Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Little Maconnais Goats (cheese) and Delicate Wines (June 15th, 2011)

Making wine is hard work and a serious commitment. We visited Jean-Christophe’s vineyard—Domaine Perroud, as an example of Burgundian vineyard and winery. The grapes grown in this region are primarily pinot noir and chardonnay. We learned about the impact of soil, climate, and each region’s terrain on the quality of the grape. In Burgundy, the soil is primarily limestone and each row of vines is covered with gravel in between the vines in order to get sugary grapes. The gravel helps absorb the heat for the cooler nights, and prevents a majority of other plants growing next to the grapes, so that the grapes can get maximum nutrients from the soil. From the soil, we learned about the harvest in August and how the grapes are juiced and destemmed mechanically using modern stainless steel equipment. Red wines differ from white wines because the skin [containing the pigment that gives the color] is fermented with the juice as opposed to only fermenting the juice for a white wine. Usually red wines are aged in oak barrels while whites are kept crisp in stainless steel vats. Temperature, pressure, and humidity are controlled as much as they can by the wine producer to make sure that that he/she gets the taste that he/she would like to sell the wine as. Different grapes can be mixed in various amounts to get the desired taste and the variables seem infinite. The parts of the grape such as stems and seeds are not just thrown away, but are actually used in the cosmetic industry. Additionally, grape seeds are used to make oil!
We also had a wine tasting at the same vineyard and learned to actually spit out the wine into a bucket (see picture below).
Our picnic was also at the same vineyard by the water. We had fresh baguettes, cheeses, meats, fruits, macarons, and savory wines. Look below at the pictures to appreciate the food! I will miss having casual 2-hour lunches when I leave France.
Following the picnic, we went to a local Maconnais cheesemaker where we met the goats, the kids, and finally the delicious cheese! Most cheese in France is made from raw milk unlike the US pasteurized milk. Unpasteurized cheese are safe to eat locally since they have the friendly LAB (lactic acid bacteria—same bacteria referred to as probiotic cultures) and outcompete pathogenic bacteria since the LAB are the dominant fermenters. We tasted fresh cheeses with tiny spots of Penicillium mold as well as older entirely moldy goat cheeses. I have to say that the Penicillium [naturally occurring fungus] offers the most flavors, and hence I love old stinky cheeses. The cheese was made by mixing morning and evening goat milk with a bit of old whey as the starter culture. Whey is the precipitated solution of water, lactose, bacteria, salts, and whey protein. Whey proteins and supplements are widely used as a health shake or protein powder. Cheese, similarly to wine, is able to be very efficient since all parts of the production can be put to more use.

Below are some pictures of goats and vineyards
This little goat thought my shirt was tasty:

The Maconnais Goat Cheese

The Cheese-molds

Cheese Tasting

Maconnais Vineyards and Wine Production (with our usual wine tasting of course)

Wine tasting and the bucket


  1. I think you all have a great experience! I'm a wine lover and I do hope I can experience that too. I want to see the process of making red wines!

  2. Nice how all parts of the grape are used and not thrown away. I went to a winery in CA many years ago and they did not use the grapes in the same way. Your photos are fantastic!

  3. Red wine is made essentially the same way as whites (THE SKINS ARE INCLUDED UNLIKE WHITES IN THE FERMENTATION)....and the aging for red is usually done in an oak barrel unlike most french whites (done is stainless steel).

    Thank you for the comments! :)