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Archive from May 2015

A great Experience Day in the vineyard at Château Beau-Rivage


The sun and a warm welcome helped ensure that we spent two very enjoyable Discovery Experience Days at Château Beau Rivage in Bordeaux. After breakfast, we gathered together to learn the programme for the day, which was to be spent mainly in the vineyard to learn about the work on the vines to produce the best possible grapes come harvest time.

The team at Château Beau Rivage introduced us to the winery, the Bordeaux Supérieur and Haut-Médoc appellations, as well as the different clay and gravel terroir that the different vineyards enjoy.

Wine experience gift in Bordeaux

In the 8ha plot of vines behind the château, we learnt how to identify the different grape varietals by the form of their leaves, and saw the difference in the two pruning techniques used in the vineyard, Guyot Double and Cordon.

Before getting stuck in with some work, we stopped for a few minutes in the plot of vines where our adopted vines are to be found, the time to take a few pictures of our vines.

Rent a vine in France, Bordeaux

It was the time to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in with two missions. Firstly to lower the training wires, and then to remove any unwanted shoots from the trunk of the vines. Under the watchful eye of Christine on Sunday, the owner of Château Beau Rivage, and of Sandrine on Saturday, the chai manager, we learnt about the importance of this work to help improve the quality of the future harvest, and hence the wine that will result from it. So, armed with a pair of secateurs and lots of good cheer, we each took a row in pairs, and lowered the training wires so that the weight of the foliage and grapes will then be better supported, and we removed the shoots that will not produce fruit, but will sap the energy and nutrients from the plant.

Vineyard experience in Bordeaux

After the effort comes the reward! Back at the winery we tasted the Clairet rosé wine before moving onto the reds. We tasted the Benjamin, Château Beau Rivage, Clos la Bohème and Clementine/Le Phare wines over lunch. Honey tomatoes, melon and ham with the aperitif, followed by a salmon duo, tomato and mozzarella salad. For the main course we had some succulent chicken cooked at low temperature with a cep sauce, and potato and shallot fondant. We finished the meal with some basque cheese and strawberry and orange tartlets.

Wine lover gift in Bordeaux

Fully revitalised, we then headed back out into the vineyard.

In the afternoon, we picked up where we had left off, and learnt about the work that remains to be done in the vineyard from now until the harvest. We talked about working organically, and what that means for the winemaker in the work in the vineyard and chai.

In the fermentation hall, we had a quick introduction into the vinification and wine-making side of the profession. How the grapes are received during the harvest, how the wine ferments, is racked and the aged in oak barrels up until they are ready for bottling.

Original wne gift in France

A couple of days full of information. As well as leaving with a few bottles of wine, we hope that each of the participants learnt a little bit more about the work that goes on behind the scenes in making wine.

Many thanks to the team at Château Beau Rivage for sharing their devotion to their profession with us, and to all of our participants for a couple of thoroughly enjoyable days.

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

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De-budding the vines at Domaine la Cabotte


We were spoilt by the fantastic weather for the latest of the Discovery Experience Days at Domaine la Cabotte. After a coffee and warm welcome by the winemakers, Eric & Marie-Pierre, we gathered outside for an introduction to the day that we were to spend together in the vineyard.

Vineyard experience in Rhone Valley, France

Eric & Marie-Pierre presented the winery and enlightened us on the local red and white grape varietals, the Massif d'Uchaux appellation and their approach to winemaking, before leading us out into the vineyard. Eric showed us the different grape varietals and how to tell them apart. In the background, the birds were singing, and then suddenly, a hare jumped up onto the dry stone wall!

Original red wine gift in France, Rhone Valley

Eric & Marie-Pierre led us to a plot of vines that they had earmarked us to work on. They explained the importance of de-budding to reduce the number of buds per vine, and hence the number of grapes produced. This will help the grapes to have a better balance of sugar, acidity, tannins and aroma come harvest time. They showed us how to de-bud, and then in pairs, we each took on a row!

Weddig present wine in Rhone Valley

Once we had finished, Eric told us about the other work that has been keeping them busy in the vineyard since the last harvest, notably the pruning. After the de-budding will come the raising of the training wires as the vines grow taller and taller.

Wine experience in Rhone Valley, France

On our way back to winery, Eric showed us the enclosure where he prepares the biodynamic treatments used in the vineyard, and he introduced us to this fascinating topic. We started the wine tasting with a nice refreshing white and rosé wine, before sitting down to enjoy the lunch, that Marie-Pierre had put together specially for us.

Wine lover gift in Rhone Valley

A deliciously seasoned tomato and rocket salad to start, accompanied by the Colline Cotes du Rhone 2014 red wine. For the main course, we savoured a traditional Caillette, served with potatoes and a tomato sauce, served with the Garance red wine. We then enjoyed the winery's Chateauneuf du Pape wine with cheese, before finishing with a red fruit clafoutis for dessert.

Adopt a vine in Rhone Valley, France

We then put our boots back on and headed off to the vineyard again, this time to meet our adopted vines! Once we had taken a few photos to immortalise the occasion, Eric explained a little bit more about the terroir and characteristics of the Massif d'Uchaux region and showed us the different types of soil, some more stony than others.

Personalised bottles of red wine in France

At the end of the day, we visited the chai where Eric gave us an overview of how the wines ferment and are worked during the vinification period. Many thanks to Eric & Marie-Pierre for this great day!

Other articles relating to the work in the vineyard

A review of the work in the vineyard for the 2015 vintage

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