My first Masterclass at the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2020 was about the wines from the Languedoc region produced by Gérard Bertrand and moderated by Anthony Gismondi. Gérard Bertrand is the ambassador of the fine wines of Languedoc-Roussillon around the world and owns 16 estates with their unique terroirs in the region. The Languedoc has, in general, had a poor reputation, with people viewing the wines as lower quality. That myth was strongly vanquished with this seminar. Gérard loves his vineyard land with passion and enthusiasm for over 30 years and is a strong promoter of biodynamic viticulture. It shows in his wines. He asserts that you feel the freshness in biodynamic wines.
He was born in Narbonne in the Languedoc and still lives there. His father taught him how to make wine, and he and his sister spent many summers working in the vineyards. So he is very familiar with the Languedoc and its potential.
The Languedoc has been growing grapes for wines for 24 centuries (Greeks planted grapes around 550 BC) and produces 5% of the world’s wine. The Languedoc also produces two times more rosé wine than in Provence. Now, the French actually drink more rose wine than white wine. That is quite amazing.
Gérard’s first biodynamic vineyard was at his Cigalus estate, which he then extended to his other estates, and now has 2500 ha under biodynamic cultivation. He has noted that the roots for his vines go deeper and that the soil is softer underfoot. He noted that with climate change biodynamic methods help the vines to survive, but can only go so far and that we need to look at which grapes are best for the changes in climate for each area in the world.
For Gérard blending wines is a passion. He wants to show a sense of place in his blends. In his blends, he seeks to achieve a perfect balance in the wines. Part of that blending process is to follow the biodynamic calendar and to only blend wines on Fruit and Flower days. Roots days are never used for blending as the wines do not express themselves properly. To demonstrate the quality of his wines, following biodynamic principles, Gérard poured the following of his wines for us:
- Clos du Temple Rosé 2018
- Domaine de L’Aigle Chardonnay 2018
- Chateau l’Hospitalet Grand Vin Blanc 2018
- Cigalus Blanc 2018
- Domaine de Villemajou Rouge 2017
- Domaine de L’Aigle Pinot Noir 2018
- Cigalus Rouge 2017
- Clos d’Ora 2016
- Chateau de Villemajou Grand Vin Rouge 2015
- La Forge 2017
My Tasting Notes
Clos du Temple Rosé 2018 – A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Viognier, and Mourvedre. The bottle is specially made for this wine and is shaped like a temple or a church. For Gérard, each type of grape represents some structural element of a temple or a house. Grenache represents the core structure of the wine. Cinsault is the column, Syrah is the wall, and Viognier is the roof. Gérard feels that Grenache makes the best rosé wine. This rosé wine has a light fresh nose with aromas of apricots, sweet stone fruits and a touch of herbaceousness. It has a pale orangy brown pear skin colour. It has a medium-plus body, is round and soft, and slightly off-dry. Medium acidity with a dry finish. Light flavours of red fruit, crisp apples and red cherries, along with touches of minerality and floral. A bit peppery on the finish. Medium length. –
Domaine de L’Aigle Chardonnay 2018 – This wine comes from the AOP Limoux which is higher elevation, a cool climate, and ideal for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir according to Gérard. It has a bright lemon colour. Deep ripe aromas of peach, honey and marmalade. It has a medium-plus body, is round and soft, with medium acidity and a silky mouthfeel. It has light fresh peach and floral flavours with some marmalade on the finish. –
Chateau l’Hospitalet Grand Vin Blanc 2018 – This wine is made from the AOP La Clape; Clape translates to rock and in this case limestone. Limestone provides freshness and acidity to a wine. This is a blend of Vermentino, Roussanne, Viognier, and Bourboulenc. It has a deeper intensity bright lemon colour. Strong aromas of honey and pears. It is full-bodied, round with lighter acidity and a silky mouthfeel. Soft flavours of pears and lemons, with a hint of sweet spices and some toasted nuts and pepperiness on the finish.
