Adopt a Vine and Make Your Own Wine

with the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

Visit www.gourmetodyssey.com for more information

Archive from June 2022

Become a wine-maker for the day in the Loire Valley


In May and June we welcomed some of our adopt-a-vine customers to Château de la Bonnelière in the Loire Valley to discover the work of the wine-maker in the vineyard.  These hands-on wine experience days enable us to spend the day with the wine-maker and get involved in the seasonal work.   As we were to learn, it’s a very busy time of year in the vineyard, and so our help was very welcome!

 

Learning about the work in the vineyard during the Discovery Experience Day

 

Each of our days start with a short time for all of the participants and the wine-maker to get to know each other over a coffee and croissant, and to talk about our favourite subject – wine!

Once all of the participants had arrived, it was time to get down to more serious matters, starting with the programme of the day and the activities that we could look forward to.  At this stage of the vine’s lifecycle, we’re in the “green work” phase, and Marc was very pleased to have a few extra pairs of hands!

Before getting started, we headed out into the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard where our adopted Cabernet Franc vines are located.  Cabernet Franc is THE grape varietal for Chinon red wines.  We checked that the vines were well, and that they hadn’t suffered from the frost or the more recent hail storm.  Fortunately the vineyards at Château de la Bonnelière escaped the storm which proved to be so severe for some of the nearby wineries.

After the photo shoot for the “My Vine” photo competition, Marc explained the work that had been carried out in the vineyard so far, and the work to be done. It was then time for us to get stuck in.

 

The wine-maker explains the work to be done in the vineyard

 

For the Discovery Experience Day in May, we removed the shoots that had sprouted from the vine trunks.  These young shoots take away energy from the vine, and won’t produce any grapes, so it’s best to remove them to improve the quality of the grapes on the fruit-bearing branches.  Our hands, a spade and sickle were the tools for the job!

 

Removing the shoots form the vine trunks

 

In June, the foliage had grown much more thanks to the warm and sunny days.  We then moved onto the next job to be done which was to remove some of the leaves from around the grapes.  This ensures that the grapes receive more sun and a better air flow around them to dry them after any rainfall.  Marc removes the leaves only from the side that is facing the rising sun, as it is softer in the mornings, whereas in the afternoons the grapes need some shade from the stronger sun to avoid being burnt.

 

Removing the leaves

 

These two jobs kept our participants busy until it was time for the welcome aperitif, enjoyed in the shade of the château’s walls in the inner courtyard.  We learnt more about the winery, the château, and of course the wines that we continued to taste and enjoy throughout lunch.  Marc explained his philosophy for making wines, and how he tries to capture the expression that each of his different vineyard plots gives to his wines. 

 

Tasting the wines over lunch in the old barn at the château

 

After the delicious lunch and with the warm sunshine, it was difficult to get up from the table, but the stroll in the vineyard was good for our digestion!  We visited a plot of young Sauvignon Blanc vines that had been planted last year to replace the existing plot that had suffered badly from a wood disease.  The young vines are developing well, and will start to be pruned and harvested next year.

 

Visiting the fermentation hall

 

The end of the day approached, and so we went to the fermentation hall for a quick overview of what happens to the grapes once they are harvested. 

We look forward to welcoming you back for the Harvest Experience Days in September or October, and the Vinification Experience Days next year!

Add a comment

Learning about the work in the cellar to make wine


We enjoyed hosting the Vinification Experience Days at Château de la Bonnelière in the charming Loire Valley town of Chinon.  It’s the last of three types of day proposed in the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, the theme being to discover the work of the wine-maker in the cellar to make, age and prepare the wines for bottling.

 

Wine Experience Days in the Loire Valley to discover the work in the cellar

 

The days started at the entrance to the winery’s cellar, located in the centre of Chinon, directly beneath the fortress.  It’s a breathtaking place, and we enjoyed a coffee and croissant outside in the warm sunshine.

Marc explained his family’s history and that of the winery, and then talked to us about the Chinon wine appellation and the vintage that is currently ageing in the cellar, bringing us all up to speed, ready to start the day!  The aim was to understand all that happens after the harvest, and the choices that the wine-maker takes to shape the taste, structure and aroma of the wine.

The cellar is used to age the wines in the barrels until they are ready for bottling and drinking.  Marc uses French oak barrels between 400l and 600l, which are larger than standard barrels so that the wine isn’t as marked by the wood.

The wines are made according to the vineyard plot and type of soil.  In Chinon, there are three principal soil types: sand, clay limestone, and flint.  Each type of soil gives a different style of wine, and so Marc adapts the choices he makes accordingly.  The wines from the sandy soil are aged in vats, the majority of the clay limestone wines are aged in oak barrels for 12 months, and the flint wines are aged in oak barrels for between 24 and 30 months.

 

Tasting wines from the barrel

 

We had the privilege of tasting some of the wines that are still undergoing the ageing process, which is something that is very rare to do.  As the wines weren’t yet finished, they held a few surprises for us!

