Showing posts with label Gérard Bertrand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gérard Bertrand. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2018

O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines Now On Offer


O’Brien’s Cut Deep. Over 100 Wines On Offer


The much anticipated annual sale at O’Brien’s Wine is on since last Saturday and, as you can see, from the examples below, the cuts are mega, 36% in the case of the d’Arenberg. Indeed some price cuts go as deep as 50%.

So, if you fancy a red or a white, something from the Old World or something from the New, something dry, something sweet, O’Brien’s is well worth checking out.

d'Arenberg d'Arrys Shiraz/Grenache McLaren Vale 2015, 14.5%, €13.95 (down from 21.95) 

This bottle, with the d’Arenberg stripe, has fragrant fruity aromas. Colour is mid to dark ruby and it is fruity, spicy and fresh on the rewarding palate. Rich but not overpowering with excellent acidity playing a key role. Tannins feature also in a well textured wine. Good finish too and Very Highly Recommended. “A real go-to wine if you are ever stuck for a great bottle at a sensible price.” And they are talking about the original price!

The barrel fermented component is aged on lees to keep the wine fresh while also reducing the oak influence. There is no racking until final blending. This young wine will benefit from decanting and may also be kept for a few years. 

Did you know they use foot treading here (two thirds of the way through fermentation)? And fermentation is then completed in a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques. 

I didn’t know about the foot treading. Nor did I know that all d’Arenberg estate and leased vineyards are NASAA Certified for organic and biodynamic processes. These practices also ensure that yields are kept low with concentrated flavours and excellent natural acidity. And the proof is in this bottle! 


Katnook 10-Acres Malbec Coonawarra 2017, 13%, €14.95 (down from 21.95)

This smooth full-bodied Malbec comes not from South America nor from Southern France but from South Australia. Dark ruby is the colour and there are scents of plum with hints of vanilla. Rich flavours of juicy cherry and plum, plus mocha, abound on the palate. Some spice there too. Tannins are ripe and there’s freshness enough. The wine has power enough to smoothly match your steak, or your kangaroo! Highly Recommended. 

Katnook Estate is long established in central Coonawarra in an area once known as Fat Land, red fertile lands now called Terra Rossa. in 1890, the land was sold off in 10 acre units and vendor John Riddoch kept the best blocks for himself at Katnook HQ.

Other Suggestions

I’ll be taking a closer look at some O’Brien whites soon but in the meantime here are a few other bottles worth looking out for.

Gérard Bertrand is a winemaker always seeking out. His Cigalus Red is renowned, a biodynamic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rich and full bodied this Languedoc gem is down from €38.95 to 29.95. His Domaine de Villemajou is another stalwart, another full-bodied beauty, this a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, and Syrah, and is available at €16.95, a saving of four euro.

From Portugal’s Duoro comes the gorgeous Tons de Duorum Red, a wine I enjoyed a few months back. No shortage of ripe fruit flavours on the elegant palate, refreshing with a little spice there too, fine tannins and a lovely soft finish. Another good value wine from the Duoro and even better value now that the price is down from €15.45 to 11.95.

Recently on the blog, I highlighted a couple of wines by Isla and Paul Gordon from Sarabande in Faugeres. One was the Misterioso and this is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. This is now reduced as is their top wine, the Bousigue.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Very Likeable Rogue. And One Sweet Wine.


A Very Likeable Rogue in his Sunday best

Matsu “El Picaro” Tinta de Toro (DO) 2017, 14.5%, €16.95 Bradley’s


Le Rogue
This “series” of wine, Matsu de Domingo”, recalls the spirit of the old Spanish Sunday: rest, church in your Sunday best, special dishes and the best wine opened. Check the website here for more details on this and others in the series.

Tinta de Toro is, as you probably know, Tempranillo, and the Matsu vines in the Toro region are cultivated using organic techniques. Like the man on the label, this El Picaro has youth on its side,  even if the fruit comes from 90 year old vines. The other wines show progressively older faces - worth a look on their website.

And that youth is illustrated in the deep ruby colour. There are intense dark berry aromas. On the palate, fruit flavours are the prominent feature as this fresh wine makes his merry way to a very pleasant finish indeed. Very Highly Recommended. I told you this is a engaging rogue! Even if some frown when there is a giggle, with El Picaro at its source, in the back of the chapel.

“The freshly ironed new shirt, the shiny shoes and the special hat. The best stews and the best wine. Tomorrow they will go back to work, but today is a day to rest and celebrate.  Today is Sunday.”  Enjoy!

