As part of Wine Paris, I attended a Gérard Bertrand dinner on Ducasse sur Seine, which is a remarkable electric restaurant boat that cruises silently up the river as you eat. The wines were a selection from his premium portfolio, matched with dishes from Ducasse. So it was quite fancy. And with good company, and a lovely view of the city at night, it was a nice evening.
The first wine was Villa Soleilla, which is probably the world’s most expensive orange wine. It’s made from vineyards close to the Bertrand base at Château L’Hospitalet. ‘The idea is to create the most iconic orange wine,’ says Gerard. It’s aged three ways: one-thirds in amphora, one-third in glass, and one-third in oak. Gerard says he’s celebrating the work of the Georgians: ‘This is where wine started.’ The white grapes are fermented on skins for three to four weeks. ‘The idea is to move from strong bitterness to light bitterness,’ he says, regarding the maceration.
Gérard Bertrand Villa Soleilla 2020 Vin de France
This is complex and intense with marmalade and honey aromas, as well as some green tea, peach and apricot. The palate follows, with good acidity and refined structure. Finishes with beautiful spicy notes. Lovely stuff that is complex and remarkably refined: a very fine expression of orange wine. 95/100
The second was Bertrand’s prestige rosé, Clos du Temple. ‘The idea is to celebrate 5000 years of history,’ says Gérard. So we go from the celebration of 8000 years of Georgian orange wine, to the first wines made in Egypt. We celebrate the origins of wine combined with the Mediterranean lifestyle. This rosé comes from a special place. ‘The terroir is unbelievable,’ says Gérard. ‘It’s schist with limestone underneath. The idea [with Clos du Temple] was to compete with Provence: we have the same varieties, the same sun, the same lifestyle – now we play at the same level as them, and maybe even higher!’
Gérard Bertrand Clos du Temple Rosé 2020 AOP Languedoc-Cabrières, France
Delicate, refined nose of pear, subtle red cherry and some mineral hints. The palate is lively and focused with pear, citrus, a hint of mandarin and a finely spiced tapering finish. Lovely complexity and delicacy showing here. Some saline notes, too, on the finish. 94/100
Gérard Bertrand Cigalus 2019 IGP Aude Hauterive, France
This is lively and intense with pineapple, citrus, pear and a touch of peach. Rich and rounded but also fresh and fruity, with lovely depth. Covers all the flavour spectrum, finishing bright. 94/100
Clos de Ora is a special place in Minervois La Livinière, and 2013 was a unique vintage for this property. On 13 October, while the grapes were still on the vine, there was a -3 C frost. The grapes were picked 2 days later and all the leaves had fallen. ‘The vats smelt spicy,’ says Gérard. ‘You could smell white and black pepper.’ He says that this wine has a long life ahead of it, but it’s good to drink it now. This was served with lobster, which is an unusual match, but the addition of a dark, savoury sauce with some red wine in it bridged the gap very effectively.
Gérard Bertrand Clos d’Ora 2013 AOP Minervois La Livinière, France (from magnum)
Sleek, ripe and rich. This is bold with some olive notes, as well as cured meat, together with smooth black cherry and blackberry fruit. There’s liqueur-like richness. Warm, rich and spicy with richness and complexity. 94/100
Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Pinot Noir 2015 IGP Haute Vallée de L’Aude, France
Supple, fresh and elegant with ripe, sweet, grainy cherry fruit and some chalky undertones. Has nice texture and a lovely expressive quality, with nice freshness. A lovely southern expression of Pinot Noir. 93/100
Gérard Bertrand Legend Vintage 1942 AOP Rivesaltes, France
This is a remarkable wine at the age of 80. It’s refined, complex and spice with notes of marmalade and honey, with some raisiny richness and even a touch of cherry fruit. Very smooth and refined with a spicy twist. Sweet, intense, complex and altogether delicious. 97/100
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