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Wine Experience Days in Burgundy

During the first weekend of March, Domaine Chapelle in Santenay welcomed two groups of apprentice winemakers for two different wine experience days.  For one group it was the last in the 2012 series, and for the other the first of the 2013 vintage.  In the warmth of the reception hall, Jean François and Yvette introduced us to the distinctiveness of the Burgundy terroir and working organically.


Wine Course Gift in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

Saturday 2nd March : Vinification Experience Day

On Saturday we concentrated on the ageing and blending of the wine. With Yannick and Yvette we learnt some wine tasting techniques with a series of workshops to develop the sense of smell and taste, and found out how the wine interacts and evolves in the oak barrels.

Gift for wine lovers. Wine tasting lesson in Burgundy, France

Far from just be contained in the barrels, the wine is very active, exchanging with the wood and the air, and the winemaker must remain attentive at all times.  With the large part of the work having been done in the vineyard, the room to manoeuver is limited.
A first series of tasting enabled us to discover the different influences that new and old oak can have on the same wine.

Tasting wine in the cellar

We headed out into the vineyard after lunch to visit the adopted vines, and gave us the opportunity to see the work that had been carried out since our last visit.  The pruning has now been done, and the contrast with the luxurious green from September is striking. 

Adopt-a-vine gift in France. Organic vineyard visit in Burgundy.

Back at the winery, we tasted a few glasses of the 2012 vintage.  It's still in the process of ageing, and will soften considerably by the time it is bottled later in the year.  We concluded the day by comparing wines from the different areas of the Clos des Cornières vineyard, which are from three different ages of vines.

Wine tasting of Burgundy wines in the Cotes de Beaune, France

Sunday 3 March: Discovery Experience Day

On Sunday morning, our new winemakers launched the new cycle of the Wine Experience for the 2013 vintage.  Delighted to reveal the secrets of his profession (or at least some of them!), Jean-François welcomed us to Domaine Chapelle, happily noting that at the start of the 4th year working with Gourmet Odyssey, he still had as much to say and to teach his guests.

Jean-François recounted the history of the winery, from the beginnings with the great great uncle, the local history of the Côte de Beaune region and the influence of the Cîteaux monks, the relationship between the commercial and agricultural sides of the business, the choice of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Burgundy, and the introduction of the appellation Contrôlée in 1935...  This overview enabled us to become acquainted with the region, and to learn that winemakers don't necessarily work in the same way from Bordeaux, Mondragon or Santenay!

We started to discuss the issues and choices that a winemaker is faced with.  The decision to work organically, the fruit of a personal decision concerning the wine and its impact on the surrounding environment, has consequences that you can immediately see in the vineyard.

The rest of the morning was spent in the vineyard.  We visited several plots of vines to see the difference in pruning methods.   Which branches to cut and leave?  We don't necessarily prune the same way in all the vineyards or for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Wine Experience day in the Vineyard

We then headed to meet our adopted vines.  Once again out came the cameras!

Rent a vine in France and visit the organic vineyard.

Then back to the winery to taste the wines from Domaine Chapelle and for lunch.

In the afternoon, we visited the fermentation hall and the cellars.  It was an introduction to the winemaking side of things, quiet now, but frenetic at harvest time!  Reception of the grapes, following of the fermentation, blending before bottling...  Despite appearances, this room is rarely truly quiet.

Visit the cellar and adopt your own vines in France

We then descended into the labyrinth of cellars under the winery buildings to discover the hidden treasures.  A nice way to end the day before returning for the harvest!

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Vinification Experience Day in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

The start of the winter holiday season in France was the occasion to immerse ourselves in the world of oenology and winemaking at Domaine Chapelle in Santenay.  During this Vinification Experience day spent at the winery, we learnt about all the stages in making wine from the harvest up to bottling.

Wine Experience Gift in France. Learn how wine in made at the winery.

