Adopt a Vine and Make Your Own Wine

with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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The wine-making and ageing process for Chinon wines


We were able to organise the Gourmet Odyssey Experience Days in June and meet up again with our adopted vines!  After more than a year’s wait for some, we were eager to learn more about the art of wine-making and ageing wines at the winery.

Marc Plouzeau, the wine-maker and owner of Château de la Bonnelière, welcomed us over a coffee, and introduced us to his family history at the winery, which covers some 30 hectares, spread out along the left bank of the Vienne River.  The wines are all made organically, most of them falling into the Chinon appellation.

Winery tour with the winemaker in Chinon, France

We had a busy programme in store, and to start with, we split into two groups.  The first visited the chai with Marc, and the second stayed with Louise for an initiation into the art of wine tasting.

To better understand how the wine-making techniques that Marc chooses to use impact the wine, it’s good to learn or refresh our wine-tasting skills, and so we tasted two different wines, breaking it down into steps to analyse our use of sight, nose and taste.

Wine making experience at the winery in france

We then tried to link that up with Marc’s explanations in the chai.  He covered all of the steps and work done during the fermentation and ageing phases.  Each wine is made to bring out the best of the terroir where the grapes are grown, and Marc explained the different choices he makes to age the wine in vats of barrels.

We headed to the fantastic cave beneath the Chinon fortress. At the entrance, we enjoyed lunch in the sun, pairing different Touraine Sauvignon and Chinon wines that Marc makes with the courses.

As tempting as the siesta was, we then went into the cave to put into practice what we had learnt in the morning.  Marc uses the cave to store and age his barrels of wine, as the conditions are ideal for a cellar, the temperature and humidity remaining the same all year round.

Wine tasting in a cellar in Chinon, Loire, France

We had the privilege of tasting the 2020 wines that are still in the ageing process, comparing wines aged in a vat, new and old barrels, and a press wine.  We noted how even though the wines hadn’t yet finished their ageing process, they each had very different characteristics.

Many thanks to Marc for sharing his vast knowledge and sharp wit!

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