Leading in Languedoc

  • Sniff of success: Gérard Bertrand’s wines are popular in the United States

    Sniff of success: Gérard Bertrand’s wines are popular in the United States

The Languedoc-Roussillon vineyards in Southern France claim to have more grape varieties planted in them than anywhere else in the world.

Last year, overall, French wine exports to the United States grew by 14 per cent, but from this area the growth was 26 per cent.

The various labels of Gérard Bertrand were on almost half of them. His Vin Gris and Cotes des Rosés led the way, but today I would like to describe our latest arrivals from him.

Gérard has made a strong, voluntary commitment to sustainable development, responding to the growing demand from consumers as well as the global need to reduce the adverse effects of greenhouse gases on the climate. Establishing partnerships with organic farmers, acting to preserve their landscapes and winegrowing terroirs, and promoting biodiversity are top priorities for Gérard Bertrand and his winemaking teams.

They adhere to responsible agricultural specifications within their estates, applying Terra Vitis and organic farming standards.

Eight of his estates are managed following biodynamic guidelines, certified by Demeter and they cover 770 acres. His smallest estate is ploughed by mules named Vanina and Victorieux.

To quote Gérard: “Preserving the environment durably, restoring harmony, maintaining ecosystems, putting the emphasis on the skill of our winemakers, reaching out to new generations: these are the challenges we face today, and the obligations we will be faced with tomorrow.”

Reserve Spéciale consists of four varieties and their labels read “Vin Biologique/Organic Wine. They all have convenient screw-caps and they are all priced at a friendly $19.75. Their vinification and maturing processes are carefully adapted to the aromatic qualities of each grape type.

2016 Gérard Bertrand Reserve Spéciale Merlot comes from coastal vineyard grapes that are picked at full ripeness and, with a deep ruby colour, this wine’s powerful bouquet reveals red berry, cherry and wild strawberry aromas, with prominent hints of spices and prunes as well as leather and truffles.

The approach is supple and aromatic, in harmony with the aromas and bouquet. A rounded, elegant wine that is well-structured and powerful with a long-lasting finish. If you enjoy “Right Bank” (St Emilion) from Bordeaux this could well be your casual summer-sipper.

If you require a little more tannic background, then the world’s most widely planted wine grape variety should be your choice and we can offer you Reserve Spéciale 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon. As cabernet vines produce smaller berries than the merlot ones do, the result is a higher skin-to-pulp ratio and therefore more polyphenols, or as they are commonly called — tannins.

Here is a quick “wine 101”. If you would like to see why beef goes so well with red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, here is an experiment that is easy to do. Brew a strong cup of black tea. Take a sip and you will feel those drying, astringent tannins coat your mouth. Add a little milk and try again. The compounds in milk have now chemically surrounded the tannins and softened them. Red meat and milk come from an animal that says “moo” and they both have the same chemical backgrounds. Case closed.

This is a rounded 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with intense fruit aromas of cassis, red-currant, plum and subtle spices, offering perfect balance and good length on the palate.

Sauvignon Blanc is a very early ripening variety that requires a precise harvesting date, determined by tasting the fruit beforehand to ensure that it yields all its famous intensity.

The grapes are picked at night-time to preserve the freshness of the fruit. When the grapes reach the winery, they are delicately pressed. After static settling under cold conditions, alcoholic fermentation is performed in stainless steel vats under temperature control to preserve the aromatic bouquet of the grape. The wine is bottled early to safeguard the wine’s youthfulness.

Gérard Bertrand Reserve Spéciale 2017 Sauvignon Blanc is characterised by lovely citrus aromas verging on menthol and offers pleasing roundness on the palate. This 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc comes from vineyards that enjoy a cool climate and offers delicious aromas of citrus and tropical fruits.

There also is a Chardonnay that is fresh and flavoursome with fresh notes of citrus, ripe apple and white flowers. It is from the 2017 vintage.

Although new stocks have just arrived, it is more than likely that you will find 2015 Reserve Spéciale Viognier still in our shops and this does not claim to be organic. As they achieved certification for their 2016 vintage and because the process takes a minimum of three years, this 2015 was farmed organically. The Viognier variety is known for its delicate feel and texture on the palate, rich and smooth. It is perfectly suited to the cooler terroirs on the untamed hillsides of the Pays d’Oc.

It releases complex notes of peach, pear, tropical fruits and white flowers. This fresh and fruity 100 per cent Viognier exhales notes of honeysuckle, ripe pear, peach, orange blossom and citrus fruits.

This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at wineonline.bm

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Published Jun 1, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated May 31, 2018 at 8:22 pm)

Leading in Languedoc

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