The day started with a workshop to put our sense of smell to the test, by trying to identify some of the aromas to be found in Burgundy wines.  Primary and secondary aromas, floral, fruity...  There are many aromas to be found in wine.  If only it wasn't so hard to put a name to them!  By using small flasks containing different aromas, the aim of the exercise was to help us express in words what we experience when tasting wine.

Wine gift idea. Smelling the aromas found in wine

After a brief stop in the labelling room, we learnt how to recognise the sensations that wine can have on our taste buds.  Acid, salty, sweet, bitter...  How do you identify these different tastes on your tongue?

The morning continued with Jean-François in the fermentation hall, then in the cellar to follow the wine's evolution since the harvest.  We learnt about the richness that the different terroir brings to the wine and how the age of the vines impacts its quality.

We learnt more about the oak barrels and how they impact the taste of the wine.  He gave us an insight into the difficult task of trying to predict how a particular year will turn out, and how to marry the right type of barrel with the wine 

Through a series of wine tastings directly from the barrel we experienced firsthand the differences in terroir and barrels used to age the wines.

Wine tasting direct from the barrel

The morning ended in the fermentation hall with a tasting of the Santenay and Meursault white wines.  Jean-François and Yvette explained how the estate had converted to become organic.

Wine Tasting

After lunch, the weather finally warmed up a little, and so we headed out into the vineyard.  The vines are in the process of being pruned at the moment, and so we learnt how this is done and how the winery is trying to encourage the vines to develop their root structure.

Before visiting our adopted vines, Jean-François showed us the different terroir of the surrounding vineyards. 

Understanding the different Burgundy terroir

Back at the winery, a few people had not just stocked up on some wine, but also filled their cars with some of the used barrels!

An early taste of the 2012 that is still ageing

The day ended back in the fermentation hall for a tasting of the Clos de Cornières wine, harvested in 2012, and which is still going through the ageing process.  Another occasion to put our new found tasting skills to test!  We were able to taste the differences that the differing ages of vines from the same vineyard have on the wine, and to get a first glimpse of how the 2012 vintage might turn out!

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2012 Harvest in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

This year's harvest at Domaine Chapelle is now over, and it was the clients of Gourmet Odyssey who finished it off!  The Harvest Experience Days were spread over four days, and with the exception of a few minutes worth of rain on one of the days, we miraculously avoided the worst of the very variable weather that Burgundy has seen in the past few weeks.

Wine Experience Gift for a wine enthusiast. Adopt a vine and harvest your own grapes in Burgundy, France

The Harvest Experience days each started directly in the Clos des Cornières vineyard, the plot where the adopted vines are located.  As is the custom, we took a few minutes so that everyone could introduce themselves to their adopted vines, and we have already received a few entries for the "My Vine" photo competition.

But to more serious matters - the harvest!  Once instruction had been given, secateurs and cases distributed, we spread out in twos among the vine rows to begin the harvest.  Our objective was to reach the wall at the far end of the clos, something that none of our clients had achieved to date.

Harvest Experience Gift in Burgundy

But 2012 isn't a year like the others.  In the vineyard it's been a very difficult campaign.  A mild winter followed by a few weeks of arctic conditions, cold and wet weather during the flowering season, and then the subsequent passing of three hailstorms have each played their part in lowering the yield.  In a normal year (if such a thing exists!), you would expect perhaps one of these events, but never all together.  As a result, there were considerably less grapes on each vine than normal, and our harvesters positively galloped through the rows.  Where several cases were filled per row last year, just one case was needed this year.  Fortunately with wine though, a lack of quantity doesn't necessarily mean a lack of quality, as those who tasted some of the grapes instead of putting them in the basket can attest to!

Back at the winery, the wine tasting was just reward!  For the aperitif, we compared a Santenay St Jean 2011 white wine with a Meursault 2010, accompanied by a few gougères, the local cheese puff delicacy.

