Gerard Bertrand: A Pioneer in Biodynamic And Sustainable Winemaking in The Languedoc-Roussillon

Gerard Bertrand talks about biodynamic and sustainable winemaking, his new book “Nature at Heart,” and presents his new vintages at The Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel.

Gerard Bertrand is many things. He’s a former rugby player, the author of two books, including the newly published “Nature at Heart,” and an entrepreneur. But above all else, he’s the visionary leader in biodynamic winemaking at the Gerard Bertrand Group. In fact, Gerard was the trailblazer for biodynamic, organic, and sustainable wine production in the Southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon long before the environmentally-conscious practices became a trend.

“Nature at Heart” tasting and seminar at the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel.

Gerard assumed control over the management of the family vineyard in the 1990s. In the course of three decades he has grown it into an independent enterprise consisting of 16 chateaux and estates. He has done this without compromising his dedication to produce wine using only biodynamic and environmentally-sustainable methods that both nurture and preserve the natural landscape for future generations.

The portfolio of wines tasted at the seminar.

Gerard believes cultivating and processing grapes in accordance with the lunar calendar (the entire winemaking process from planting to bottling at Gerard Bertrand Group is determined by the cycles of the moon), result in wines that are better not only for the environment, but also the health and well-being of the consumer. Biodynamic methods of production also forbid the use of chemical additives, fertilizers, and pesticides. Instead, plant, animal, and insect species that support vine growth, nourishment, and aeration are introduced into the vineyards to naturally balance and maintain the ecosystem.

The wine lineup at the seminar.

Gerard is the ambassador and leading producer of biodynamic wines in the South of France. He’s one of those entrepreneurs that places his principles above profit. He believes, as winegrowers, it’s necessary to “regard nature with humility and respect.”

Likewise, as an entrepreneur, he feels it’s his responsibility to “cultivate optimism, pass on know-how and values, and adapt to a changing world.”

Biodynamic methods of farming are the only way to produce anything in a global environment beset by climate change, that is, if we want to keep the land sustainable for future generations. The Gerard Bertrand Group has 6 levels of certification. These include:

Demeter certification guaranteeing that the methods of production at the 16 estates work harmoniously with the natural environment around them.

CAB certification demonstrating support for winegrowers in the area seeking to convert to organic production.

AB certification verifying methods that preserve biodiversity and ecological balance including the production of sulfite-free and vegan wines.

No added sulfites certification that attest to the group’s adherence solely to natural, clean, and meticulous methods of production.

Vegan certification that guarantees product quality.

Bee-friendly certification as a member of a winegrower network that protects the well-being of pollinating insects. The group has 800 hectares of certified organic and bee-friendly farmland as part of an area agricultural partnership.

A selection of the wines presented at the seminar.

Some highlights from the Gerard Bertrand biodynamic wine portfolio:

Orange Gold, 2020, Vin de France

Produced using the ancestral winemaking method.

Blend of 6 grape varieties including Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Mauzac, and Muscat.

A prolonged maceration of the juice with the grape stems and skins gives the wine its orange-gold color. This wine represents an ode to Georgian wines.

Oak vat aging for 2-3 weeks followed by additional aging in amphora.

Balanced and structured, with a fresh minerality, and white flower and pepper, and candied citrus and orchard fruit, along with honey flavor profile.

Some more selections offered at the seminar.

Villa Soleilla, 2020, Vin de France

Blend of Roussanne, Vermentino, and Viognier.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. Aged in clay and glass amphoras, and ovoid stainless steel and wood tanks.

Clear golden color. Well-balanced and structured, with a good acidity, salinity, and minerality. Oriental tea, incense, and mandarin zest, as well as acacia honey aromas follow with apricot, bitter orange, and candied orgeat, along with quince, cream, and butter notes.

A row of reds that rounded out the tasting at the seminar.

Cigalus Blanc, 2020, IGP, Aude Hauterive

Blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc.

70% of the juice is fermented in new oak barrels, and 30% in stainless steel tanks. Matured in barrels for 7-8 months.

Golden yellow color.
Full-bodied, intense and complex, with a silky texture, and ripe grapefruit aromas, followed by white peach, papaya, and honey, as well as dried fruit, toast, butter notes.

Source of Joy, 2021, AOP, Languedoc

Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah.

Produced using the saignee method.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks. A portion of the wine is matured in oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation is used in order to preserve the freshness and the natural acidity.

Bright pink color. Fresh and lively, with a good acidity, and a strawberry, cherry, and subtle licorice flavor profile.

Change, Merlot, 2020 IGP, Pays d’ Oc

100% Merlot

Malolactic fermentation is followed by aging in wood.

Deep red color with purple inflections.

Velvety and round, with a blackcurrant, wild strawberry, and plum, along with mushroom and pepper flavor profile.

Clos d’ Ora, 2018, AOP, Minervois-La Liviniere

Blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan.

Macerated in concrete vats, then aged one year in French oak barrels.

Intense ruby color with purple inflections.

Velvety, smooth, and soft, with balanced, silky tannins, a good minerality, and vanilla, sweet spice, and peony, as well as garrigue, olive, and toast aromas, followed by blackcurrant and cherry notes.

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