It had been a full morning, and Louise added a few additional explanations on the history of the cellar and the Chinon Fortress.  We then made our way to Château de la Bonnelière, where Claudine, Marc’s wife, and the sun were waiting for us, along with a nice fresh glass of sparkling wine, in the château’s courtyard.

 

Tasting wines in the château’s courtyard

 

We then sat down to lunch in the barn, and revelled in the different courses and locally produced asparagus, goat’s cheese and strawberries, accompanied by Marc’s delicious wines.

Difficult afterwards to get up from the table, and as much as some of us would have liked to settle down to a nice siesta, we headed out to meet our adopted vines in the Clos de la Bonnelière vineyard.  This is the historical plot of the winery and was planted in the 1980’s by Marc’s dad.

The fermentation hall was the next stop to see where the grapes are received at harvest time, and how they are transformed into wine during the fermentation and maceration stages.

 

The vats and barrels used in the fermentation hall

 

Marc explained his secrets for making good wine : Time, care, and love of what you are doing...

The day finished with a visit of the room used to bottle and label the wines, bringing to a close a great time spent exchanging knowledge, ideas, laughs and opinions.  We love spending these moments with you, and look forward to seeing you again in Chinon or at another of our partner wineries soon. 

Add a comment

A Wine Experience day with the winemaker to discover the art of blending wines


We spent a fantastic Vinification Experience Day in Saint-Emilion at Château Coutet.  This hands-on wine course is the last of the days that Gourmet Odyssey offer and is focused on the work in the cellar to ferment, age, blend and bottle the wines.

 

A Vinification Experience Day in Saint-Emilion to discover the art of making wine

 

Our hosts for the day were Benoît, the Gourmet Odyssey wine expert, and Alain, the winemaker and owner at Château Coutet.  We shared a coffee and croissant to get to know each other, whilst Benoît explained the order of the day.  Alain then started to recount the family’s relationship with the winery.  It’s a magical place and full of history as Alain represents the 13th generation of winemaker there from his family.  The tradition is set to continue as his son and nephew joined him a few years ago.

We were then led into the fermentation hall to pick up where we left off during the Harvest Experience Day.  We learnt about the work during the fermentation and maceration phases, Alain replying to the many questions that arose.  We then went through to the barrel room where the 2021 vintage is currently in the ageing process.  Alain explained how he monitors the wines, and keeps the barrels topped up to replace the angle’s share that is lost to evaporation.

 

Learning about the fermentation of wine

 

To better understand the role of a winemaker, Benoît had organised a wine tasting session for us.  He taught us the basic principles to ensure that we had a common language to describe the wines, and then we set about tasting several different series of wines.  We honed our senses and gained in confidence to describe the sensations that we were experiencing.

 

The wine tasting workshop

 

We finished the morning with a wine blending workshop to better appreciate the characteristics that each grape varietal brings to a wine.  We then had a go at making our own blends and tasted our different wines!

 

Wine blending workshop

 

Our taste buds were fully awake for the tasting of the winery’s finished wines, and we started with the Claret de Coutet, a wine that is mid-way between a red and rosé, and refreshed our palate after tasting all those red wines that are still in the ageing process.

 

The organic Saint-Emilion wines tasted during lunch

 

We then sat down to lunch, where Benoît served us a glass of the 2019 Château Belles-Cimes with the Landaise salad.  It’s the second wine, made using the grapes from the young vines.  It’s not made every year and is a wine that can be drunk a little earlier than the winery’s first wine.  We tasted the 2017 and 2019 vintages of the Château Coutet wine with the magret de canard main course.  It was very interesting to compare the two vintages and see the difference that two extra years ageing in the bottle brings.    We finished lunch with the 2018 Demoiselles wine, which is a blend of two different plots on the limestone plateau that are worked by hand and with the help of a horse. The meticulous work, combined with the great terroir, gives a magnificently deep wine. 

In the afternoon, we returned to the vineyard to visit our adopted vines that are located in one of the winery’s lest plots up on the limestone plateau, just a few hundred metres from the bell tower in Saint-Emilion.  It’s a fantastic place, and we each took a few minutes to immortalise the moment and take some photographs. 

 

Visiting our adopted merlot vines

 

We finished the day in the storage cellar, where Alain explained the last steps involved before the wine is ready to leave to the winery, covering the bottling and labelling processes.

 

Visiting the cellar where the wine is labelled and stored

 

Many thanks to Alain for his warm welcome and for having given us such a deep and frank insight into his job as a winemaker.

Add a comment

Share |
RSS

About the blog

The Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience

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

From € 169 154

Tags

Adopt-a-Vine Ageing Biodynamic Blending Burgundy Experience Fermentation Gift Grapes Harvest Making Organic Pruning Tasting Vine Vines Vineyard Wine Winemaker Winery

All Tags

Categories

Archive

Last Comments

Links