Wine tasting session of the Burgundy white and red wines from the Côtes de Beaune

Over the harvester's lunch, we tasted some of the winery's red wines.  We started with a couple of different vintages of the Santenay Clos des Cornières to taste the red wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey cuvée, and to see how it develops over time.  We then finished with a fine Aloxe Corton.

Harvester's Lunch

From the vineyard, we picked up the trail of our grapes.  First stop the reception hall where the harvested grapes are delivered.  Here, we took up our station around the sorting table to remove any unripe grapes or bunches that had started to develop fungus.

Sorting the grapes on the sorting table

At the end of the sorting table the grapes fall into the de-stemming machine, which separates the berries from the stalks.  The grape berries then continue their fall by gravity down a slide into a waiting trolley below.

Inside the fermentation hall, we followed the end of the grapes journey into the fermentation tanks.  Here we learnt how the sugar will be transformed into alcohol, and how the tannins and colour are extracted from the grape skins during the maceration period.

Putting the grapes into the fermentation tanks

Then a quick tour of the cellar to see where our wine will rest during the malo-lactic fermentation and age for the necessary time in the oak barrels.

Cellar tour

We ended the day by sampling the grape juice that we had just harvested.  It's nice and interesting to taste, but the end product will be even better!

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Wine Discovery Experience Day in Burgundy

The vines are growing and the grapes are forming, which also means that the winemaker's work in the vineyard hasn't finished yet! We spent last weekend at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy with some of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Discovery Experience Day clients. The aim of the days were to better understand the effort and time spent in the vineyard to assure the best quality grapes come harvest time.

Discovery Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle, Burgundy, Wine Experience Gift

In the garden overlooking the vines, Jean-François Chapelle briefly told us the history of the four generations of winemakers in his family, and explained to us the different appellations to be found in Burgundy.

When we start to talk about vines and terroir, it's always easier to understand when you can look around and see with your own eyes. We therefore headed to the Clos des Cornières vineyard where we could see the different terroir that make up and surround the estate, and are used for the regional, village and premier cru wine appellations.

Adopt-a-vine in Burgundy, Terroir, Wine, Vines

From pruning to de-budding, Yannick and Jean-François showed us all of the key work that has already happened in the vineyard. We learnt and could see that it is proving to be a difficult year so far. The winter frosts, the wet and cold weather during the flowering season, and the hail storms more recently have each reduced the quantity of grapes that will eventually be harvested. But all is not lost, as the next few weeks will help determine the quality.

Grapes Vines Vineyard

At the moment, the main work in the vineyard is to train the growth between the wires. As the vines grow, we need to raise the wires to better support all of the foliage, place the vine shoots between the wires, and ensure that they are well spaced by using clips and ties where necessary.

Wine Gift Burgundy Adopt-a-vine

We took a few minutes to become acquainted with our adopted vines. A small sign designated each micro-plot of vines, and as always the cameras started clicking away!

Wine experience gift adopt-a-vine

The vines at Domaine Chapelle are organically certified, and so we also learnt how the work and treatments differ compared to traditional farming methods.

The couple of hours spent in the vineyard had made us thirsty, so we returned to the manor house to start the wine tasting. Talking about the work needed to produce the best wine is all well and good, but you have to taste the end product too! We started with two white wines produced at the winery, a Santenay St Jean and a Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot.

Wine tasting, vines, Burgundy, vineyard, winemaker

The wine tasting continued over lunch which was served in the harvester's refectory. We compared three red wines, a Santenay "Clos des Cornières", which is the wine chosen for the Wine Experience, a Santenay Premier Cru Beaurepaire, and an Aloxe Corton.
In the afternoon, we were happy to find some cool in the fermentation hall and the cellar. Here we were introduced to the wine making side of things and saw where the wines are fermented, then aged in oak barrels in the cellar. We will be spending more time here during the Vinification Experience Days.

Fermentation hall, cellar, wine, wine tasting, vines, Gourmet Odyssey

Many thanks to Jean-François and Yannick for having shared their passion for their profession with us. The next day at the winery will be for the harvest.

