Tag Archives: france

Gérard Bertrand: Story behind the Wine

Gerard Bertrand@Wine.com_5100_BlogIt’s always exciting to meet the actual human who bears the name of a winery, particularly one that has become a household name. In this case, it was Gérard Bertrand. This may not be a household name in every house, but it is in mine. Our affinity for Rhone wines certainly extends to the rest of Southern France, where there is a unique style and value to be found. Gérard Bertrand wines combine just that: style & value.

The Story
Bertrand is tall, so tall that it has earned him the nickname, le Grand. Now nearing 50, Bertrand’s father got him started in the winery and cellar at age 10, allowing him to claim nearly 4 decades of experience. And that experience has gotten him far! The line of Gérard Bertrand wines includes dry and sweet; sparkling and still; red, white and rose… It includes values and collectibles and just about everything in between. He speaks passionately about his wine, and even more so about where his wine comes from: the South of France. Though that particular region needs little help to sell its virtues, Bertrand’s goal is not to sell people on the south of France, but rather to show people that the South of France is unique and distinct in it’s terroir, it’s wines and it’s culture. His wine is meant to represent the lifestyle and soul of the region.

Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

The Wines
I’ve drunk the wines plenty of times before, but I’ve never had a chance to have them side-by-side as we did with Monsieur Bertrand. I admit that I would typically clump together Fitou, Minervois and Corbieres under $20 when describing a style. But a delightful surprise came in tasting the wines and seeing a distinct difference. One offers lots of ripe berry fruit, another is all about dried cherries and dark chocolate. Not to mention they have a sparkling wine that is a Thomas Jefferson Cuvee (hello UVa alums! this is for you!), and a rose called “Sauvageonne,” which translates to “wild woman.” Seriously, that’s a rose. In addition, Bertrand has just launched the first vintage of Clos d’Ora, what he terms the first “grand cru” of the South of France. We had a chance to taste this wine and I can attest, it’s a damn good wine.  Better than any other I’ve had from the Languedoc/Roussillon.

Biodynamic
For 25 years Bertrand has been following and working towards biodynamic estate wines. Many are, many are on their way, but be assured that his wines are doing their part in reflecting the earth and terroir from which they come.

The Winery
Visit this place. It’s gorgeous! And they have a jazz fest every summer.

Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

Whether you prefer fruit bombs, a load of earth & spice, or easy-drinking picnic wine, you will find a wine from the Gérard Bertrand assortment. You can’t be in the south of France, but that does not mean you cannot drink like you are! Cheers!

 

From Burgundy with love: Appellation Bourgogne

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To most lonely and dedicated wine souls, Burgundy is the greatest challenge of all. One taste of a Montrachet or Romanée-Conti and one is doomed for a life of endless searching, and the painful reality of never-enough-money to even sniff wine’s Holy Grail. Even village wines cost more money than most mortals can spend. So it comes down to this: rare, ultra-expensive wines are often difficult to pronounce and harder to locate, even if one has reconciled the cost of the wine. It is no wonder that so many consumers have been chilled out of this precious wine region. Yet Burgundy, well aware of this situation, has begun to market wines that we all can afford.

Bourgogne Chardonnay and Bourgogne Pinot Noir is now the ticket back into Burgundy and provide the world with not just delicious and affordable wines, but wines that can be found in the marketplace. Wine experts freely admit that Burgundy is the birthplace of quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While both varietals (more chard than pinot) are widely grown throughout the world, history and research always begin here. Bourgogne is now the appellation that delivers the flavors of the varietals, as well as the characteristics of Burgundy at an affordable price.

Over the last 20 years, I have been most impressed with Bouchard Père et Fils and how their continued growth to make better and better wines. The current 2012 Bourgogne Chardonnay and 2012 Bourgogne Pinot Noir are excellent representatives of this category and of these varietals. One doesn’t always have to break the bank to enjoy the wines from this land that stretches from Dijon to Lyon. This pair of wines are from Burgundy with love.

