Women have played a huge role in the winemaking of the Languedoc Roussillon since the very beginning. They’re finally taking some of the credit. And as a lot of the pictures show, there’s a generation of little winemakers in the making who will be just as talented as their mommies and daddies!
ViniSud is coming up soon, a huge trade fair with a massive amount of Mediterranean wines. I gather that a lot of Love That Languedoc readers might be in attendance this year. If it’s your first time at ViniSud, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. So I’ve been writing some lists and guides to help newcomers navigate ViniSud.
This is one of those lists. And since all the producers also Love That Languedoc, I thought I’d go ahead and put them on this site instead of the O’Vineyards blog.
And if you miss those events or just want to delve deeper into one of our members in particular, here’s a list with stand numbers and a wine they’ll be showcasing, explained by the winemakers themselves. Enjoy!
Pinacle Syrah 2002 – Domaine de Sainte Rose
Cotes de Thongue – Hall 1, stand A8
Ten years ago, we moved to France, bought a vineyard, set up two businesses and started a family all at the same time! To remind ourselves never to try and do that again all at once we have released a rather special wine from that first, rather stressful vintage! Come and visit us at Vinisud and you can try the very exclusive, bottle aged 2002 Pinacle Syrah. It is a huge wine, made with our real blood, sweat and tears and it is a living testimony that Languedoc wines can and do age well!
Occitania 2010 by Rives Blanques
Limoux – Hall 9, Aisle A, Stand 70
Occitania 2010, the only 100% barrel-vinified Mauzac in the Limoux appellation. We are particularly partial to this wine, maybe because we drank up the whole of the first vintage ourselves – nobody else would even taste it, let alone buy it. Happy to say, the wine now sells out every year. Mauzac is an old, traditional grape variety that has been growing in Limoux for over 600 years, used for Blanquette, the region’s famous fizz. We have set aside two (organic) hectares of uncloned 50-year old vines for Occitania, and we’ll have a bottle of the latest vintage with us on at 9A70.
Domaine Jones Blanc 2010by Domaine Jones
Roussillon – Hall 11, Aisle D, Stand 64 (Tuesday only!!)
The new vintage of Jones blanc 2011 has been desperate to get out and show itself off to the world. Up Until now I have kept it back to mature and mellow just that little bit longer but on Tuesday the 21 st February I can hold it no longer and the Jones blanc Grenache Gris 2011 will be revealed to the world (or at least visitors to Vinisud).
Cuvée Henri 2008by Château de Combebelle
Saint Chinian – Hall 9, Stand 9C18
For the first time, we will be presenting a magnum of 2008 “Cuvée Henri” (only like 150 produced). Made exclusively from a single vineyard on the estate and aged in 500l barrels for 2 years, this wine reflects our intensity and passion! The bottle commemorates the birth of Henri into our family and a further addition to the family named Hugo may also be present (depending on its drinkability at the time!) That is another single vineyard wine made exclusively from 70 year old Grenache.
Grand Vin Rouge 2008 by Château d’Anglès
La Clape – Hall 8 Aisle C, Stand 69
While Eric Fabre worked Cabernet and Merlot at Château Lafite Rothschild, he was dreaming of growing some Mourvèdre by the Mediterranean sea. We will launch at Vinisud our Grand Vin 2008 which is our prestige red wine made for the first time of a majority of Mourvèdre! The former island terroir of La Clape gives to this Mourvèdre an amazing silky tannin structure, a savory balance and an incredible length. This new vintage will wear a new skin for the occasion : come have a chat with Eric and Vianney and taste!
Felgaria 2009 by Domaine de Cébène Faugères – Hall 9, Aisle A, Stand 30
Brigitte Chevalier, this relatively neophyte winemaker, achieved both critical and competitive acclaim for the very first vintage at her Domaine de Cébène vineyard in Faugères. Being a woman in the übermasculine winemaking field makes her exploit even more notable. At Vinisud, taste her “Felgaria” 2009. The high proportion of Mourvèdre on schist soil makes this wine unique: she manages to master the masculine character of this impetuous varietal and crafts apowerful yet svelte wine full of grace. The balance between Yin and Yang.
Motus by Domaine Treloar
Cotes du Roussillon – Hall 6 Aisle C Stand 12 (Tuesday Afternoon ONLY)
This is my wine that is the most respected by connoisseurs and probably the biggest seller from the winery but has never had a high rating from a professional critic with most of them “Not getting it”. I don’t know if it’s because it is Mourvedre and they don’t really know what to expect or because it is labelled Cotes du Roussillon and doesn’t taste like other Cotes du Roussillons. Come and taste the Motus and tell me what you think. If you can’t catch them Tuesday afternoon, the wine will be on tasting in the Palais Mediterranée for the entirety of the fair.
O’MG 2011 by O’Vineyards Cité de Carcassonne – Hall 1 Aisle B Stand 21
While my parents have built a reputation around our estate wines at O’Vineyards, I’ve been building another kind of business on the side; I’m going to be able to start selling my neighbors’ wines abroad in addition to our own. So this year we’re launching our first négociant cuvée. A close collaboration between O’Vineyards and an estate on the other side of Carcassonne to make our new wine: O’MG. The goal is to make a jaw dropping wine at a jaw dropping price so that people will say O M G.
The Wine Enthusiast, a leading Amercian wine magazine, recently named their European winery of the year for 2011. And the winery is Gerard Bertrand in the Languedoc Roussillon. I’ve been meaning to write about Gerard Bertrand for a while now, and this might be just the kick in the pants I needed.