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Working in the Vineyard

There's much to do in the vineyard at this time of year, and the rainy weather that we've had for the past couple of weeks hasn't helped matters. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have a window of sunshine last weekend to accompany us in the vineyard during the

The Wine Discovery Experience Days at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy

We gathered in the château's garden, overlooking the surrounding vines, for the introductions. To get our bearings, Jean-François, the winemaker and owner, briefly told us the history of the region and of his family that have been making wine here for four generations.
In the Clos des Cornières vineyard, where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients are located, we learnt about the difference in Burgundy terroirs. It's easier to understand when you can look around you and see the differences rather than reading about it in a book or looking at a map.


Vines Winery Winemaker Domaine Chapelle

To make quality wine, you have to have quality grapes; something that involves much hard work and tender loving care. From pruning to the harvest, each task is important to try and obtain the best possible grapes and to limit the risk of disease. We learnt about the many tasks, often manual, and passages that are necessary. 

Quality Wine Grapes Harvest

The vines at Domaine Chapelle are organically certified, so we also learnt about the differences that entails compared to conventional farming.

In front of the adopted vines, a small chalk board identified each separate micro-plot. We took a few minutes out so that the introductions could be made with the new owners, and the photographs taken! 

Meeting with the adopted vines at the vineyard

Then the time had come to roll up the sleeves and lend a helping hand to the winery to catch up some of the lost time. The jobs of the day: de-budding and raising the training wires.

De-budding involves removing some of the non fruit-bearing shoots to better concentrate the fruits energy in the ones that will produce the grapes. Once we had been given our instructions on how to do it, we spread out among the rows and got stuck in! 


The other task to be done was the "relevage". The vine is a creeper plant and if its growth isn't controlled will spread everywhere. We had to raise the training wires and make sure that the shoots were supported on either side by a wire, and so grow upwards. It is also important to separate the shoots from the neighbouring vines, using clips when necessary. Relevage helps to protect the branches from the passing tractors, and reduces the risk of disease and rotting of the future grapes by improving the flow or air around the plant. 

Vines Relevage

By this time the thirst was beginning to set in, so we headed back to the winery to start the wine tasting. For the aperitif we tasted a Santenay white wine and compared it with a Meursault on the Satrurday and a Chassgne Montrachet on the Sunday.

Wine Tasting

Lunch was served in the harvesters refectory, and we continued the tasting with some of the estate's red wines, a Santenay Clos des Cornières, a Santenay Premier Cru and an Aloxe Corton. 

The meal of the winemaker at Chapelle

We started the afternoon in the cuverie. It's here that the grapes are received at harvest time and we were introduced to the various stages of fermentation that will transform the sugar into alcohol. 

Cuverie Wine Grapes

The day ended in with a tour of the cellar. It's a real labyrinth of passages and rooms full of wine ageing in oak barrels and thousands of bottles resting the calm. 

Visit of the cellar
Many thanks to Jean-François and Yannick for having shared their passion of being winemakers with us. We'll appreciate the next bottle of Santenay that we open differently!


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Springtime in the vineyard

We spent a sunny weekend amongst the vines in Burgundy for a Wine Experience weekend at Domaine Chapelle.  The aim of this hands-on wine course is to learn more about the work in the vineyard, a stage which is so important in making quality wine.

Wine Experience Gift. Rent-a-vine and vineyard visit in Burgundy, France

The day started in the vineyard, where Jean-François Chapelle, the owner of the winery, and Yannick Jacrot, the Technical Director, showed us the difference between the local terroir, something which is always easier to appreciate in situ than looking at a geological map! 

Tour of the vineyard with the winemaker

Yannick and Jean-François then explained the different steps taken to nurture the vines from pruning right up to the time of harvest.

The warm and sunny spring that we have enjoyed has meant that the vines are ahead of where they would normally be, and the buds have already started to appear. 

