French wine is sexy.
Admit it. There’s a part in all of us that would love to be dining al fresco overlooking the Mediterranean Sea via a secluded perch somewhere – anywhere – in the South of France and savoring the perfect wine paired with a mouth-watering array of artisan cheese, local meats and fresh bread.
For the wine lover in all of us, is there a prettier picture?
Then allow me to introduce you to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, neatly nestled along the coastline of the Mediterranean, in between Spain and the French region of Provence. Perhaps you’re already familiar. Excellent. But, for those of you who only think of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Rhone when talking about the great wine-producing regions of France, let’s expand one’s mind and palate.
Languedoc-Roussillon is the single largest wine-producing region in the world, responsible for more than a third of France’s total wine production. It’s a versatile region, much like our very own Temecula, able to produce varietals ranging from Syrah & Mourvedre, to Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, to Chardonnay & Rousanne, to Muscat & Grenache. It’s a winemaker’s paradise.
Especially for a winemaker like Gerard Bertrand.
“Wine Enthusiast Magazine” named his winery, Chateau l’Hospatilet, European Winery of the Year for 2011, for not only Bertrand’s array of quality wines of great value, but for his ability to capture the “South of France” lifestyle within each one of his corked bottles. His style is indeed “L’Art de Vivre” — “the Art of Life.”
Why are we talking about Gerard Bertrand’s wine, you may ask? Simple. Because he is making French wine in a very California style – rich, ripe fruits, bolder body and color and extremely affordable.
Take it a step further, if you will — Southern French vintages made in our Southern California style. Temecula and Paso Robles share a very similar climate to Southern France.
Also, we Californians love fruit-forward wines. That’s simply who we are. And Bertrand knows this.
Let’s take a look at a few of his current vintages:
–2010 Cremant De Limoux Blanc ($13) — This Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc sparkling blend was made in the Methode Champenoise style. Elegant and tiny, the bubbles add just the right effervescence to this light, lemony, floral treat. Brunch style bubbly.
–Naturalys Grenache Rose ($18) — The delicate strawberry nose combined with the lively, crisp, and fresh palate equals a superior light entree wine. Salads and fresh seafood are easy pairing decisions.
–2008 Grand Terroir Tautavel ($19) — Mature cheeses and grilled meats will gladly be paired with this ripe, spicy, fruit-forward Grenache/Syrah/Carignan blend. The Carignan makes the wine “pop” and explode on the palate.
–2010 Cigalus ($35) – Dark ripened fruit, oak, and grilled spice prevail when this monster of a wine opens up. Great with spicy foods and even sweet cheeses. It’s primarily a Bordeaux-style blend (Cab Sauv, Franc, Merlot) with a touch of Rhone. In essence, the perfect Southern French style red wine. Fantastique!
–1998 Domaine de La Coume Du Roy ($35) — A late harvest Grenache-based dessert wine with strong maple syrup notes. Honey bourbon-like perhaps. It’s not a port as it’s not fortified, and the alcohol (16%) is moderate. Smooth, sweet, and transcendent.
Ask your local wine retailer if they carry Gerard Bertrand’s wine and prepare yourself to be transported to the South of France and its “art de vivre.”
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.