One of the most renowned winemakers in the world, Gérard Bertrand has a portfolio that acts as a representation of Languedoc’s terroir. Among the vines of southern France since age 10, Bertrand has an active approach to understanding what makes great wine. He continues to develop his estates, never settling for anything less than the best. In fact, Bertrand is considered a visionary across appellation, estate, still, sparkling and dessert wines. During the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, Bertrand was present to debut Diving into Hampton Water, a premium rosé conceptualized with Jesse Bongiovi and his father Jon Bon Jovi. As far as celebrity collaborations go, the wine is most certainly on the successful side of the scale. We spoke with Bertrand, about this new venture and his years championing biodynamic wine production. With charm and elegance, his mastery became evident immediately.
“I started to work with in organic agriculture 25 years ago,” he shares with Cool Hunting. “But I first opened the book by Rudolf Steiner in 2002. It was a revelation for me.” Bertrand read Steiner’s book, “Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method,” three times in a row to understand the concepts in their entirety. This type of growing is very much a holistic approach, and implementation must be careful and closely moderated. For his conversion process, Bertrand “chose all the vineyards that were Cigalus estate”—his flagship, and also hometown. He says, “I started to work four acres of each in conventional agriculture and four I turned to biodynamic farming. In two years I saw changes in the vineyard—and the cellar.” He then converted all of Cigalus to the biodynamic system.
It is quite evident to anyone paying attention that the rosé has expanded beyond expectation—in terms of both supply and demand. “At the beginning, the culture of rosé was only in the south of France—not even in all of France,” he tells us. Bertrand observed that 10 years ago, people began drinking it all year long throughout France, and the culture worldwide began to shift from champagne to rosé for moments of celebration. “It also grew with the concept of happy hours,” he adds, “When you drink rosé it’s to connect with people.” Whereas, with a red, or a quality white wine, it’s more for oneself.
We pressed Bertrand on what it meant to produce a premium rosé—how his work and this collaborative product differs from others. “Premium means a rosé that you can drink all day, but also one that you can have with lunch or dinner. For me, the food and wine pairing is very important.” With Hampton Water, that meant select grapes from his best vineyards and aging 25% of them in white oak. The goal here was high freshness, minerality, acidity and a long finish. “I think when you create a wine, especially when you want to create a new concept like this wine, every part must be considered over and over again. It’s 1001 things and it’s about a vision of creating something more than a rose,” he says, explaining that even the highest quality components only work together in specific ways.
“My job is to find the best place and the best grapes coming from the best terroir. The big advantage with the South of France is the beautiful terroir,” he continues. “The wine has to deliver the message of the grape blend and the message of the terroir. This is the music the wine will give to you.” There is a spirituality to Bertrand’s approach, especially regarding biodynamic farming. This is witnessed through his book, “Wine, Moon and Stars: A South of France Experience,” and even the way he speaks. “When we decided to start the biodynamic process, for my team it was a big change. For years it was difficult. Now, all of them are connected with nature. It’s the most important.” Bertrand believes you must start with the sunrise.
“Our mission is to promote this way of working,” he concludes. “We fight for biodiversity. It’s important to explain to people that biodiversity is crucial to all of us.” Bertrand truly is a master grower and as a result of his beliefs and undertakings, he is drawing higher acidity that expected from his region. With it, he also pulls out the minerality necessary for a complex wine. And finally, especially with Hampton Water, he’s offering something fresh.
Estate images courtesy of David Fritz Goeppinger, Hampton Water event image courtesy of Gérard Bertrand