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Gerard Bertrand Wines – Photo by Roger Paige

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Food, Wine and Travel Writer it says on my business card.  However, I – happily in the throes of the coupon-clipping carpool years – confess that my travels tend to be within hundreds of miles from home, rather than thousands. In my dreams I travel the world, and my true traveler friends and colleagues help take me there with their tales of far off countries and cultures.

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The Occasional Wine Council – Carmen Micheli, Susan Montgomery, Laura Plant, Corie Maue, Tom Plant, Roger Paige, Linda Kissam, Ken Barnes, Ginger Giorgano – Photo by Roger Paige

On occasion, one of my travel writer friends returns with an artifact of their journey – wine to share with those of us who remain behind.  On a recent Saturday afternoon in Temecula, CA, a group of writer friends – dubbed “The Occasional Wine Council” by world travel diva, Linda Kissam – gathered to share and review the wines of Gérard Bertrand.  The stories and wine took us to the South of France, which I imagine as rolling hills and vineyards that stretch for miles, graced by warm sunshine and elegant Châteaux.

 

No matter how near or far you are from the vineyard, sharing wine with friends pays homage to the time, effort and love that the winemaker invests in every bottle.  The Occasional Wine Council paid our respects with gusto and gratitude.  The wines are indeed special, invoking images of the South of France where “Art de Vivre,” the art of life, is celebrated.   Gérard Bertrand is committed to making exceptional wines at a a great value, so you will be able to enjoy his wines (available at BevMo or online) without straining your budget. Here are my tasting notes from the evening:

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2010 Cremant de Limoux Brut ($15 SRP) – Chardonnay 70%, Mauzac 10%, Chenin Blanc 20%.  This wine is started in stainless barrels and then finished following the requirements of Méthode Champenoise, producing tiny, elegant bubbles and an enticing pale straw color.  Fruit and floral aromas open into slight butter and hazelnut on the palate.  This wine has a perfect balance of acidity and creaminess, with a crisp herbal finish – looks special and tastes special.  Paired with Salmon and Caviar Flatbread, it is an elegant start to any evening.

 

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Salmon & Caviar Flatbread – Photo by Corie Maue

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2011 Muscato 10° ($14 SRP) – 100% Muscat.  The South of France is known for Muscat, and Gérard Bertrand offers up a complex blend of Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Petit from old vines with low yields, resulting in premium quality.  Harvested at the beginning of August and fermented at low temperatures, this wine has a slight effervescence, lovely pale yellow color and intense floral aroma complimented by exotic fruits.  Flavors of mandarine, and even mandaquat, make this a perfect pairing for melon with prosciutto or Stilton with dried apricots.

 

2010 Gris Blanc ($12 SRP) – 100% Grenache Gris.  Hand harvested and immediately pressed, then finished in stainless steel, this Rose has a distinctive, clear crystalline color with a fresh, mineral palate.  Its crisp style makes it an excellent pairing for oysters on the half shell or – surprise match discovered by the OWC – chocolate & caramel turtles (found atBaron’s Market).

 

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Gerard Bertrand – Chateau l’Hospitalet – Courtesy Photo

2010 Cigalus Vin Pays d’Oc ($36) – Chardonnay 80%, Viognier 15%, Sauvignon Blanc 5%.  Although offered at a slightly higher price point, this enchanting white earned a resounding first place spot at our tasting.  The honor is well earned as the harvesting of each varietal and complex fermentation process results in a spectacularly opulent Chardonnay to please any palate.  Enticing aromas of citrus, white flowers and stone fruit envelope and then give way to tropical fruits with hints of vanilla and light toasty oak on the palate.  Lush and smooth, this white has a long, fresh finish that will bring you back for more.  It paired perfectly with a creamy shrimp risotto as well as our favorite bite of the evening Delice de la Bourgogne cheese (found at Trader Joe’s) on rice cracker.

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Delice de la Bourgogne Cheese – Photo by Roger Paige

 

2007 Tautavel ($15 SRP) – 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Carignan.  Grapes are harvested manually and each varietal is vinified separately before blending, resulting in the best qualities of each being represented in this wine.  Rich plum color and ripe blackberries and spice on the nose deliver rich fruit and delicate spice on the palate with a long, pleasantly sweet finish.  A Rhone style wine, this red paired beautifully with Ratatouille.

 

2007 Banyuls ($15 SRP) – Dominated by Grenache, this sweetheart of a dessert wine was a hit with our group.  The sunbaked, terraced vineyards of the Banyuls region produce some of the most unique sweet wines, and Gérard Bertrand offers up a lushly complex rendition.  Anticipate a touch of tobacco with raspberry jam fruit and a bit of fire on the finish.  The winemaker suggests chocolate as a pairing, but our group would recommend pouring it over premium vanilla bean ice cream for a luxurious treat.

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Banyuls with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – Photo by Corie Maue

Swirl and sip, surrounded by friends, and share a toast to the beauty and artistry of the South of France and to those who produce these exceptional wines.

Author Bio:

After working in all aspects of the food and beverage industry for 20 years, Corie has developed an adventuresome spirit and palate.  As an avid home cook and a member of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, she keeps an eye out for new trends in food, wine and travel so she can share her discoveries with her readers. In addition to her own Blog, www.LifeHalfFull.co (Balanced Living in a Slightly Off-Kilter World), she is a freelance writer, contributing food, wine and news articles to several on line and print publications.