Tasting with Gerard Bertrand in New York, April, 2013
For comments from Bertrand and background on the tasting, see the blog post “Reconnoitering Roussillon” on Engaging the Senses
I’ve listed my tasting notes below as I made them during my day with Gerard Bertrand at Le Bernardin in New York. I’ve marked my favorites with one to three asterisks (*)
My favorite 2011 Gerard Bertrand wines are:
Grand Terroir Tautavel
Grand Terroir Pic Saint-Loup
Tautavel Homage aux Vignerons
Grand Terroir La Clape
Domaine de Cigalus Red Blend
That's quite a lineup! Here is the complete rundown:
Opening flight of wines:
Gerard Bertrand Chateau l'Hospitalet White 2011*
A blend of vermentino, roussanne, viognier
Aged in oak 6 months
Bright pale white gold. The wine has lovely peachy notes on the nose, and is clean and crisp on the palate with a long finish. Good minerality, with a bit of limestone chalkiness. Would be wonderful with oysters.
Gerard Bertrand Cigalus White, 2011 –
A blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc; biodynamically farmed (Demeter certified) grapes with malolactic fermentation for around 70% of the volume (this natural process converts tart malic acid such as you find in green apples into softer lactic acid. It’s almost always done for red wines, but is optional and more carefully controlled in whites).
Warm aromas, subdued fruit and perhaps a bit high in alcohol. Nice spice notes emerge. Good complexity in the mouth with some subtle toffee and an appealing velvety richness; gets some grip as it spreads on the palate with nice graphite minerality. Compact – it will benefit from a little time
Gerard Bertrand Domaine de l’Aigle Royal Chardonnay 2011
from the highest vineyard in Limoux at 500 meters altitude
Bright pale lemon and shimmering white gold color, a really appealing color. A bit tart on the palate and missing some chardonnay character for my taste. Crisp, needs time to open.
Domaine de l'Aigle Pinot Noir 2011
This is Bertrand’s first pinot noir. He bought the estate in 2006. “We try to keep the freshness and complexity. We like the light color - we don't want to make a full-bodied wine, we want to make a wine that expresses the typicity of the pinot noir grape.”
Light ruby color with some appealing cherry pie spice on the nose. The flavors are light and delicate. This will please lovers of Burgundy and horrify those who prefer the nearly syrah-like style of some US pinots.
With the second group of wines, Bertrand notes that, “we start tasting with the appellations from the south. We call this our ‘terroir series.’ They are labeled clearly by where they are from, and we put the blend on the front label. They are all aged in oak for minimum of 12 months.”
Terroir Minervois 2011 - syrah and carignan
Deep purple with magenta core. Nice black cherry and plummy aromas, a hint of coffee in the back. Crisp, firm tannins slowly evolve on the palate. Nice and sweet fruit entry then picks up some structure. The alcohol is a bit high but there is a very appealing purity to the wine. Very good length with cherry, plum and mocha intertwined. Terrific wine.
Terroir Fitou 2011 - grenache and carignan
Very bright, deep purple. Youthful and intense color. Compact on the nose with plummy aromas. Almost liqueur-like intensity of flavor, laser focus and a bit tight. Ripe tannins, but a lot of tannin there. Will have great charm as it evolves - firm rather than hard and I really like the focus of this wine though some will find it narrow
Terroir Corbières 2011 – grenache, syrah and mourvedre *
Dense garnet with an appealing crimson edge
Mocha, some garrigue-like vegetal notes on the palate with considerable tannin – the tannins are ripe and plentiful. Needs at least a year to be appealing to the consumer (so very tasty in 2014). With more herbal notes than overt fruit, this is quite lovely and elegant.
Terroir Saint-Chinian 2011 – syrah and mourvedre**
Spicy with black pepper and anise, very tight and pure, good focus with a hint of maltiness on the nose. Dusty tannins at the end. A rather thrilling wine - lots of power and very long on the finish. Agile and elegant, this is the real take home wine.
