Today’s wine of the week comes from the Cigalus vineyard, a property Gerard 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 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 revived this post because I wanted to write about when I met Bertrand. It was many years ago when he hosted a lunch at Per Se for 50 journalists. It was a meal I will never forget and he was then and even more now, a larger than life figure to me. That day he gave away a bottle of wine from 1929 to my friend Mort Hochstein. Mort passed away today I read on social media. I hadn’t seen him in a maybe a year or 1 1/2 years and I was very sad to see this news. Mort was a gentleman, a professional, and a mensch and so much more. I will, like so many others in the industry, will miss him.