As concern grows globally about impacts of climate change, viticultural practices take center stage in many wine focused conversations. Pros and cons of sustainability, organic, and biodynamic farming are weighed heavily throughout the wine community in whispers and roars. For winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, who has been farming biodynamically for 16 years in France’s Languedoc region, the shift in focus is welcome, but not for all the reasons one might think.
Sixteen years ago Bertrand decided to migrate his 15 wine estate vineyards in the south of France to biodynamic farming. It began as a curiosity in 2002, a discovery into homeopathic medicine that lead to experimentation in the vineyards. The transition resulted in more diversity in the vineyards, culminating in greater expression in the wine.
At the time, biodynamic farming was rare in the region so the conversion was not a business or even much of an environmental decision, the focus was on improving the quality of the wine. Today, with over 1,000 acres of vineyards farmed biodynamically, Bertrand embraces the environmental benefits, and has become a leader in the region and France, as a whole.
As a savvy businessman, he embraces opportunities to promote the Languedoc-Roussillon region. His efforts demonstrate the world-class wines the region is capable of producing, at incredible value prices. He partnered with Jon Bon Jovi in crafting Diving Into Hampton Water Rosé (read review here) in an effort to promote the south of France art of living – relaxed, gastronomical, light and airy like a good jazz song.
Bertrand’s Château l’Hospitalet, located between Narbonne’s city center and the Mediterranean Sea, reveals another aspect of his desire to promote the region. This wine making estates features a 38-room 3-star hotel, restaurant, tourism center, and shops embracing the wine and gastronomical lifestyle of Languedoc. It looks like a magical spot for a romantic getaway or a destination wedding.
This month the French Winophiles, under the guidance of L.M Archer, are exploring the biodynamic wines of Gérard Bertrand. I am already a fan, having enjoyed many of his wines in the past. Additionally, I think he is a great ambassador for the under-appreciated Languedoc region, a place high on my list, but have yet to explore.
For our May drinking pleasure, I received a sample of the 2018 Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Blanc, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. It opens with aromas of yellow apples, lemon curd and zest, ripe peaches, drips of lavender honey, and notes of bitter almond. The palate is wide, rich, and exuberant. It reveals additional notes of tropical fruit in a silky texture with a toasty finish. I would prefer a bit more acidity, but it is a lovely wine. It embodies many aspects I love from this region—the diversity of grapes, the gastronomical nature, and the elegance juxtaposed with the power of the sea.
Pairing recommendations include shellfish and seafood. After two weeks on the road, with another long trip on the horizon, we enjoyed this wine on a Friday evening with Chinese take-out, to highlight its diversity. We had quite a feast— “Xiao Long Bao” Soup Dumpling, Spicy Ahi Tuna with Asian Pear Summer Rolls, Shanghai Style “Lion Head” Meat Balls, Beef with Black Pepper, and Flat Noodles with chicken. The wine paired seamlessly with each course, from the dumplings, to the spicy tuna, beef dishes, and poultry. It was an overall success. The wines of the Languedoc are so versatile and food-friendly, this wine is no exception.
Check out what my fellow #winophiles discovered with Gérard Bertrand:
Please join us to discuss Gérard Bertrand, biodynamic viticulture, and the south of France this morning at 10am on Twitter using #winophiles. A special thanks to Lynn Archer and Gérard Bertrand wines.