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Posts Tagged Gerard Bertrand

Languedoc – Moncrieff Show 29th October

Copy of the Moncreiff show newsletter that went out after the show on October 29th

I’m tempted to say here are some monster reds for Halloween but that would be unfair, since I’d like to think that the tasted today are all well made, balanced reds rather than screamingly big and butch. Two of them, at least, should be the kind of wines that could perform as liquid central heating* if you have a party and venture outside into the freezing night air. 

Today’s theme is Languedoc in Southern France. This just may be the most interesting place in France to be making wine at the moment. It’s not one of the classic regions like Bordeaux or Burgundy and has had to struggle to make a name for itself over the last decade or two. And struggle it has. In the 1980s 10% of the planet’s wine was made here and much of it contributed to the infamous wine lake. Since then many vineyards have been ripped out, some co-operatives closed and many have struggled to scratch a living. Those struggles though have perhaps made it more dynamic than the classic regions. There are a variety of appellations like Minervois, Corbières and Coteaux de Languedoc using grapes like grenache, syrah, mourvèdre, carignan and cinsault for the reds and bourboulenc, picpoul, marsanne, vermentino and grenache blanc for the whites. But, it’s also were all the varietal wines labelled as Vin de Pays d’Oc comes from and that can include almost any varietal you can think of. All in all, it gives a smart producer plenty of ammunition to work with.

I’ve just returned from working as a cellar hand for one such smart producer, Gérard Bertrand. Bertrand is a former French rugby player who, whilst still playing, inherited his family’s estate after his father’s untimely death, Domaine de Villemajou in Corbières. After his playing days he set about expanding the business and now has six estates and also works with a number of other growers and co-ops in the region. He’s mastered the trick of gaining size and scale but hanging on to the ability to make high quality, interesting, good value wines when big so often just equals bland. He has wines available in Ireland through Dunnes, O’Briens, Tesco and M & S. I found his range to be very clean modern wines, true to their origins without being over the top and extracted in an attempt to ape the success of Chile and Australia.

Another dynamic and expanding producer in the area is Laurent Miquel, whose wines you will also find in Dunnes, O’Briens and Tesco. They are based at Ch. Cazal Viel in St Chinian and have made something of a specialism of syrah for reds and viognier for whites. Laurent’s wife, Neasa is Irish and visits these shores regularly to promote their wines. 

Another interesting producer to look out for is Jean Paul Mas, producer of the ‘Arrogant Frog’ range available from simplywines.ie.

Wines Tasted on the Show

Gérard Bertrand ‘Art de Vivre’ Corbieres 2008, Dunnes, €8.99, (from 3 Nov €7.99 or €14 for 2)

This is a serious bargain, as it’s produced at his original estate of Dom de Vilamajou (€16.95 in O’Briens) in the Boutenac sub district of Corbieres, which was recently elevated to a new ‘Grand Crus de Languedoc’ classification. It’s a big estate (140 ht) so not all of it can be sold under the main label at premium prices and some of it is bottled as simple Corbières and sold to supermarkets here and in France.

Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Syrah 2006, VdP d’Oc,  Tesco, €9.65.
This has plenty of blackberry fruit and liquorice like spice without being as jammy or fruity as an Australian Shiraz. A good partner to hearty winter stews.

Aigle Noir Pinot Noir 2007, VdP d’Oc, M & S, €8.99.
Made at Bertrand’s estate in Limoux, Domaine d’Aigle which sells at €14.99 in O’Briens. The name means ‘Black Eagle’. This is classy pinot noir for this money with typical cherish fruit. A classic choice for duck or turkey.

*Alcohol of course doesn’t actually warm you, in fact it lowers the body’s temperature but sipping something like strongly alcoholic does give a sensation of warmth.

Martin Moran MW 

Links

http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a200808203.html – an article about the region by renowned writer Jancis Robinson MW who has a house in the area.

http://love-that-languedoc.com/ – a blog devoted to the region.

http://www.andrewjefford.com/node/681 – leading wine writer Andrew Jefford highlights some of the stunning and expensive wines of the Languedoc

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