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Archive from March 2022

Learning to prune the vines in Burgundy


We welcomed some of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience apprentice wine-makers to Domaine Chapelle in the Burgundy village of Santenay.  The objective of the day was to learn about all of the work in the vineyard to produce the best grapes come harvest time.
After a short introduction to the history of the family and the Burgundy wines from Jean-François, the owner of the winery, his son, Simon, led us out into the vineyard.  Simon is in the process of taking over the reins at the winery as Jean-François approaches retirement.

 

Visiting our adopted vines in Burgundy

 

The first contact with our adopted vines brought many smiles, laughter, and some great photos to be entered into the “My Vine” photo competition!
It was then time to get down to more serious matters, and Simon began to explain the work carried out during the various vegetative phases of the vines growth.

 

work in the vineyard with Gourmet Odyssey

 

At this time of year, we are busy with the last of the pruning and pulling away the cut branches that have remained stuck between the training wires.
Simon showed us the two different pruning methods used in the vineyards.  The cordon de royat used for the pinot noir vines involves keeping three or four spurs, each with two nodes, from one of last year’s branches.

 

Adopt a vine in burgundy with Gourmet odyssey

 

And the Guyot pruning method is used for the chardonnay vines, leaving just one long branch with 5 to 6 nodes, that will then be folded and attached to the lower training wire.
In both cases, this year’s fruit-bearing branches will grow vertically from the nodes, and will be supported between the training wires once the growth is sufficient around May time.
Pruning is a very technically demanding task, and is only carried out by the winery’s permanent staff.  A team of seasonal workers will then pass through the vineyards, pulling away the cut branches caught between the wires and burning them as they go.
We had a go at pulling away the old branches ourselves, and quickly understood the difficulty of this manual job.  As the vine is from the creeper family, it has lots of tendrils that wrap around the training wires, making it hard to pull them free.  The not so clement weather added to the difficulty, as we found out!
We were happy to return to the shelter of the cellar after our vineyard experience, and enjoyed a typical Burgundy aperitif with a glass of Santenay Village white and some delicious gougères!

 

Tasting the Santenay white wine with Gourmet Odyssey

 

A typical Burgundy lunch of boeuf bourguignon followed, paired with Ladoix, Santeany Clos des Cornières, and Santenay Gravières Premier Cru wines
Lunch is always a very convivial moment, and it’s always a little complicated to get going again in the afternoon!  We altered the programme slightly due to the weather, to visit the cellar where Simon explained the different vinification and ageing phases.  We also visited the magnificent vaulted cellar underneath the winery that is typical of the Burgundy region.

 

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It was a good introduction to the Vinification Experience Day that some of the clients will be following up with.  And for those who wish to, it’s also possible to add the day.

We had a great day, and hope to see you again soon for another wine experience day.

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Learning about planting vines and the work in the vineyard in Saint-Emilion


We met up last weekend at Château Coutet in Saint-Emilion for a Discovery Experience Day with Gourmet Odyssey, the aim being to better understand all the work necessary in the vineyard to produce the best possible grapes, because to make good wine, you need good grapes!

Adopt a vine in Bordeaux and get involved in making your own personalised bottles of organic wine

We started to get to know each other over a coffee and croissant with Adrien David-Beaulieu, one of the owners and winemakers of the winery.  His family have been running the estate for over 400 years, something that is very rare for this famous Bordeaux wine region that has attracted many investors who buy up family-run wineries to promote their brands. One of the peculiarities of Château Coutet is that it has always been organic.  We were privileged to be in a place that has been preserved from intensive farming techniques, and where each action is carried out with the respect of nature and the biodiversity in mind.

Benoît, the Gourmet Odyssey wine expert, introduced us to the programme and our task for the day, the planting of new vines.

After distributing the tools, we walked through the vines, admiring the rare wild tulips that thrive here.  The radii tulip, bright red in colour, and the yellow sylvestris tulip were both brought to the area by the Romans many years ago and are now extremely rare.  They have been preserved at the winery because no chemical weedkillers have ever been used in the vineyards. Instead, the grass is either mowed or ploughed to keep it in check.

 

adopt a vines in Bordeaux with Gourmet Odyssey

 

At the top of the limestone slope, Adrien stopped to show us the view and explain the different terroir that make up the Saint-Emilion wine region.  Merlot is the king grape varietal here, and thrives on the limestone plateau, accompanied by some cabernet franc, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon vines.

In front of our adopted vines, we understood a little better the life of our vines, and what work lies ahead in nurturing them up until the harvest.

Our adopted vines are located in the Peycocut vineyard up on the limestone plateau, just a few hundred metres away from the village and surrounded by the most famous Grand Cru Classé names of the Saint-Emilion appellation.  The view is fantastic, particularly on this nice day that heralded the beginning of spring.

 

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Our job for the day was to replace some of the missing vines.  When tilling the soil, sometimes the metal plough can damage the vines which then subsequently wither and die.  At the end of winter, they need to be replaced, before the buds start to burst.

In pairs, one person prepared the baby vines by trimming the roots to enable them to better take hold in the soil.

 

Prepare the vines for planting with Gourmet Odyssey

 

The other person dug the holes for the vines in the places that Adrien had pointed out.  Everyone then got their hands dirty by planting the vines and pressing down the earth around them.