Vine buds

The vines are organically certified at Domaine Chapelle, so we spent quite a lot of time learning how the vineyard is managed and the differences involved compared to conventional farming methods.

Each Wine Experience client is the adopted owner of some vines, and so before getting down to some work, we left some time free so that everyone could introduce themselves to their vines! 

Rent-a-vine gift in a French vineyard

Yannick had left us a few rows of vines to prune, so that we could see how to do it for ourselves.  It seems easy when you listen to the explanation, but once you're confronted with a vine, secateurs in hand, it's not that simple! 

Original Wine Enthusiast Gift. Hands-on wine course in a French vineyard.

Another task that we got involved with was to use a hoe to remove the weeds from between the vines that the plough had missed. 

After the morning spent in the vineyard, the aperitif was most welcome!  We tasted a couple of the winery's white wines before lunch.  During the meal we continued the wine tasting with some of the red wines to compare different vintages and terroir.
Wien Tasting Gift in France. Wine Experience at a French winery

We started the afternoon in the fermentation hall with an introduction to the wine making side of things.  This is where we shall spend more time during the Harvest and Vinification Experience Days.

Visit of the fermentation hall

  The day ended in the cellar where we toured the labyrinth of barrels and bottles where the wine is matured and stocked. 

Visit of the cellar


Many thanks to Yannick and Jean-François for sharing their passion for their profession, and giving us a brief glimpse into the life of a winemaker.


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Harvest 2011 at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy

At last, the long awaited moment has arrived to start the harvest!  The villages and vineyards are a hive of activity.  Teams of harvesters are dotted amongst the vines from the crack of dawn, and the roads are filled with the tractors that go back and forth between the vineyards and the wineries, carrying their precious load.

We started the Harvest Experience Days for the 2011 vintage last weekend at Domaine Chapelle in the Côte de Beaune village of Santenay.

Harvest Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle in Burgundy France

As with the other French wine growing regions, the grapes have ripened early this year.  At Domaine Chapelle the first bunches were harvested some three weeks earlier than last year!

After the quick introductions, it was straight of the Clos des Cornières vineyard, home to the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience clients.  Jean François Chapelle lost no time in distributing our tools for the day, a pair of secateurs each, and a pile of crates to put the grapes into!

Containers at the start of each vine row to collect the harvested grapes

In teams of two, we spread out to take charge of a row of vines per couple, and the harvest began!  After removing some of the leaves from around the bunches, so as to better see the grapes, we used the secateurs to cut them and then we placed them in the crate.

Harvesting the Grapes from the adopt-a-vines

In such a setting it's impossible to resist the temptation of tasting the grapes!  They are looking good this year, fairly large and oh so sweet!  We noticed a few damaged bunches, either some grapes that had shriveled up from the hot sun at the end of June, and some bunches where the first signs of rot have appeared, caused by the hot and wet weather that settled over Burgundy in the couple of weeks prior to the harvest starting.

Assessing the quality of the grapes

Once we had filled each crate, we brought it back to the beginning of the vine row to be picked up later, and then took a new crate to harvest some more grapes.

Filling the crates with the harvested grapes

Harvesting is a fairly physical job, especially in Burgundy where the vines are pruned close to the ground.  The aperitif was therefore very welcome!

Back at the winery, we started the wine tasting session with a Santenay "St Jean" 2009 white wine, followed by a Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru "Morgeot" 2009.  As is the custom, the wines were accompanied by some gougères, a local specialty!

Wine tasting Burgundy wines from Domaine Chapelle

During the meal, we continued the tasting with some of the winery's red wines; a Santenay "Clos des Cornières" 2007, followed by an Aloxe Corton 2007 to compare two pinot noir wines of the same vintage but from different terroirs.  We ended with a Santenay Premier Cru "Beaurepaire" 2002.

After lunch, we met back up with our harvested grapes, which had since continued their journey to the reception hall.  Here the crates, brimming with grapes, are received and emptied onto the sorting table.  Side by side with the professional team, and once again equipped with a pair of secateurs, we separated the damaged or unripe grapes from the ones which are to be used to make our wine.