Sweetly Traditional

Gerard Bertrand Banyuls Traditionnel (AP) 2013, 16%, €23.95 (got it on sale 19.16) O’Brien’s


Grenache, mostly from ancient bushes and often harvested only when they have reached the dried wrinkly stage (like raisins), is the main grape in this naturally sweet wine (vin doux naturel or VDN for short).  The fruit is grown in Mediterranean cooled French vineyards around Banyuls-sur-Mer, close to the Spanish border. 

While the traditional vinification process is underway and when the alcohol reaches 8 or 9 per cent, fermentation is halted by light fortification with a spirit. That full-stop leaves some sugar in the wine.

Banyuls is often compared to Port but is a gorgeous dessert wine in its own right, tasting drier than it actually is - no cloying syrupy stuff here. 

In the Rhone area of Rasteau they make a similar red dessert wine that also goes well with blue cheese (among other things, including chocolate). The World Atlas of Wine says straight out that Banyuls is France’s finest VDN.

Our Gerard Bertrand has a garnet colour; the aromas are of small red and darker fruit. On the palate it is full and well-balanced, fresh, elegant, yet with power and persistence. Very Highly Recommended.

They recommend pairing it with desserts of fruit, with créme brulée, with foie gras and also as an aperitif. I tried it with a mature Cashel Blue and it was quite a treat.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand

Three Wines of Gérard Bertrand
Gérard Bertrand’s company in the south of France now has a total of 14 vineyards. Two thirds or so have been converted to biodynamic and his plan is to make all 750 hectares biodynamique by 2020, according to Decanter (August) 2017),”making this the largest group of biodynamic estates in the world”. L’Hospitalet is their flagship vineyard and, according to the Bertrand website, “the jewel of the Languedoc-Roussillon”. 

Gérard was an accomplished rugby player, capped three times by France “A” and played at a high level with local club Narbonne. His love of both rugby and wine was encouraged by his father, a Corbieres grower and a top-level ruby referee.

Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Sud de France (IGP) 2014, 15%, €38.95 (got it at 28.95 on offer) O’Brien’s.

The majority of the Bertrand wines are the issue of “agriculture biodynamique” and this is one. The fruit has been sourced from the best sites on Domaine Cigalus and the varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Caladoc - “Bordeaux varietals with local Languedoc varieties" as he told me in Cork last November.

The Cigalus colour is a deep ruby and legs, as you'd expect, are slow to clear. Aromas were aptly summed up by a tasting partner as “yummy plum-y”. It is opulent on the palate, dark fruit again featuring strongly, some spice too. The sun and moon play a part in all vineyard decisions and it worked out well here, leaving us with a celestial finalé. Very Highly Recommended. Try with roasted red meat, poultry “en sauce”, mature cheeses.
An old "tracteur" in a Languedoc Wine Museum

Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Villemajou Corbieres Boutenac (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €20.95 (got it at 16.76 on offer) O’Brien’s

Villemajou, planted mainly with Syrah and Carignan, was the family home and is the spearhead of the Boutenac Premier Cru appellation in the low barren hills of the northern part of Corbieres, split by the A61 between Carcassonne and Narbonne. The wines are fruity, spicy and, even when young, have silky and incredibly fine tannins.


The blend in this red is mainly Syrah and Carignan while Grenache and Mourvedre are also used; it spends 10-12 months in oak. It is a fairly deep garnet with aromas of stewed fruit aromas, hints of coffee. On the palate, it is fruity, spicy and silky. Quite an impressive concentrated drop - the vineyard predicts it will age well - and Highly Recommended.



Gérard Bertrand Domaine de L’Aigle Pinot Noir Haut Vallée de L’Aude (IGP) 2014, 13.5%, €19.95 (got it at 15.56 on offer) O’Brien’s


The domaine, at 500 metres, is high for the Languedoc and harvests are later. The combination has its advantages: “..it preserves the aromas of the grapes as well as giving the wine a durability… and maintains a high natural acidity…. The characteristic vinification process focuses on the important effect of wood.. the use of barrels is significant.”

Colour is a mid ruby red. There is an aromatic nose indeed but it is the vanilla that seems to dominate the fruit. So, as they say themselves, the nine months in French oak is significant.

On the palate, it is soft, elegant, fruity and spicy. Must say I was relieved to sense the fruit back in velvety control here plus that matching acidity, all the way through to a long finish. Another well-structured Bertrand wine and another Highly Recommended.