Up until recently I had no idea what the wines from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region tasted like. I had my first taste at Tilghman Island Inn in Maryland’s Talbot County during a game & wine pairing dinner. I was impressed by its unique flavor profile. Lo and behold, a few months later I was alerted to the fact that Gerard Bertrand, an innovative and sustainable winemaker based in this same region was awarded “European Winery of the Year” at Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Annual Wine Star Awards.
Gérard Bertrand inherited the passion of wine making at the early age of 10 from his late father Georges, a legendary leader in the French wine industry. “At that age my father said, “You are very lucky. When you are 50 you will have 40 years of experience.” After a successful career in professional Rugby, Bertrand was ready to dedicate all his energy to advancing his father’s legacy. Over the last 25 years, he has acquired 7 estate vineyards collectively totaling more than 900 acres, much of the land prized as having the most prestigious Languedoc-Roussillon terroir.
Gérard Bertrand not only produces a top quality portfolio of wines, he is a true Ambassador of the Mediterranean Art de vivre. His
2,000 acre carbon neutral Château l’Hospitalet in Narbonne serves as his headquarters and celebrates the region’s rich culture and unique gastronomy throughout the year with events like a Contemporary Art Festival (May), Jazz festival (August), and a Truffles Festival & Hunt along with a Christmas Market in December. Culinary tourists can book a stay in one of the property’s magnificent rooms overlooking vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea.
According to Lauren Buzzeo, Assistant Tasting Director at Wine Enthusiast, several factors lead to Gerard Bertrand’s award this year. “Gérard is a true regional leader, working hard to transform the reputation of the Languedoc-Roussillon from an area known for mass-produced yet drinkable wines to those of exceptional quality, complexity and class.” Another factor is his commitment to fully biodynamic operations. He uses no pesticides or environmentally damaging farming practices. “We have an obligation to our children to preserve our land”, says Bertrand. Bertrand’s dedication to increasing market exposure here in the States helped as well. “Over the past year, Gérard has worked hard to increase his distribution and restaurant exposure by hiring and deploying more brand ambassadors. This not only helped him blossom over the past year, he is well positioned to gain substantial market share in the years ahead” says Buzzeo.
It also doesn’t hurt that Bertrand’s Gris Blanc, Rose and Muscato, all screw cap and under $15, have been a hit with millennials, the next untapped generation of wine connoisseurs. I am so looking forward to tasting more and discovering what Gerard Bertrand brings to us in the next few years!
Photos courtesy of Gerard Bertrand