Does the above picture effectively showcase the “dream” of Southern France? That blue sky, with the white puffs of clouds, is real. And from this fresh, sunny climate we also get the wines of Gerard Bertrand, who owns six estates in the Languedoc.
Today at a Per Se launch of his 2010 Gris Blanc Rosé in the U.S. market we had a chance to taste his entire portfolio, and also discover the fascinating personality of Gerard who is a seasoned vigneron (since age 10, more about that later) and also the extremely charming and polished face behind the brand.
At age 10, Gerard volunteered to help his vigneron father in the vineyeard, much to the chagrin of his mother who preferred that Gerard concentrate on his studies. Clearly, winemaking was in young Gerard’s blood, for he took over the family’s estates upon his father’s passing in 1987, just 22 yet with a dozen years of solid winemaking experience behind him.
Today the family’s six estates produces many brands of wines at various price points, from affordable quality wines to single vineyard wines that represent an incredible value compared to Bordeaux or Hermitage.
Just last night, at the James Beard Awards, Per Se was awarded “Best Service for North America” and it was a fitting venue for this special lunch paired with Bertrand wines.
Herb roased fillet of Atlantic Halibut was paired with three Bertrand wines: Viognier, Reserve Speciale 2010 Cigalus White, Pays D’Oc 2009, and Aigle Royal, Limoux, AOP 2009.
I liked all three of these wines: the Viognier was incredible, fresh and perfumed with peach/apricot, and very very light … almost dainty. The Cigalus (mostly Chardonnay with some Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier) was light and refreshing, and the 100% Chardonnay Aigle Royal from Limoux was full bodied, rich, yet lifted. All three fabulous wines.
Rib-Eye of Snake-River Farms’ Beef with King trumpet mushroom was a fabulous dish, paired with three wines. The top pick of the three was the Chateau L’Hospitalet Reserve Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape 2009. Very well balanced, with touches of light oak and vanilla.
The cheese course, featuring Roncal with compressed fennel and apricot membrillo, was paired with three more reds, and all three were favorites: La Forge, Corbieres-Boutenac AOP 2008, Le Viala, Minevois La Liviniere 2007, and L’Hospitalaitas, Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape AOP 2008. I liked all three of these wines — yet I preferred the La Forge for three key reasons.
Now frankly, the first reason is that it is a blend of syrah and carignan from 100 year old vines and I absolutely love old vine carignan. This wine offers very well integrated flavors between the concentrated fruit, acid, tannin, and oak. And according to Gerard, the 2008 is the best example of this wine (reason #2). The third reason is that according to Gerard, it is a tribute to his father who loved this vineyard, and whom Gerard named in his owner.
I liked the La Clape also because of its incredible balance and finesse, this is a wine that could actually steal the show in a “Judgement of Paris” type of competiton.
Legend vintage Maury AOP 1929 was paired with the dessert, which was decadence itself in a trio of fab flavors such as a Tcho Chocolage Mousse, Whiskey Puree, and Almond Ice Cream. 1929 seems long ago to many of us, yet fellow Wine Media Guild member Hochstein had the distinction of being born in that year, and was “awarded” a bottle of this precious vintage by Gerard himself.
An absolutely fabulous launch for the Gerard Bertrand brand in the United States. Gerard is really passionate about bringing the culture, wine, and gastronomy of the Languedoc to the United States, and each of the wines tasted reflected the blend of affordable price points combined with the quality that happens to be the Bertrand hallmark.