[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]
This is the kind of tasting opportunity that wine geeks drool over: three bottles, one producer, one general wine region, similar grapes, identical pricing ($25ish), same winemaking processes, but three different and distinct subregions, each with their own soils, microclimate and story to tell.
The producer is Gerard Bertrand, visionary winemaker from the south of France who was literally born to do what he’s doing: a local of the area, he started making wine with his father at the age of 10. The region is the Languedoc-Roussillon, a sun-drenched area stretching along the Mediterranean coast on the southern edge of central France. It is the world’s single biggest wine-producing area with around 700,000 acres under vine, although this is not necessarily a good thing; it has been known as the “wine lake” of France for churning out vast quantities of crude jug wine for cheap consumption, more than people could possibly buy, creating massive stockpiles of reputation-draining plonk and setting the region back in the eyes of the wine world. However, the Languedoc-Roussillon is in the midst of a quality renaissance thanks to a few passionate producers, Bertrand included, who see the potential for greatness in the land. The result, if you know what (or, more accurately, who) to look for, is a series of unparalleled wine values that can knock your socks off for the price.
You don’t see many wines with Languedoc-Roussillon subregions on the label in this market: either they’re from the popular catch-all Vins de Pays d’Oc (now known as Pays d’Oc IGP) umbrella region or from a similar overarching area like Cotes du Roussillon. I have been heavily into wine for a number of years and had never heard of two of the three sub-zones highlighted in this trio of bottles: Tautavel and Montpeyroux. The third, Pic Saint Loup, is probably the best-known quality subregion in the Languedoc, but it remains woefully underrepresented here. Bertrand’s Grand Terroir series of wines is intended to change that and to shine the spotlight on these specific and distinctive parts of Languedoc-Roussillon, to prove that the area is more than just a bulk conglomerate. After tasting the three Grand Terroir bottles side by side by side, I have to say that he’s on to something. The terroir showdown begins now! Read the rest of this entry »