Sorting the good from bad grapes on the sorting table

We saw the de-stemming machine at work which separates the grape berries from the stalks.  The stalks and rejected grapes are collected in a trailer to make compost.

The discarded stems headed for compost

The sorting table is located above the fermentation hall, and so the good grapes continue their journey down a slide where they are collected in a trolley before being taken to one of the fermentation tanks.  Each plot of vines is vinified separately.  Yannick Jacrot, the Technical Director, and Jean François Chapelle then explained the first stages of fermentation to us.

Filling the fermation tanks with the harvested grapes

We then headed down the stone steps into the cellar to see where the wines will continue their fermentation and ageing in oak barrels.

Visiting the wine cellar

All this made us thirsty again, so we had a final refreshment waiting for us; some grape juice from that day's harvest!

A big thank you to all those who shared the day with us, and especially to Jean François and his team for welcoming us so warmly during the busiest period of the winemaker's year!

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Home Straight to the Harvest

We had to be flexible last Saturday with the Wine Discovery Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle to avoid a few showers, but that didn't stop us having a good time all the same!

Understanding the vineyards and terroir of Burgundy

We started off with a little stroll through the vines.  Jean-François Chapelle explained what makes the Burgundy terroir so special, and showed us the geological differences between the vineyards that make up Santenay village, Santenay Premier Cru and the plots used for the Burgundy Pinot Noir.

We climbed up to one of Domaine Chapelle's Premier Cru vineyards, Beaurepaire.  Some of the old vines in this vineyard have recently been dug up, so Jean-François explained how his team removed the vines and roots, and how the plot will be sowed with mustard to regenerate the soil before the new vines are planted.

Visit of the Fermentation Hall

The first rain shower arrived a little earlier than expected, so we scurried back to the shelter of the winery to continue our discussions on the work carried out in the vineyard, and we also visited the fermentation hall where the grapes are received at harvest time and put into the fermentation tanks.

Wine Tasting of Burgundy Wines at the winery

Next up was a wine tasting of some of the white Burgundy wines from Domaine Chapelle, a Santenay "Saint Jean" 2009 and a Chassgane Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Morgeots" 2009.  The wine tasting continued over our lunch of Burgundy specialties.  First, a Santenay "Clos des Cornières" 2006, the wine chosen for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience, then an Aloxe Corton 2007, with a Santenay Premier Cru "Beaurepaire" 2002 to finish.

Rent a vine in a Burgundy vineyard

After the meal, we had a new bright patch, so we headed back amongst the vines, this time to the Clos des Cornières vineyard so that everyone could get acquainted with their adopted vines!

Visit of the wine cellar

Back at the winery, we descended through the low door to the vaulted cellar which is a real labyrinth.  Here we saw where the ageing takes place in the oak barrels, and where hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine are stored!

The Wine Labeling Room

The Wine Experience Day finished with a visit to the labeling room, where one day next year the bottles of the 2011 vintage will be dressed with the personalised wine labels of the clients of the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience.  But there's still lots of work to be done before then - you have to be patient in the world of wine!

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De-budding in Burgundy

Under the blue skies of Burgundy, we spent last weekend at Domaine Chapelle with some of the Wine Discovery Experience Day clients.  The aim of the day is to learn more about making wine in a very practical way and to get behind the scenes to find out what it's really like to be a winemaker.

Watch the video (french langauge)


Burgundy vineyards

After the initial introductions, we headed straight out into the Clos des Cornières vineyard, where the adopted vines of the clients are located.  With the panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards, Jean Françcois Chapelle began by explaining the difference in terroir between the vine plots used for Premier Cru, Santenay village, Burgundy red, and Santenay village white wines.  Something which is much easier to understand with the landscape in front of you than by looking at a map!

