Bertrand: Biodynamics changed my life

Converting to biodynamics has been life-changing for Languedoc winemaker Gérard Bertrand, who has seen the acidity levels in some of his wines increase by 50% as a result.

Converting to biodynamics has been “life-changing” for Gérard Bertrand

Speaking during an online tasting of his latest vintages, Bertrand said: Biodynamics changed my life. It’s a philosophy about looking for balance and harmony between humans and nature; it’s a natural and ethical approach.

“Working with biodynamic practices leads to deeper roots, healthier leaves, and more balance, minerality, aromatic complexity, freshness, harmony and energy in the wines.

“We have increased the acidity levels in some of our wines by 50% in four years, which is spectacular, and more acidity than you’d sometimes find in Burgundy.

“Biodynaimcs reinforces the acidity in wine and a low pH. When you stop using potassium you increase the acidity levels. Biodynamics reinforces the sense of place in wines and creates wines with a very distinctive character.

“The role of the wine grower is to give each vine the force and energy it needs so it can grow in good health without the use of chemicals. We have to respect nature. We work only with mules and horses in some of our vineyards to lower our carbon footprint.”

Bertrand follows the biodynamic philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and makes viticultural decisions in accordance with Maria Thun’s biodynamic calendar.

Among the plants and preparations Bertrand uses on his vines are: nettles to reduce hydric stress; yarrow to cool the vines; oak bark to strengthen grape skins; dandelion to protect against fungi; and horsetail to protect against mildew.

Bertrand uses mules to plough some of his vineyards

All of Bertrand’s 16 estates, spanning over 800 hectares of vines, are either fully converted to biodynamics or are in the conversion process.

Having initially experimented with just four hectares at Domaine de Cigalus in Corbières in 2002, now over 60% of his vineyards are certified biodynamic by Demeter, and the remaining 40% are in the process of being certified.

Bertrand is busy building up a library collection of back vintages of his top wines, including red blend Clos d’Ora and high-end rosé Clos du Temple, so fans of the wines are able to get hold of them after they have commercially sold out. “We keep 15-20% back depending on the vintage,” Bertrand said.

As for the 2020 vintage, Bertrand is hopeful for an “excellent” result. “I still have to look in my crystal ball when it comes to the red wines, as we haven’t finished the harvest yet but we had a good summer that wasn’t too hot.

“We had some rain at the end of August, which was very good for the whites and rosés – 2020 is a juicy year.

“We have already harvested the Syrah and Grenache and it tastes very good. I think 2020 will be between very good and excellent in quality,” he said.

Gerard Bertrand’s wines are on sale in 175 countries. The company’s turnover last year was over US$145m. He employs 320 people worldwide.

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