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Archive from August 2022

The 2022 Gourmet Odyssey harvest gets underway in Burgundy


We welcomed our apprentice wine-makers to Domaine Chapelle in the Burgundy village of Santenay for the Harvest Experience Days on the 27th, 28th, and 29th August.  2022 is a very early year due to the high temperatures of the last few months.  Our objective for the days was to pick the grapes, follow their journey into the vat, and to learn about all the work in the cellar during harvest time.  There’s more to harvesting than just picking grapes!

 

The Gourmet Odyssey apprentice wine-makers participate in the Harvest Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy

 

After an introduction to the day and the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, and of Domaine Chapelle’s history, we walked to the “Clos des Cornières” and “Les Crays” vineyards, where the adopted pinot noir and chardonnay vines are to be found.  

 

Meeting the adopted vines

 

We took a few minutes to say hello to our adopted vines, and take some photos for the “My Vine” photo competition.  A magnum of Santenay wine is up for grabs!

After this fun start, it was time to get down to the more serious business of harvesting, and so we gathered in the Clos des Cornières vineyard where the beautiful bunches of grapes from this exceptional vintage were waiting.

 

The top quality grapes waiting to be picked

 

Climate-wise, the last couple of years have been challenging, and so we were delighted that the 2022 vintage had produced such good quality grapes, and of a normal quantity!

Jean-François and Simon gave us each a pair of secateurs and explained how to pick the grapes, which ones to harvest and which to leave on the vine.  The ripe grapes are located at the bottom of the vine and, as we quickly noticed, the vines in Burgundy are very low to the ground!

In pairs, we each took a row and started the harvest.  First we removed the leaves around the grapes to see them better.  This makes it much easier to cut the bunches without taking our fingers with them!

 

Our harvesters in action

 

We put the cut grapes into crates, which is the best way to harvest pinot noir due to their delicate skin.  The crates avoid the grapes being squashed by the weight of other grapes above them, ensuring that they arrive in the cellar in the best possible condition. 

Harvesting is a physically demanding job as our backs and legs could testify!  But it’s also very rewarding and satisfying to see the rates full of delicious grapes!  And to arrive at the end of the row!

 

Our lovely grapes in the crates

 

Once the crates were full, we brought them back to the beginning of the row to be taken back to the winery in the van.

After the effort, our reward was a lovely glass of chilled 2020 Santenay Villages white wine which we enjoyed in the garden, accompanied by the famous  Burgundy gougères.

 

The 2020 Santenay Villages white wine aperitif

 

We then sat down to enjoy lunch.  Poached egg on a bed of mushrooms, veal risotto and potatoes, and a framboisier to finish.  The courses were accompanied by a Burgundy Aligoté, a 2019 Santenay Clos des Cornières, and a 2016 Santenay Les Gravières Premier Cru.  All delicious!

In the afternoon, we made our way to the sorting table to participate in the process involved in putting the grapes into the vat.

 

Sorting the grapes

 

We learnt how the work is organised around the sorting table and we got involved.  The quality was so good this year that we didn’t have a very stressful job!  We did however have to remove some of the grapes that had been scorched and had dried out due to the drought, but fortunately there weren’t very many.

We then went down into the fermentation hall, one floor below. The grapes that had been separated from their stalks by the de-stemming machine fall into a trolley using the power of gravity.  Once the trolley is full, it is pushed next to the vat to be filled, and the grapes poured into a vertical conveyor belt, known as the giraffe, which carries the grapes up into the vat without the need for a pump.

 

The grapes are carried into the vat using the giraffe

 

This method of putting the grapes into the vat treats the grapes very gently, keeping each individual berry as intact as possible to start the maceration phase before fermentation starts.

For three days, the harvested grapes are kept cold during the initial maceration stage, and then the temperature is warmed to allow the fermentation to begin.  This will last for approximately 10 days.  At the same time, the maceration continues and the tannins and colours are extracted by pigeage and pumping over.  The maceration phase lasts for around three weeks.

Then comes the time to separate the wine from the solid matter, and to put the wine in the oak barrels to start the ageing process which will last for around one year.  We’ll learn more about the rest of the work in the cellar after the harvest and up until bottling during the Vinification Experience Days in spring next year.

