Languedoc-Roussillon holds a special place in my heart.
It’s different there. Le foot? Non non non mon ami! Rugby rules the sporting landscape down here.
Food? Foie gras, cassoulet, confit de canard, saucisses de Toulouse… dare I go on? These classic French staples were born here!
Le paysage? One glance at the rolling, rugged mountains, vine-covered hills, and it’s clear you’re in the South – you can practically catch a whiff of those Spanish tapas spilling over the Pyrenées.
I had the fortune of travelling there back in 2011. A friend and I stayed in the medieval town of Carcassonne. Travelling North to South from Paris, it is in this region where you say “ah yes, this IS quite different”. You can feel the cultural divide. Have a listen to the dialect of French spoken here, and it’ll soon become evident that you’re in old Occitan country.
If there’s one name that has become synonymous with the wine of Languedoc, its Gérard Bertrand. Born in 1965, Gérard didn’t make a living in wine. He was a rugby player, and a pretty damn good one at that – donning the jerseys for RC Narbonne and Stade Français.
He was introduced to wine by his father, Georges Bertrand in 1975, where he tended to a vineyard called Domaine de Villemajou, in Corbières. Gérard would go on to take full ownership of Domaine de Villemajou after his father’s sudden passing in 1987. Five years later, Gérard went on to create Gérard Bertrand wine company, and would purchase various Chateaux and estates within the Languedoc-Roussillon region – they currently sit at 15 estates throughout the region.
Gérard is incredibly proud of his region. He has represented it on the rugby pitch, and he is now doing it through his wines.
A commitment to biodynamic winemaking
In 2002, the Gérard Bertrand group adopted biodynamic winemaking practices, which has official certification from Demeter. Since then, they have become a worldwide leader in biodynamic farming.
In short, biodynamic practices infer organic methods, along with considerations of the rhythms of “life forces”. It is believed that through the adoption of biodynamic practices, the grapes and thus the wine, are able to display the truest expression of their terroir, which as little effects as possible on the environment.
Gérard Bertrand has been able to strike a balance between international growth, while remaining committed to their principles of honouring the earth and environment – a challenge many producers fail at.
“The ecosystem, flora and fauna, are respected at every estate.”
Gérard Bertrand in Canada
Gérard Betrand views Canada as an extremely valuable market. Their wine ambassador to Canada, Nicolas Galy, ensures we have access to some of their greatest bottles, from coast to cost. AOC Minervois and Fitou are two bottles that I’ll be covering at greater length in subsequent posts.