Bertrand: de Villaine showed me the biodynamic way

9th February, 2016 by Lucy Shaw

Languedoc legend Gerard Bertrand has revealed that his friend Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti inspired him to convert to biodynamics.

Speaking during a tasting of his wines at private member club 12 Hay Hill in London last night, Bertrand said: “My friend Aubert de Villaine inspired me to convert to biodynamics in 2002 with just two hectares of vines.

“My colleagues thought I was mad when I started out but now they can see the results – 30% of our vines are biodynamic and the aim is for 50% over the next five years and 80% over the next decade.

“Having switched to biodynamics I’ve noticed that the wines are more vibrant and fresh. We’ve reduced our yields by 20% as a result but the challenge is to be the best not the biggest.

“We plant by the phases of the moon and use different biodynamic preparations. We only blend on flower or fruit days as you feel a real greenness and bitterness in the wines on root days.

Bertrand's top drop Clos d'Ora

Bertrand’s top drop Clos d’Ora

“When converting to bioynamics you have to undergo three years of purgatory when the yields decline and not a lot happens, but then suddenly the vines come back to life and you witness this wonderful biodiversity in the soil.

“There is more acidity in our wines since we converted, meaning our whites can now age for over a decade whereas before they could only age for 2-3 years.”

Bretrand’s top wine, Clos d’Ora, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and old vine Carignan, comes from a 9-hectare site in Minervois-La Livinière.

A 16-year dream in the making, just 10,000 bottles of the £150 wine, which Bertrand describes as “an ode to Rudolf Steiner”, are made each year.

The name Clos d’Ora relates both to the Latin word “ora”, meaning prayer, and the Greek word for “hour” or “time”.

“Wine can be a spiritual thing and take you to the next level. First you have to attract people eye, nose and mouth, and then you have to try to connect with them on an emotional level and engage with their heart,” Bertrand said.

“The top of the pyramid is the message in the bottle and only a few wines manage to do this; to me it’s a spiritual message from god that connects with the soul,” he added.

On the subject of minerality Bertrand believes it’s odd how it is suddenly a hot topic in the UK. “I’ve talked about minerality for 20 years and now it’s a big thing in the UK.

“I think ‘mineral’ is a legitimate way to describe the salinity and mouth-watering sensation that you get with certain wines and its linked to stony soils,” he said.

“You can feel the salinity in the wines we make in La Clape, whereas you can taste the iron in silex soils,” he added.

A former professional rugby player, Bertrand is the custodian of 630 hectares of vines across 12 estates. His wines are on sale in 130 countries.

One Response to “Bertrand: de Villaine showed me the biodynamic way”

  1. Biodynamics increases total vineyard chemical pesticide use (synthetic chemical sulfur applications, use of a heavy metal copper, and drenching vines with synthetic petrochemical mineral oil) and generates higher greenhouse gas from tillage than sustainable farming. BD does multiples more environmental harm than is acceptable. And it does not conform to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Whether it improves wine quality has not been demonstrated. Why turn to these anti-intellectual astrology and homeopathic remedies prescribed by the spiritualist Rudolf Steiner in 1924? The marketing appeal is huge, but it fails to prove itself In any way other than anecdotally so why accept the real environmental damage it does?

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