The short version
A lot of the visitors to this site are skimming or looking for very specific information (pairing suggestions, tasting notes, etc.) so I have to put this up at the top of the page for the sake of clarity. This post is a story about getting to know Gerard Bertrand. It might get a little long winded, and the subject is complex. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s the short version:
Gerard Bertrand is a complicated cookie. It’s easy to criticize him (his organization is so big that it makes a bigger target), but he’s actually a stand up guy. I had a relatively negative impression of him when I first came to the region, but I have really come around despite my prejudice against big business, economies of scale, and government subsidies. I still don’t know him very well, but I think he’s good people.
Now that’s a super simplified version. I really hope that readers will take a few minutes to read this whole article. Because regions like the Languedoc Roussillon are being shaped every day by a handful of people like Bertrand.
Obviously, it takes the communal work of every grape-grower and winemaker in the region to make the Languedoc Roussillon run. But there are a few point men (and point women) who lead the charge in their own ways and act as poster children for the entire region.
After spending a few hours with Gerard Bertrand, I feel like people don’t give him enough credit for being a good guy. They give him credit for being a keen business man, or a shrewd investor, a good schmoozer, and lots of other things, but I don’t think many people ever tried to convince me that he’s just a nice person.
So that’s what this is about.
Gerard Bertrand’s Reptuation
Here’s the excerpt from the Wine Enthusiast:
European Winery of the Year
Gérard Bertrand, Gérard Bertrand
Both landowner and partner of the best winegrowers in the South of France, Gérard Bertrand manages over 325 hectares of vineyards across varying Languedoc terroirs. He fully understands the movement toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant wines that remain accessible and affordable.
When I first came to the region, this was exactly the kind of award I’d expect Bertrand to receive. Last year, it went to the Portuguese winery responsible for Mateus. And in a three line bio of the man, you mention he’s got over 300 hectares around the region, maybe with a qualifier like “accessible and affordable” (which is sometimes a euphemism for “sells to supermarkets”).
And the first few times I ran into Gerard Bertrand, it was at trade fairs (ViniSud 2009 and LIWF 2010). In both situations the retired rugby legend was wearing a suit (which might have emphasized his height and gaunt frame to make him look more than a little imposing). He seemed a little curt with the people around him. I mistook this for self-importance, and I projected a lot onto the man because of assumptions I tend to make about large scale producers. I was always willing to admit that his wine was solid, but I never really gave the guy a chance.
I visited Cigalus, his flagship biodynamic estate, and enjoyed a Bertrand-guided tour. It was neat hearing him talk about the vineyard and his operations. Here’s a short clip where he talks about long term changes in the wine world and the generational time scale of winemaking:
Hearing him talk about perspective and patience started to convince me that he might be a lot cooler than I originally thought. But at the same time, these kind of tours are often put-on. I wasn’t 100% convinced yet that he was being genuine.
The real Gérard Bertrand
At the jazz fest Bertrand promotes on his primary vineyard, l’Hospitalet, I got to spend more time with him. And I saw a totally different side of the man. He was laid back and in his element. A serious but friendly man who clearly enjoyed sharing a nice moment with the people around him.
The only thing I posted from the jazz fest was a helicopter ride over the Corbieres and Massif de la Clape. Admittedly, that is very bling bling. And it’s very generous of him to fly me around like that. But that is not what I’m referring to when I talk about sharing. At dinner, he had old neighbors around the table, other winemakers, silly American winemake/bloggers, and so on. He wasn’t just automatically fulfilling the functions of a host. He was hanging out with his neighbors. And he was being really nice to everybody. And really honest too. There were some moments of frightening intimacy in the conversation.
There was one point when Gérard talked about the fires that had ravaged the Massif de la Clape in recent years. This is probably worthy of its own post, but I’ll explain briefly that grape vines play an important role in stopping the spread of fires on the Mediterranean coast. Bertrand advocates planting more vines on the Massif de la Clape as a way to limit the destructive fires we saw in 2010. You should have seen the look on his face when he talked about that 2010 fire. He spoke of the smell of burning leather and smoke as he and his friends ran up and down the massif trying to steer the fire away from a nearby village. Okay, this is starting to sound like an Ayn Rand novel. But maybe that’s appropriate.
I don’t know if this post achieved what I want it to. I don’t want to pretend Gerard Bertrand is my hero or that he is going to save the Languedoc. I just wanted to explain how I was skeptical about his character and it turned out he’s nice and seems like he has very good intentions. We actually have a lot in common and I feel pretty bad that it took me several years to get to know him a little. And I’m not important enough to name him European Winery of the Year like the Wine Enthusiast did. But maybe what I can do on this blog is tell you that he’s a stand up guy. I’m happy that he’s one of the point men for the entire region.
I’m a member of this group of winemakers “from elsewhere”. Louise Hurren is curating the page very well with lots of fun updates from winemakers who don’t always have the time to post their own photos and messages during harvest.
The Fulla clan was doing awesome updates last year too. But this year’sharvest albums, I love how many photos focus on the harvesting team having a silly good time while they make their excellent wine.
All of these are really swell collections of updates and deserve some attention!
If you find other updaters please let me know about them so I can follow along and add them eventually.
These updates are extremely important because they help communicate exactly how active and alive the winemaking community is in the Languedoc Roussillon. It’s wonderful that some people are pushing so hard to get our lives out to the rest of the world!