 

Planting the vines with Gourmet Odyssey in Bordeaux

 

By the time we’d finished, it was the end of the morning and time for the aperitif!  We enjoyed a nice glass of the Claret de Coutet, a refreshing wine that is somewhere between a red and a rosé wine.

The Gourmet Odyssey caterer had prepared a delicious lunch for us, starting with some foie gras and port jelly, that had been paired with the 2019 Château Belles-Cimes, the second wine that is made using the younger vines and grapes from lighter terroir.

 

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The 2017 Château Coutet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru was the next wine to be tasted, and is made up from the three different types of terroir at the winery; the limestone plateau, the clay hillside, and the more sandy plain, and the four grape varietals.  It’s longer finish and more pronounced aromatic intensity was perfect with the duck breast.  Our tasting ended with the fantastic 2018 Demoiselles wine, made from the oldest plots of vines that are worked by horse up on the limestone plateau.  A deep wine with lots of finesse, it went very well with the caramel desert.

After lunch, Adrien explained some of the advantages and challenges of working organically, and we then visited the chai and private cellar where the family keeps their old vintage wines dating back to the 1950’s.

 

Visiting the family cellar Château Coutet in Bordeaux

 

We’d spent a very enjoyable afternoon in Adrien’s company, and we look forward to coming back to this magical place for other Discovery Experience Days later in the season, and for the Harvest Experience Days in September time.

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Make your own organic Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet wine at Chateau Cohola


We’re delighted to present the wine-makers at the latest partner winery to join the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  Cheli and Jerome are the owners and wine-makers at Château Cohola in Sablet and you can now adopt some organic vines in the Cotes du Rhone in the stunning setting next to the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Chateau Cohola is located on the slopes that make up the great terroir of the AOC Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet.  This boutique winery is organically certified and has 4 hectares of vines planted on 15 terraces, made up of Syrah and Grenache Noir for the red and rosé wines, and Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne for the white wines.  The vines take up half of the winery, the other half being used for the olive, truffle, and cherry trees, and the bee hives for producing the winery’s honey.

We met up with Cheli & Jerome to ask them a few questions for our wine-maker profile series and to get to know them better. 

Discover how to make organic wine in the Cotes du Rhone

Cheli and Jerome, how long have you been wine-makers?

Our journey has always been intimately linked to wine.  We studied wine related courses at university and then pursued careers with Bordeaux and Burgundy wine merchants before finally ending up in the Rhone Valley. After creating our wine merchant business in 2002, we decided to buy a winery in Sablet in 2013, and so Château Cohola was born.

What has been your journey since you took over the winery?

Since taking over the winery in 2013, we have developed the organic methods used, drawing on the natural habitat that surround us.  Over the years, we have painstakingly restored the 15 terraces of the vineyards.  Our other passion is beekeeping.  We have around a hundred bee hives that produce delicious lavender and wild flower honey. We also have olive and cherry trees.

What is your best memory so far concerning the winery?

A few instantly come to mind.  Perhaps the strongest memory, and one that was a turning point for the winery was meeting an exceptional shepherd which in turn led to us welcoming his flock of sheep to graze on the grass in our vineyards.  The complicity between the animal and the vegetal showed us that nature was in equilibrium.

We also get a thrill at the end of June when the vegetation is in full development and the photosynthesis in full flow as the cicadas sing.

The harvest period is also a very exciting time in the year, a physical period, but also very motivating as it’s the result of a whole year’s work.  It symbolises the unfaltering effort and diligence of each of us in nurturing the vines through to harvest time.

And more recently, welcoming the actor Jean Dujradin to film a scene in the vineyard for his latest film was an unforgettable experience.  We were very happy to have been able to share some time with him on the set of “Les Chemins de Pierre”.  One of the scenes was filmed just next to the plot where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey apprentice wine-makers are located.

What are your principal projects or challenges for the coming months?

The main challenge that our wine-making region is facing is how to adapt to the changing climate and the chronic water shortage that is setting in.  Our organic vines are better prepared in periods of drought, but we need to go further in the research of the farming and wine-making techniques that we use.  We have had very little rain since the beginning of the year, and that has repercussions that can delay the bud burst and reduce the yield.  We need to study the use of irrigation, not to boost production, but to support the vines.  By evaluating the humidity, the water storing capacity of our soil, and studying weather patterns, we will be able to determine the irrigation system that is best adapted to supporting our vines.

On the wine-making side of things, we are very happy with the launch of our new, limited series, “TBF” wine.  It is a blend of our three types of ageing methods used.  T for “Terre” (earth) because some of the wine is aged in an earthenware amphora.  B for “Bois” (wood) and the 500 litre oak barrels from the Seguin-Moreau cooperage used for some of the wine.  And F for “Fer” (iron), and the stainless steel barrel used to age the remaining wine.  After blending and bottling, the bottles are sealed using the bees wax from our hives.

A question that our clients often ask. What do winemakers do when they have a little time to themselves?

Time is always short, but rest is always necessary.  To keep in touch with nature I do Nordic walking, and as a couple we regularly do pilates and yoga.  We also like to cook and receive guests.  Whether its family or friends, it’s essential for us to share our experiences and slices of life.

Learn more about adopting vines at Château Cohola

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