by Zoltan Szabo
Gérard Bertrand of the Languedoc’s Chateau l’Hospitalet visited Toronto and poured his wines at top restaurant, Canoe, where he also showed a short film of his properties, followed by an excellent three course lunch. The elegantly dressed Bertrand, who brought his great sense of humour and story-telling ability, spoke about his family’s generations-long tradition of grape growing and his winemaking heritage, saying that “We are producing wines in the South of France for 24 centuries now, yet started marketing them in the last 24 years” and “Lick your stones to get a taste of the terroir”.
His vineyards include 160 hectares in the Corbières; 75 hectares in the Minervois; 60 hectares in the Vin de Pays D’Oc; 80 hectares in La Clape and 35 hectares in Limoux; total of 410 hectares of vineyards across the most beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon terroirs, some organically and biodynamically cultivated.
I was stunned by the diversity of the wines, characterful, terroir – focused and relatively good value, some excellent by-the-glass options for Sommeliers and restaurateurs alike.
In a total of 16 wines I tasted and liked most, here are those that stood out a bit more that the others, for me anyway.
2010 ‘Aigle Royal’ – 100% Chardonnay from Limoux from vineyards situated 500 meters above sea level, highest altitude in the South of France; apple – citrus – summer hay – hazelnut notes, lean, fresh and clean, reminding me of Chardonnay from Mâconnais.
2011 ‘Cigalus’ – mostly Viognier, with peaches – honey – floral accents; light and with very good acidity, clean aroma and flavor composition here yet again, seemingly a signature character of the whites.
2009 ‘Grand Terroir’ Montpeyroux – this red is a blend of 50% Mourvèdre with Syrah, Carignan and Grenache Noir adding the rest; black currant – spicy – floral; lighter – style and with lively freshness and smooth tannins.
2010 ‘Grand Terroir’ La Clape – 50% Syrah grown in limestone; deep – dense purple; black raspberry – plums – smoke – tar – seaweed – salty nuances; full and very well balanced with round tannins and a long – savoury – hickory finish.
2010 ‘Villemajou’ – Carignan – driven blend; plums – raspberries – vanilla – violet – beet – meat accents on its bouquet; full with dense tannins, a red wine yet to fully integrate; decant, or cellar for couple of years; try with a serious tomahawk steak.
2010 ‘Cigalus’ – grapes coming from the largest organic and biodynamic estate in France; blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Carignan and Caladoc, the latest a cross between Grenache and Malbec; cassis – deep spice; concentrated and fleshy with great purity of fruit and a gentle bite of tannins; warm finish; needs a bit of time in the cellar.
2009 ‘La Forge’ – made in tribute to Gerard’s father, from 110 years old Carignan with the addition of Syrah; black raspberry – herbal; full bodied and powerful, yet elegant, with supple tannins and remarkable integration and balance overall.
2010 ‘Hospitalitas’ – Syrah and Mourvèdre; blueberry – black olive paste – truffle – smoked meat; dense and open over the palate, suave and characterful with garrigue – packed tones, just the way I like it.
Finally, I also tasted the Bertrand family’s 1936 and 1974 ‘Legend Vintage’ Rivesaltes, fortified wines (vin doux naturel), I was shocked to witness such freshness in the 1936 (blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, and Macabeu), (Bertrand told me that the 1875 is also fresh like a daisy, still…).
Call Family Wine Merchants, yesterday…!
All scores out of five apples.
Explore the world’s great wine (and food) regions with expert guide Zoltan Szabo and Tourcan Vacations, beginning with Tuscany in September: click here to learn more and follow Zoltan’s Twitter feed at @zoltanszabo.