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A day behind the scenes to learn about the work in an organic vineyard


We met up at Château Coutet in Saint-Emilion for a Gourmet Odyssey Discovery Experience Day.  The aim of the day was to learn about the winemaker’s work in the vineyard to produce the best possible grapes.

 

A Wine Discovery Experience Day at Château Coutet in Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

 

Alain, the owner and winemaker, welcomed us with a coffee and some pastries.   Alain is the 13th generation of winemaker at Château Coutet, his family’s history there starting some 400 years ago.   He is now proud to work alongside his son and nephew who have joined him in running the winery. 

We started with a walk through the different terroir that make up the winery to better understand this prestigious Bordeaux wine, and the different grape varietals that are grown on the estate.

At the top of the hill that looks down over the Dordogne Valley, we stopped to take in the magnificent view and then learnt about the winemaker’s work in the vineyard during winter to prune the vines. It’s a fascinating job, but also very complex as we were to learn.

 

Meeting our adopted vines

 

The plot of Gourmet Odyssey adopted vines was located nearby, on Saint-Emilion’s limestone plateau, rubbing shoulders with some of the most prestigious names.  We each found our micro-plot of vines, thanks to a slate nameplate that had been placed in front of them.  We all took some photos of this magnificent setting, and some came up with original ideas for the “My Vine” photo competition organised by Gourmet Odyssey in the hope of winning a magnum of wine!

It was now time to get down to some work.  The task of the day was to raise the training wires, trapping the branches between them in the process.  This ensures that the tractor can continue to pass freely through the vineyard to treat the vines and protect them from mildew and odium.  It’s quite an easy job, but the intense heat made us aware of how the weather can have a big impact on the winemaker’s work.

 

Raising the training wires

 

The Claret de Coutet wine was welcome refreshment back at the winery after our efforts in the vineyard.  We then sat down to lunch and continued to taste different wines.  The winery’s second wine, the 2019 Château Belles-Cimes gave us an introduction into the more classic Saint-Emilion red wines.  It’s made using the young vines and is less fruity and less tannic than the longer 2019 Château Coutet that we tasted afterwards.  We ended the tasting with the magnificent 2018 Demoiselles that is a truly great wine that will further improve with age.

After the delicious lunch, we regrouped in the shade of the old oak tree to listen to Alain talk about the benefits and challenges of cultivating the vines organically.  He also explained the work still to do in the vineyard before the harvest, at which time we will return for the Harvest Experience Days.

 

Visiting the private cellar containing the old vintage bottles.

 

We ended the day with a visit of the cellar which is one of the more rustic ones to be found in Saint-Emilion, and a tour of the family cellar that stores the old vintage bottles from the winery, the oldest of which dates back to 1945!

Many thanks to Alain for his good humour and his explanations of the vineyard, family, and his daily life of being a winemaker.

Comments

  • Thanks for the organisation of this Discovery Experience Day at Château Coutet and particularly to Alain for his warm welcome and for sharing his knowledge with us throughout the day to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to be a winemaker. Many thanks to all for the unforgettable day!

  • The wine experience day at Chateau Coutet was excellent in every way. My wife and I appreciated the full programme, and the interaction with the winemakers and the other participants. We’ll be sure to taste wine very differently from now on, and eagerly await our wine from our vines!
    Thanks again for everything.

  • A warm welcome, lots of interesting information about the work in the vineyard, on working organically. Great organisation of the day, a lovely meal! We had a brilliant day.

  • We had a brilliant day yesterday with Benoit, Alain and the other guests. Benoit in particular took great care of us and was very kind. After nearly 30 years working in service with Body Shop, Nike and Peloton we know what a great experience looks like. Best day ever!

    My wife gifted me an experience day at the Chateau Coutet via Gourmet Odyssey for my 50th birthday in 2020, but sadly the pandemic delayed the event. I’m really happy to say that the team at Gourmet Odyssey were very kind and delaying our visit was no issue at all. We finally managed to travel to Bordeaux and St Emilion this June and it was so worth the wait.

    We had a brilliant time from start to finish with Benoit (Gourmet Odyssey) and Alain (vineyard owner) in a group of 3 other couples. We were greeted with coffee and pastries at the chateau, then took a vineyard tour which involved hearing about all the natural processes and also pruning vines.

    We visited the actual vines my wine will come from and gave them some special words of encouragement...

    Wine tasting and storytelling during an excellent lunch and some much needed shade was brilliant before finally learning more about organic wine business.

    And the highlight of the day for me, a back stage tour of the wine cellar, which made me very jealous! Benoit looked after us perfectly all day and kindly translated into English where needed.

    This was a truly memorable day hosted perfectly by Alain, Benoit and Gourmet Odyssey. Thank you.

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