And so the day drew to a close and having collected some bottles of wine for the most part, we parted company, promising to come back soon to discover more of the Burgundy terroir in Santenay!

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The key steps involved in wine tasting


Who hasn’t thought how great it would be to taste wine like a professional sommelier?  Gourmet Odyssey shares a few tips with you to amaze your friends with when you next share a bottle of wine!

Step 1 : The look

The first step is to place your glass of wine above a clear white surface, ideally in the light.  You’ll be able to judge how clear it is based on the number of particles that are held in suspension, and gauge its level of acidity.  If you can see thick tears form on the inside of the glass, it’s a sign that the wine is full-bodied, and inversely if the tears are finer and flow more quickly, the wine is likely to be more acidic.

 

Analyse the robe

 

You can also pick up some clues regarding the wine’s age to indicate whether the wine is likely to be young or old.  For red wines, the colour changes from bright red or purple for the youngest wines to a rusty colour for the older ones.  And for the white wines, from pale yellow or even green to a deep amber colour.

Step 2 : The nose

This phase is done in two parts.  Without moving the glass, place your nose over the glass and take in a big sniff. This is known as the first nose.  Then swill the wine carefully around the glass a few times to oxygenate the wine and liberate the less volatile aromas before sniffing again.  This is known as the second nose.  Often, there is a big difference between the first and second noses.

 

Smell the different aromas in the wine

 

There are different types of aromas; primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas.  The primary aromas come from the grapes themselves, and there are a wide range of smells such as floral ones (acacia, honeysuckle, jasmin, rose, lilac etc.), fruity aromas (pineapple, apple, lemon, mango, peach, apricot, raspberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, etc.), vegetal aromas (aniseed, thyme, grass, pepper, fennel etc.), or spicy aromas (cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, etc.)

The secondary aromas come from the fermentation, and we can find three distinct types.  There are those that are produced by the fermentation process such as brioche, yeast or biscuit.  There are also the milky aromas such as butter, yoghurt or milk, and the alcoholic aromas such as boiled sweets, nail polish, or banana.

The tertiary aromas develop during the ageing process, several months after the harvest.  Oak barrels give woody aromas such as cedar, oak, vanilla, and eucalyptus, spicy aromas such as pepper, cinnamon, and liquorice, or toasted aromas such as toast, coffee, grilled almonds, or tabaco.

Step 3 : The taste

 

Taste the wine

 

When finally getting to the tasting stage, take a small amount of wine in the mouth, breath in a little air between the lips, swill the wine around the mouth, then breath out of the nose to let the taste and aromas to develop, before swallowing the wine or spitting it out.    
There are three moments to take note of:
-    The attack.  What impression does the wine give the moment you take it into your mouth?  It can be weak, strong, or intense.  
-    The mid-palate.  Analyse the texture of the wine and the aromas.  Is it smooth, acidic, are there any new aromas that have developed since step 2?
-    The finish.  Once you’ve swallowed the wine, what sensation prevails, and how long does the taste last?  If there are lots of tannins present it will have a longer finish, and a wine that is fruitier is likely to have a shorter finish. 

Using our senses is very important in tasting wine, and by following these stages, you will be able to comment on a wine more easily, and to compare it with others.  Wine-tasting skills improve with practice and remembering the characteristics of the wines that you have previously tasted.  You can always use a notebook to write down your thoughts.  And remember the two most important things when tasting wine.  It starts with “I like the wine, or I don’t”.  And secondly, we all have our own perceptions of smell and taste, and so it is remains very subjective!

To develop your wine tasting skills further, you can participate in a Vinification Experience Day and learn directly from the winemaker and a Gourmet Odyssey wine expert.  Each of the partner wineries are organically certified, and the wine-making course teaches you about all that happens in the cellar from the harvest, right up until the moment when the wine is ready for drinking  During the day, you’ll see how the fermentation phases change the structure of the wine, participate in a wine-tasting workshop to help you develop your senses, taste wines that are in the ageing process, and get involved in blending different wines.   

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