Replacement Wine Review: 2012 Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic Saint Loup

6 08 2015

[This bottle was provided, for a second time, as a sample for review purposes.]

If at first you don't succeed...

If at first you don’t succeed…

If you were reading this blog one week and two posts ago (and I’ll forgive you, if quietly resent you, if you haven’t), you will remember this bottle.  One of three contenders in a Languedoc-Roussillon Terroir Showdown, and arguably the favourite by virtue of coming from the most recognizable and lauded subregion that area has to offer (the excellently named Pic Saint Loup), this 2012 Gerard Bertrand offering instead had to be disqualified from the competition because the bottle I got was corked, affected by a musty, devious molecule called TCA that lent it a faint newspaper-left-out-in-a-Calgary-hailstorm smell and sapped it of its life and flavour.  But tonight will be different.  Tonight Pic Saint Loup gets its revenge, and its shot at glory.

Put otherwise, I got another bottle of the 2012 Grand Terroir PSL and it was thankfully clean of cork taint, allowing me to actually find out what was going on with the wine.  I will skip a lengthy Gerard Bertrand/Languedoc-Roussillon exposition because I talked about each at rather extreme length last week, but will sum them up by saying that the Languedoc-Roussillon is quickly becoming THE world region for value wine if you pick carefully and choose the right producer, and Gerard Bertrand is a Languedoc lifer and prodigious talent who definitely fits in that category.

Once more, just because I can:  from the PnP Hand-Traced Map collection.

Once more, just because I can: from the PnP Hand-Traced Map collection.

The Pic Saint Loup looked the same in the glass as it did last week, a soft semi-transparent ruby that became near opaque at the core.  It certainly did not smell the same, with none of that unclean TCA lifelessness floating overtop of and muting the other aromas.  Instead, it was what I expected when sticking my nose in the glass the first time:  deep, lush, brambly blackberry and blueberry fruit, anise, baker’s chocolate and rosemary, tinged with smokier, earthier notes like coffee grounds/wet dirt and campfire and then finished off by a trace of confectionary candy, like those raspberry marshmallows or the smell of Bazooka Joe gum.  I warn you:  once you smell Bazooka Joe in a wine, you can’t un-smell it and it becomes ALL you can think of.

Cork Rating:  8/10 (Just a sweet all-around cork.  Love the little GB on the side.)

Cork Rating: 8/10 (Just a sweet all-around cork. Love the little GB on the side.)

After that arsenal of aroma, I was surprised to find that the PSL wasn’t full-bodied, remaining a slightly hefty but deft medium instead, tightened by driven acid that attacks as soon as the wine hits the tongue and levelled off by sandy tannin.  The flavours I noticed first were the savoury and grounded ones, a tomato-y meatiness, fallen leaves and a dank note like tar, but these encircled the heart of the wine, full of smoky raspberry and blueberry fruit.  I came in expecting an assertive Southern France sun monster but instead found a red as impeccably poised as a ballerina, somehow embracing its rusticity and showcasing utter refinement at the same time.  It’s a slam dunk repeat buy for its $25 price tag.

But does it unseat the current champion of last week’s Gerard Bertrand Terroir Showdown, the 2010 Grand Terroir Montpeyroux?  Almost, but not quite.  There’s nothing lacking in this bottle that makes me stick with the Montpeyroux, but I was so taken by the singular focus of the latter (super cassis to an amazing degree) and by the purity of its flavour that it remains the more drink-worthy and memorable wine by a hair.  Still, this was an amazing study for me as to the many ways that just a slight trace of cork taint can subtly ruin an incredible wine in ways that many people may not even notice.  I’m glad to have had the chance to put things right and give this Pic Saint Loup the praise it clearly deserves.

90 points

$20 to $25 CDN

"A great wine is nothing other than the accomplishment of a man in his quest for perfection, refinement and excellence in the service of his terroir."  Sing it.

“A great wine is nothing other than the accomplishment of a man in his quest for perfection, refinement and excellence in the service of his terroir.” Sing it.

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