Gerard Bertrand: Domaine de L’Aigle

23 06 2020

By Peter Vetsch

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

The South of France is paradise, for vines and tourists alike.  Consistent weather, tons of heat and sunshine, yet just enough reprieve thanks to surrounding bodies of water — it’s the recipe for both stress-free ripening and a highly satisfying vacation.  Because of these climatic blessings, the growing areas around the Languedoc-Roussillon can successfully cultivate almost any grape you can think of, which helps its ability to generate value-priced reasonable facsimiles of varieties grown at enhanced pedigree and cost elsewhere.  This flexibility may come at a cost, however, hindering the area’s ability to carve out its own identity, one not tethered to other regions’ preconceived notions.  Languedoc luminary Gerard Bertrand has above all sought to let his home region’s soils sing loud and clear, and over the years he has cultivated an impressive array of vineyards and standalone estates that aim to do just that.  It is somewhat ironic, then, that one of his most compelling recent acquisitions is a place that doubles as a convincing stand-in for what I would have told you was the least possible French region to reflect in the deep South:  Burgundy.


I should be careful to clarify:  Domaine de L’Aigle is nobody’s copycat.  Located at the northern peak of the Limoux appellation, which itself is slightly inland of the Mediterranean Sea and just south of famed fortified board-game city Carcassonne, the Domaine is situated at the foot of the Roquetaillade cliff, always the home of numerous nesting eagles (hence the winery name).  The combination of the highest altitude in the region and the cooling air coming down off the adjacent Pyranees mountain range makes average temperatures here 2-3 degrees Celsius lower than its neighbours in the Languedoc, resulting in substantially more rainfall and a massive drop in temperatures overnight.  In this one specific spot — which was France’s first home of sparking wine, by the way, back in 1531, before Dom Perignon figured out bubbles in Champagne — the climate is sufficiently moderate and bracing that the Burgundian duo of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay excel.  The focus of Domaine de L’Aigle is to explore these northern French varieties (as well as a little Gewurz, in a nod to even-more-northerly Alsace) as translated by the Languedoc’s terroir.  Gerard Bertrand acquired the Domaine in 2007, and it is now one of 16 biodynamic estates under the Bertrand umbrella, joining the previously reviewed Domaine de Villemajou and Chateau la Sauvageonne.  Bertrand’s focus is eternally on clearly transmitting the voice of the South; let’s see how it speaks through the grapes of the North. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2014 Bila-Haut Rose

13 07 2015

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

Winning producer, winning value.  And look at that colour!

Winning producer, winning value. And look at that colour!

I just got back on the weekend from a sunny California vacation, and as I was coming from hot, humid San Diego into hot, dry Calgary (this was pre-torrential thunderstorms) after the end of a long travel day with two young children, I had my first ever legit rose craving.  Don’t get me wrong:  I like rose just fine, but until this moment I had always been on the “perfectly happy to drink it” side of the fence as opposed to the “insatiable desire for it” side.  But something about that day made me long for a bottle that was crisp and cool yet fruity and substantial, a summer wine niche that rose fits to the tee.  Almost immediately after dropping off the suitcases I went to my neighbourhood liquor store, browsed their abysmal pre-chilled rose selection, and escaped with the one non-White Zinfandel bottle I could find:  a Michel Chapoutier rose called Beaurevoir (pictured below) from pink wine’s spiritual homeland of Tavel in south-eastern France.  After downing it probably more quickly than I should have, I realized that I had another Chapoutier rose in my cellar and promised that I would take my time with this one.  Consider this a kick-off for what looks to be a busy Pop & Pour summer! Read the rest of this entry »

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