The Grand Terroir Series
Grand Terroir Les Aspres 2011 (blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre) *
Deep garnet with a bright rim. Bright and very clean aromas with garrigue quality (garrigue is the Provençal version of heather – low scrub with wild herbs, especially thyme and sometimes lavendin, a relative of lavender). Tight, lean and focused with lovely herbal quality and a bit of spice. Medium weight, but deceptive because it has great purity of flavor and length on the palate. Herbs, dried plums, blackberry - it's a bit rugged. Persistent and delicious.
Grand Terroir Tautavel 2011 - grenache, syrah & carignan ***
Very deep and beautiful ruby - more red than a garnet. Fresh, garrigue aromas, wild thyme and plum. Beautiful plum and cherry fruit on the palate, then comes a robe of strong tannin. This has great purity and length - terrific wine**
Grand Terroir Montpeyroux 2011 - syrah and grenache
Deep ruby. Strong petrol note on the nose, a bit funky on the nose and that, says Bertrand, is very typical of Montepeyroux. A bit of clementine, peach and apricot on the palate - very colorful wine with surprising leanness. Interesting but not to my taste.
Grand Terroir Pic Saint-Loup 2011 - syrah, mourvèdre and grenache **
Deeper color than the previous, perhaps from the Syrah
anise, deep black fruit qualities, lovely velvet character. It has an appealing roundness, great balance and great length on the finish.
Grand Terroir La Clape Coteaux de Languedoc 2011 – syrah, carignan, mourvedre**
Good balance with strong tannins. A bit of candied Christmas fruit on the nose. Lovely length with lovely balance of fruit and herbal qualities. Plums and cherries roasted on a wood fire - very pretty.
Tautavel Homage aux Vignerons – 100-year old grenache**
This is a special limited blend Bertrand makes from the best vineyards in Tautavel, all of them very old. Many of the growers are very old as well, and with this blend he salutes their consistency and industry.
Great deep magenta color, with a very bright and fresh nose. It has both power and suppleness, and loads of sweet black fruit on the palate – all plums and anise. Beautiful, long finish, a really superior wine
FINAL FLIGHT – the “Grand Vin” series
Chateau de Villemajou 2011 – carignan, grenache, syrah - Gerard's family estate in Corbières and the first wine he made
Lean and clean on the palate, the wine is substantial but gives a surprisingly light impression. It is agile on the palate with focused black fruit but also some orange/citrus fruit notes. Very nice and refreshing, very good with food.
Château La Sauvageonne 2011 – syrah, grenache, carignan
a bit of funkiness like the Montpeyroux but tempered with a bit of vanilla. Lean and not particularly interesting
Domaine de Cigalus IGP Aude Hauterive 2011 - cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, grenache, carignan and caladoc ***
This biodynamic (Demeter certified) blend is inky purple, enormous extract.
Very elegant, great intensity, very juicy but also a lot of ripe tannins so it needs some time. A terrific wine with great future and a very long finish. Absolutely phenomenal. Needs a couple of hours to aerate before drinking (if you can wait)
L'Hospitalitat 2011 – syrah, grenache and mourvèdre **
Deep, intense purple color. Lovely bit of bacon fat on the nose along with dried orange peel, black fruit. Very intense with a sauvage meaty quality on the palate. Very concentrated and focused, great structure. Really shows the pedigree of the vintage. Long finish
Le Viala Minervois-Linvinière 2011 – syrah, grenache, carignan
Very bright deep ruby/crimson color. Smoky mocha notes and some black fruit. There's a sauvage quality to this wine, very long and pretty smokiness to the black fruit. Like roasted black cherries.
La Forge Corbières Boutenac 2011 – syrah, carignan
Firm, earthy notes of coffee, graphite minerality and plums baked with vanilla. Very tight on the palate with ripe tannins bordering on hard. Good depth to the wine, leaves a strong taste of the earth behind. Nice with a steak, but there are more generous wines on the table.