Cultivating the vines organically

We learnt about all of the key stages in cultivating the vines from pruning, treating the vines organically, right through to when the grapes will eventually be fully ripened come harvest time.  Much like the other wine producing regions of France, Burgundy has had a very warm and sunny April, which means that the vines are currently some 3 weeks in advance of a normal year.  It's still too early to predict exactly when the harvest will be, but it will almost surely be sooner than usual.

The difference betwwen Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Vine Leaves

The adjacent vineyard is planted with Chardonnay vines, so we took a look at the difference in the vines, the different pruning methods used and compared the foliage of the pinot noir and Chardonnay vines. 



Back in the Clos des Cornières vineyard, time to get down to some work!  The essence of a Gorumet Odyssey Wine Experience Day is to learn about wine making by touching, seeing, doing, tasting and smelling.  Jean François had left a few rows of vines to be de-budded.  He explained the importance of removing some of the vine shoots to concentrate growth in the future fruit-bearing shoots, which will help improve the quality of the grapes, and showed us how to select which shoots to break off.  Easy! We each settled in front of some vines, looked at each shoot, remembered what Jean François had told us, and then froze as the realisation of the responsibility that had been placed upon us hit home. No-one wants to choose the wrong shoot to detach!  Luckily Jean François and Yvette Chapelle were at hand to guide us, and soon the pace of activity increased!

Rent-a-vine sign in the Burgundy vineyard


Signs had been placed in the vineyard to mark where the adopted vines of each client are located. Time was set aside to search out each client's mini plot of vines.  The cameras came out, various poses were adopted, some set about weeding around their vines, and others even started murmuring sweet nothings to encourage their fertility!

Wine tasting in the courtyard Domaine Chapelle, Santenay, Burgundy

After the effort, time to head back to the winery for a well earned aperitif!  In the shade of the courtyard, we began the wine tasting, accompanied by some Gougères, a delicious cheese pastry specialty from Burgundy.  We started with Domaine Chapelle's Santenay "St Jean" 2009 white wine, a crisp and mineral chardonnay from the upper slopes above the domaine that we had seen from our time in the vineyard.  Next we tasted the Chassagne Montrachet  "Morgeot" Premier Cru 2008 white wine, a more fruity and complex wine.

Lunch, including boeuf bourguignon and local cheeses, was served in the reception hall, whilst the wine tasting continued with the red wines. First a comparison of the Santenay Village "Clos des Cornières" 2009 and 2006 (the wine selected for the Gourmet Odyssey Wine Experience), followed by the domaine's Aloxe Corton 2007, and finally the Santenay "Beaurepaire" Premier Cru 2002. 

Visit of the fermentation hall

The cool of the cuverie and cellars awaited us in the afternoon.  First an introduction to how the grapes are received at harvest time, sorted, and ferment in the tanks.

Visit of the cellars

Ducking our heads, we descended into the vast cellars where the 2010 wines are currently ageing, and some 130,000 bottles are stocked.  Jean François explained the ageing process, and the choice of oak barrels used.

The wine labelling station

The visit ended with an explanation of the bottling and labeling stations, the final stage in preparing the wine before it is packaged up and dispatched to be enjoyed far and beyond the small village of Santenay!

A very warm thanks to Jean François and Yvette for sharing their passion with us, and for giving us an insight into the many and varied facets that make up the life of a winemaker.

Watch the video (french langauge)


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Wine Tasting of the 2010 Vintage during the Vinification Experience Day at Domaine Chapelle

Last weekend saw us travel to Santenay in Burgundy for the Vinification Experience Days at Domaine Chapelle.  During each day, we participated in an in-depth wine tasting course, alongside the winemakers, to discover the key stages of fermentation and ageing of the wine, and to better understand the notion of terroir.

Oenology course in Burgundy at Domaine Chapelle

The Vinification Experience Day is the most technical oenology course of the wine experience days offered by Gourmet Odyssey, and most of the time is dedicated to wine tasting.  We therefore headed straight to the cuverie (fermentation hall), and after a brief explanation of how the grapes are received and put into the tanks at harvest time, we learnt more about the fermentation process.

