Today’s post, the first in a long while, is about a wine that I received as part of the French #Winophiles group. The wine is from Gérard Bertrand and is called Cigalus Blanc, it’s a 2018 Biodyamic wine from IGP Aude Hauterive.
In my title I say Bertrand is larger than life and that’s for a few specific regions. He is extremely tall, 6′ 5″, a former star Ruby player, handsome and most importantly a force for his region – the Languedoc Roussillon. He inherited a very large property from his father with some 920-hectares and 15 vineyard empire throughout the Languedoc. and began moving towards biodynamics. Now he is a leader in the field with a very large property, that boasts a Jazz Festival each summer at Château L’Hospitalet, a 38-room hotel, a Michelin-rated restaurant named L’Art de Vivre , and a book out called “Wine, Moon and Stars: A South of France Experience.”
If all of that wasn’t enough, he’s also doing work to encourage the protection of our planet. As an avid follower of biodynamics, he spoke at the recent conference in Portugal called “Climate Change Leadership: Solutions for the Wine Industry.”
Biodynamics as we know is a complicated topic that emerged from a series of lectures held in 1924 by the Austrian Doctor Rudolf Steiner .
Steiner believed that the farm needed to be looked at as a self-supporting entity that could prosper through a system of biodiversity He blended into his philosophy an approach that included soil, plant, animal and human health and their interplay with the cosmos and Mother Nature. He created different preparations that could help boost the immune system of the farm and he believed they would activate a virtuous cycle throughout the farm environment. Interestingly, Bertrand himself came to biodynamics after visiting a homeopathic doctor.
Getting back to our wine, it comes from the Cigalus vineyard, a property Bertrand purchased in 1995. Bertrand made Cigalus his family-home. With the birth of his children, he wanted to create a healthy and sustainable farm. While he had been using homeopathy on himself for years, his foray into biodynamics on his farms began with a couple of hectares at Cigalus in 2002. Thanks to help from a team including Gilles de Baudus and Richard Planas it became Demeter certified in 2010.
Domaine de Cigalus has a Mediterranean climate but it is also in an area known for its cool soils which are very deep with sedimentary deposits from the Aussous, a local stream near the property. The soils are a bedrock of sandstone from the secondary era with top soils of sand and clay which offer good drainage as well. Cigalus is not in an AOC area and this wine is an IGT. The Aude Hauterive is home to a range of mountains that rise to 2000 ft or 600 meters above sea level. This is important because it brings a cooler climate and breezes that temper the hot semi-arid Mediterranean climate which allows quality grapes to thrive.
In fact, the yields on this wine are extremely low at 25 hl/ha, meaning they select the very best grapes. All the work they do in the vineyard is in tune with the biodynamic calendar and guided by the Moon and the Sun.
The wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier. All three are harvested by hand. Some two-thirds of the wine goes through fermentation in new French barriques while the other third ferments in stainless steel. The three separate musts are then blended and aged in barrels until the equinox. They do a fair bit of lees stirring.
I tried it immediately when I received it as a sample for this tasting. I loved both the appearance and the aromas and flavors I found on the nose and palate. It had great texture and aromatics which come both from the varieties used and the wood. Viognier jumped out of the glass with floral notes but there was also a lot of tangy fresh hay which came from the Sauvignon I’m sure and the richness and honey, apple from the Chardonnay. I brought it a family dinner and had it with a beautiful Turkey that we were eating. I think it would pair well with a number of different foods thanks both to the aromatics and structure of this wine. I was intrigued by this wine which costs around $36 about and look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts and our discussion today.
I really enjoyed jumping into this topic. I met Bertrand many years ago when he hosted a lunch at Per Se for 50 journalists. It was a meal I would never forget and he was then and even more now, a larger than life figure to me.
Join the French #Winophiles (Twitter: #Winophiles) later today, Saturday, May 18th from 11 am – 12 pm ET as we discuss the Gérard Bertrand Wine Cigalus Blanc.
Here’s who’s coming from French #Winophiles: