Gerard Bertrand, the man, fondly remembers his start in the wine business.
"Officially, it was 32 years ago," he says, "but actually, I started working with my father when I was 10, 44 years ago."
Gerard Bertrand, the brand, was the result of Bertrand's vision for the future of the Languedoc, the vast wine region that follows the contours of the Mediterranean in the south of France, from Provence to the border with Spain.
"I fell in love with the beauty of the south of France," said Bertrand, "and the potential."
Indeed, when Bertrand launched what is now an impressive empire, the future for wine in the Languedoc seemed bleak. The largest wine-producing region in the world, the Languedoc was infamous for cheap, lifeless wine made for the most part in the industrial cooperatives that dominated the wine business of the region.
What Bertrand saw, though, were beautiful vineyards with old vines planted in schist and limestone. The fruit from those vines generally got lost in the haste to produce quantity over quality. One of the first vineyards Bertrand bought when he set out to make great wine from the Languedoc was a site in Cabrieres that had once been cultivated by the Templars.
This is where Gerard Bertrand produces Clos du Temple, an exquisite rose wine crafted from grenache, syrah, cinsault and the white grape viognier.
"The message of this wine is terroir," he says. It is the most expensive rose wine in the world, at $190 per bottle for the 2018 vintage. Only 200 cases have been designated for the U.S. market. It truly is a marvel, with precise fruit notes, bright acidity and a creamy texture.
It is certainly one of the finest rose wines I've ever tasted. While I'm not sure the world is ready for a $200 rose, history teaches us only a fool would doubt Gerard Bertrand, the visionary.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
La Valentina 2017 Pecorino, Pecorino Colline Pescaresi IGT, Italy ($16) — Though this obscure Italian white-grape variety is fermented in stainless steel tanks, it offers a distinct note of nuts and spice along with aromas of peach and apple. Fresh and clean on the palate, it finishes with a lingering spice note. Outstanding for the price. Rating: 90.
Morgan 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Monterey ($18) — Morgan's sauvignon is made in the manner of Bordeaux blanc, with aging in French oak barrels that imparts a level of complexity and spice that is missing in many California sauvignons. This vintage shows aromas of white peach and tropical fruits with a touch of vanilla on the finish. Rating: 90.
Murphy-Goode 2017 Pinot Grigio, California ($12.50) — Winemaker Dave Ready Jr. adds a splash of chardonnay to his pinot grigio, and the result is a touch more body and spice to go with the citrus notes typically associated with this grape variety. The perfect summer quaffer. Rating: 86.
Murphy-Goode 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast ($14) — The Murphy-Goode touch with sauvignon blanc is evident here, producing a plush sauvignon that shows richness and softness on the palate with notes of tropical fruit, melon and grapefruit. Easy to drink and enjoyable to the last drop. Rating: 86.
Valentin 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.99) — Argentina is still the place to go for inexpensive but solid red wines. The 2017 Cab from Valentin shows a forward note of red fruits and spice with a touch of wood spice on the finish. Rating: 85.
ZD 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley ($230) — ZD long ago made its mark with chardonnay. Cabernet Sauvignon of this ilk is a more recent phenomenon. The 2015 vintage, outstanding throughout the Napa Valley, allowed ZD to produce a reserve that stands with some of the finest Cabs ever made in the valley. Showing layered dark fruit complexity, with notes of rich cassis and wood spice and firm but nicely integrated tannins, a note of graphite and impressive length on the finish, the 2015 Reserve Cab is a triumph for the winery and a wine worthy of extended cellar time. Rating: 98.
Tablas Creek 2016 Espirit de Tablas, Adelaida District ($60) — It's an ongoing mystery that domestic red Rhone-style blends are not more popular, particularly given the remarkable success of Tablas Creek. The Paso Robles winery has an impressive track record with the Rhone grapes, i.e., syrah, grenache, mourvedre, etc. The epitome of each vintage for Tablas is typically its Espirit de Tables blend, and the 2016 is a beauty. This vintage is heavy on the mourvedre (46%) with syrah, grenache and counoise in support roles. This brilliant wine exhibits exceptional fruit purity with notes of sweet red currant, plum and spice. A gentle savory note adds complexity. Ready to drink now but built to last, I wouldn't hesitate to cellar this wine another five to eight years. Rating: 95.
Siduri 2016 Pinot Noir, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($55) — The beauty of the wines from the Sta. Rita Hills is the concentration of aroma and the complexity that is inherent on cool-climate vineyards that allow for long "hang time" and maximum flavor development. Siduri's 2016 from the John Sebastiano Vineyard is a meaty wine that offers complex savory and sweet fruit aromas, particularly cherry, raspberry and strawberry. On the palate, the wine displays impressive weight without sacrificing its elegance, and the finish has exceptional length, with a spice note that begs another sip. Rating: 92.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at [email protected]
Photo credit: kaboompics at Pixabay