Tasting sugar, salt, acid, and bitter solutions

To prepare us for the wine tasting to follow, Yannick, the Technical Director at the wine estate, had prepared a little test: four numbered cups, each containing a sugary, acidic, salty or bitter solution.  The game was to guess which was which.  Not the most appetising drinks, but as Jean-François Chapelle, the owner of the winery, told us, wine tasting is a work tool!  He also explained the importance of the five senses when tasting wines; smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing.

Wine tasting direct from the barrels

In the cellar, we began the tasting of the 2010 vintages, using a pipette to draw the wine directly from the barrels.  The côte de Beaune region of Burgundy uses just one grape varietal in the makeup of its wines, pinot noir for the reds and chardonnay for the whites.  The wines we tasted were chosen to highlight the difference in terroirs and the impact that the choice of oak used in the barrels has on the wines.   The first comparison was between wine from the same vines, from the same vineyard plot, and of the same age, but aged in different barrels.  The second comparison showed us the difference in terroir, comparing two Premier Crus, Santenay "La Comme" and Santenay "Beaurepaire", which hail from two different vineyards with differing geology and relief.

Blending wines from different aged vines

Climbing back up from the cellar, we stopped at the bottling machine before arriving at the final test.  This time we were presented with three wines, each coming from different plots in the same vineyard, the Clos des Cornières, where the adopted vines of the Gourmet Odyssey clients are located.  As well as their situation, the vines also varied in age, so we could also compare the impact on the wine.  One of the wines was more advanced in the ageing process than the others, one more fruity, and the last had a longer finish.  Using measuring cylinders, we played with different proportions of these three wines to make our own blends.  We tasted some great blends, but unfortunately the doses were not always remembered!

We passed the labeling machine as we headed back to the reception hall for the aperitif of Santenay white wine and gougères, a local specialty.  During the meal we tasted other regional fare such as beouf boruguignonne, and Epoisses cheese, and continued the comparisons of the estate?s wines with a Clos de Cornières 2009 and 2006, an Aloxe Corton 2007, and a Chassgane Montrachet Premier Cru 2007, before ending with an old marc de Bourgogne with the coffee.

Introduction to the adopted vines

After all that, we needed to take in some fresh air! Off we headed into the vineyard to inspect the work, and to give each person the chance to (re)introduce themselves to their adopted vines!

Thank you to all for two enriching and enlightening Vinification Experience Days.

Link to video (video available in french language only) 

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The Saint Vincent Tournante 2011 in Corgoloin

The annual wine festival, the Saint Vincent Tournante, will be hosted by the Burgundy village of Corgoloin on the 29th and 30th January, 2011.  Corgoloin is one of the villages that make up the Côte de Nuits appellation.

Poster for Saint Vincent Tournante 2011 Corgoloin Burgundy

The Saint Vincent Tournante dates back to the middle ages to pay homage to the patron saint of winemakers, Saint Vincent of Saragossa.  The festivities had almost disappeared until the founders of the "Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin", wine brotherhood, relaunched the tradition in Burgundy in 1934.  By the end of the 1990?s, the festival was so successful that it attracted over 100 000 people over the weekend, making the event unmanageable logistically and financially. 

Today, the festival has been reduced in size, but there were still some 40,000 visitors last year for the Saint Vincent Tournante 2010 in Chassagne Montrachet.
During the festival, a procession is led through the selected village on foot, with each of the 80 wine brotherhoods "confréries" being represented by people in costume and their statues of Saint Vincent.  The procession is followed by a religious mass and a traditional meal of pig for the families of the members of the brotherhoods.

The other big event of the weekend is the wine tasting of the wines selected for the Saint Vincent Tournante.

If you are planning on going, make sure you reserve your accommodation well in advance!


More information on the Saint Vincent Tournante can be found on the following site:

Confrérie des Chevaliers de Tastedevin

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