winemaker's meal of local produce. Each wine experience day is valid for two people, giving a great excuse for a romantic weekend break in France.

Offer a wine tasting and personnalised bottled for St Valentine's day

All of our partner wineries are organically certified, and are selected for the quality of their wines and the enthusiasm of our winemakers in talking about their profession. It all makes for an unforgettable experience for any couple to get away, open a few nice bottles of wine, and to be able to explain how the wine was made.

A lasting and original Saint Valentine's gift for any gourmet or wine enthusiast who is curious to learn what it takes to make a simple bottle of wine. A wine experience that you'll remember for a long time to come!

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Best Wishes for 2015!

So another year closes and a new vintage gets under way. Whilst the vines rest for the winter and our partner winemakers prepare for a new campaign, we wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all the best for 2015!

As we commented recently in our blog, 2014 was a year full of surprises, so we wait eagerly to see what 2015 holds in store for us.

But one thing that is certain, is that we're looking forward to meeting up again with our clients, old and new, and sharing more passionate and fun moments together with our winemakers.

We hope that 2015 blesses you with a great vintage , and that it brings you all the adventures you desire.

Good health and good cheer for 2015!

The Gourmet Odyssey Team

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Adopt a Vine in France and Follow the Making of Your Own Wine !

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