Cigalus Blanc 2018 – A blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. As in the last wine, this one has a deeper intensity bright lemon colour. A light white floral, peach and honey nose. Full-bodied, round and silky with soft acidity. Pronounced flavours of stonefruits, ripe pineapple and butterscotch. Gérard suggests that this white wine will still be drinkable in 15-20 years. –
Domaine de L’Aigle Pinot Noir 2018 – This wine is 100% made from Pinot Noir grapes. These are older vines, planted in the 1980s and are located in the IGP Haute Vallee de l’Aude where there are big diurnal temperature differences to preserve the fruit flavours and acidity. This wine is aged for 36 months in oak barrels as Gérard notes that oxygen energy is important to wines. He uses oak barrels but specially prepares the barrels before use. New barrels are filled with water for 10 days in order to remove the green taste from the wood. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation while in barrel. It has a medium intensity translucent garnet colour. It has a light fresh nose showing raspberries, red cherries and light spices. The wine is medium-bodied, dry with medium acidity and softer tannins. It starts floral on the palate then adds red fruits, raspberries and salty minerality. You get some pepperiness starting at the mid-palate and goes to the finish. The wine finishes with red fruits and spice. Light drying tannins. –
Domaine de Villemajou Rouge 2017 – This wine is a blend of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache, with the Carignan vines between 60-120 years old. Some of the Syrah and Carignan are vinified with carbonic maceration. There is no clarification or filtering before bottling. This wine has an almost opaque dull garnet colour in the glass. A nice nose with aromas of milk chocolate, raspberries and light spice. It is dry, medium-plus body with a light mouthfeel and light tannins. You get nice red fruit flavours and light minerality. The wine gets spicy starting at the mid-palate and continues to the finish.
Chateau de Villemajou Grand Vin Rouge 2015 – This blend is made from Carignan, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache grapes. Gérard noted that Carignan provides the structure to this wine and consists fo 40-50% of the blend, Syrah lifts the wine with red and black fruit flavours, Grenache provides fruit complexity and suaveness to the wine, and Mourvedre brings complexity in tiny amounts (3-5%) and can be thought of light using salt and pepper seasoning to food when you are making a dish. This wine has a deep garnet colour from core to rim. It has a light licorice, clove and ripe black fruit nose. It is fuller-bodied but has a lighter mouthfeel. Light tannins and medium acidity. Deep ripe black fruit, graphite, sweet spices and a touch of roast coffee flavours. Deep brooding flavours. Everything in this wine is very harmonious. –
Cigalus Rouge 2017 – This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Caladoc, and Carignan. I had not heard of Caladoc before, but I was told it is a cross between Grenache and Malbec, and has been around for 40 years. This wine is opaque ruby in the glass. Floral and ripe black fruit along with light pencil lead aromas. It is dry, full-bodied, soft and round, with medium acidity and very soft tannins. It has flavours of ripe sweet black fruits, plums, and red cherries, and touches of violets and spices. It has a firmer dry tannic finish. –
Clos d’Ora 2016 – a blend in descending order of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan. This wine is opaque to the rim of garnet colour. It has a light cedar, vanilla and ripe dark fruit nose. Very nice aromas. It is full-bodied, soft and silky with a great mouthfeel. It’s dry with soft ripe black fruit flavours. Medium intensity tannic finish. A very elegant wine. Gérard was saying this wine could still age another 20-40 years although it is very good right now to drink.
La Forge 2017 – La Forge in French means blacksmith’s forge. This vineyard was Gérard’s father’s favourite and a blacksmith’s shop was nearby, thus the name. This wine is opaque from the core to the rim, garnet coloured. It has cloves, raspberries, and dark fruit aromas along with a touch of pencil leads (graphite). It has a medium-plus body, is dry, soft and silky in the mouth. Medium intensity fine-grained tannins. Flavours of sweet red fruits and light cloves. Peppery and red fruit flavours along with stronger tannins on the finish. It is a soft-spoken wine.
Grapevines respond to their terroir. Gérard has shown us that he gives the vines their best chance of producing top quality aromas and flavours through the use of biodynamic methods, and by selecting vineyard sites that have the right kind of soils and climate for the grapes. I look forward to drinking more of Gérard’s wines in the future and I recommend that you try some as well.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
I did a quick check at the BC Liquor stores website. They do carry some Gerard Bertrand wines, but not the ones from this tasting. That being said you may find some at the Cambie signature or other signature stores, as some wines from the Festival do show up for sale there. Your other options are to check with your local private wine shop. Everything Wine does carry two wines from Gerard, but not from this tasting.