Gérard Bertrand celebrates 30 years of winemaking

Languedoc wine producer Gérard Bertrand marked three decades of winemaking this week, reflecting on how far his own company and the wines of the region have come in that time.

Speaking to the drinks business at Vinisud this week, Bertrand said that the early years had been “a battle” but that he was proud of what had been achieved and the direction in which the Languedoc was now going.

“We have come a long way,” he reflected. “It was a battle. The image of the south of France was not good at the beginning, the focus was all on the entry level.

“The first 20 years was a battle to show my commitment to quality, to the terroirs – to excellence.”

Bertrand says that in this regard he was following the example set by his father, Georges, whom Bertrand claims was one of the first winemakers in the region to break away from just producing entry level and, “tried to elevate the wines and link them to terroirs”.

This focus on more top end brands – the Clos d’Ora label for example – has led to Bertrand’s wines being listed in shops such as Harrods’ wine department and Hedonism, a situation that would have been inconceivable 30 years ago.

“When I started we were very far away from these places but now we’re in alignment,” he said. “I’m proud of what we have achieved and I think over the next 20 years the south [of France] will be one of the most exciting places in the world,” he continued.

Part of the celebrations surrounding his 30 years at the head of the company included a dinner at the Château l’Hospitalet in La Clape, the heart of his oenotourism business and where a new, 800 square-metre, cellar door shop was officially opened.

Acquired in 2002, l’Hospitalet was key to the development of what Bertrand terms the ‘Art de Vivre’ of the south of France and the merging of wine with lifestyle and cuisine that he – along with fellow Languedoc heavyweight Domaines Paul Mas with its “le luxe rural” message – now spends a great deal of time promoting.

Bertrand also announced he had recently bought two estates, totalling 60 hectares, in Cabrières in the Hérault department. The neighbouring properties of Domaine du Temple and Château du Roc will be combined and used to produce a new rosé label – for which Cabrières is particularly well known – that will be released “very soon”.

Clearly seeing no end to the rosé boom, which he said was “amazing” and still going strong in France and the US and even the UK, Bertrand explained that the variety of Languedoc rosé, “in terms of flavour and colour brings in young people who then try the reds and whites.”

This week also saw the launch of a new range of wines called “Solar 6”, an organic range made in a manner that was “bee-friendly”.

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