Free the muscat

14_04_30 1100 Olivier Humbrecht_2100_Blog

Trends come and go, but most are fun and some are important. Over the last few years, Muscat has picked up global attention. A lot of this stuff  is sweet and fizzy and oh so easy to drink. But Moscato has not always been a trend. In it’s home base of Piedmont, Italy, it is known as Moscato d’Asti, and this wine has been in vogue for some time. While I have often enjoyed the sugar babies that are sweet and fizzy, my vote goes to the dried versions and that is why I would like to free the muscat.

Recently our team met with Master of Wine Olivier Humbrecht, and tasted several of his wines, including the 2012 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Muscat (Vin d’Alsace). I found the wine absolutely charming and stylish. With just a smidgen of sugar at 5 grams/liter (consumer threshold is around 6-7 grams), the wine stays between the stages of dry to barely sweet. In this area of sweetness, the wine can perform wonders with savory dishes like Szechuan Scallops on a b bed of noodles, as well with a faintly sweet dessert like Linzertorte, a common dish in Eastern Europe.

So I say, “Let us free the Muscat.” Enjoy this wine with some of your favorite foods and open a world of wine and food pleasures that you may have never known.

A serious pink that is a lot of fun!

11_09_13 Billecart-Salmon@Aleander's_640_BlogIn the world of pink (wines) no one can deny that Billecart-Salmon Champagne Rose is one of the kings of the wine world. Elegant, stylish and more fun, this serious wine is one of the world’s most renowned Champagnes. Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the winery actually positions this as a red wine. So don’t call it pink to their face, you may be the one who ends up blushing. An incredible food-pairing wine, I have often chosen this one with sashimi (yellow tail, red tuna, tuna belly…way yum).

The house of Billecart-Salmon goes back seven generations and is situated in the charming village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. Currently represented by the 6th generation, Francois and Antoine Roland-Billecart, this independent house seems to be in excellent hands. Chief winemaker, Francois Domi has been at the helm for nearly 30 years; the man has a great track record. Denis Blee, Director of the vineyard, has 20 years under his belt. With such a great production team, the vines cared for and respected. #champage #champagnerose #Billecartsalmon

Year in Review – Top Appellations of 2009 Part 1: Cotes-du-Rhone

We love to watch the trends of our buyers at Wine.com. Though they don’t always represent what is going on through the country, it is kind of cool to see what’s going on with our customers and why they are buying what they are buying. This week I’m going over our top 5 appellations this year, giving you the facts on the region and the wines!

village cdr

#1: Cotes-du-Rhone.  Known for value and quality, the Cotes-du-Rhone is full of easy-drinking wines that are perfect for food. This year, the region was up 151% in sales. Why the growth? A few reasons. First, some stellar back-to-back vintages – ‘06, ‘07 and ‘08 are all particularly touted as excellent. Excellent vintages can mean that the “starter” wines of a region, such as Cotes-du-Rhone in the Rhone Valley, can offer incredible quality for the price.

CdR facts – 

– The appellation of Côtes du Rhône encompasses much of Rhone region, not to mention much of the wine!rhonemap_crop
– Two-thirds of the wine produced in the Rhone Valley is of the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation. 
– Over 23 grape varieties permitted in production 
– Most all of this appellation is in the Southern Rhône, as the wines are blends, though there are some Cotes-du-Rhone areas in the Northern Rhone.
Red wines are based on Grenache, which must constitute at least 40% of the blend
Whites focus on Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne, occasionally with some Viognier.

There is one higher level in the Côtes du Rhône called Côtes du Rhône Villages. These wines are from specific village areas that have higher standards the wine must reach to receive the village label. For example, reds from this appellation must con tain at least 50% of Grenache. Some villages to take note of are Cairanne, Rasteau, Seguret and Sablet. I am a particular fan of Cairanne.

The wines of Cotes-du-Rhone are delicious and often easy drinking. They combine good, ripe berry fruit with layers of spice and sometimes a touch of earthiness. Acid and alcohol are usually in balance (careful on some of those 2007 wines as the alcohol can be a big high!) and tannins are low to medium in the reds. These factors make CdR wines perfect for a variety of foods in a variety of seasons. So grab a bottle or two and see why this region continues to grow!