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Bertrand: organics needs to become the new normal

Languedoc winemaker Gérard Bertrand is on a mission for organic viticulture to become the ‘new normal’, and believes consumers are ready for the change.

Gérard Bertrand is on a mission to make organic viticulture standard practice

Speaking during an organic and biodynamic wine webinar last week, Bertrand said that his approach was part of a long-term vision to help protect the planet.

“We are entering a new paradigm. We need organics to become the ‘new normal’. The wine industry needs to start moving from conventional to organic agriculture. I want to create a virtuous circle and help organics become standard practice.

“When I started out in the ‘80s I saw people using insecticides, pesticides and fungisides on their vines and had the intuition that it was important to change.

“This isn’t a marketing tool; it’s part of a long-term vision to protect the planet, fight against global warming and take care of the land for the next generation. This is just the beginning of the journey. People are ready for change.”

Bertand, who was named The Drinks Business Green Personality of the Year in 2020, said that the sunny climate of the Languedoc provided ideal conditions for organic and biodynamic viticulture.

“We have great conditions for producing organic and biodynamic wines in the south of France, and the quality of organic wines is now even better than conventional wines.

“Respecting biodiversity it important for the next generation. Only through biodynamic viticulture can you really reveal a sense of place. You need live soils to make quality wines,” he said.

Bertrand was inspired to go down the organic and biodynamic path after reading the teachings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who champions a sustainable approach to increasing soil fertility without the use of chemical fertilisiers and pesticides.

“Reading Steiner in 2002 was a revelation. I started out with five hectares at Cigalus then slowly converted over 2,000 acres of vineyard land to biodynamics.

“It helps the wines to be fresher and better balanced with higher acidity and vibrancy. The reds have more elegance and finesse. Being biodynamic shows the true meaning of terroir. They are wines that taste of somewhere not something.

“Some people believe that only small is beautiful, but it’s important for me to prove that you can use biodynamic principals on a large scale. I want to show the world that it can be done.”

Across his expansive wine range, Bertrand’s wines boast six different organic and biodynamic certifications, from AB and vegan certification to Bee Friendly.

“We have to save the bees – without them there would be no more human beings,” Bertrand said. He believes a biodynamic approach has helped to increase the ageing potential in his wines, and feels his top wines are able to age for up to half a century.

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