I recently acquainted myself with Domaine de Cigalus located within the Languedoc Corbières area in southern France. This is where Gérard Bertrand built a biodynamic wine empire and owns several wineries. He is a proponent of the Languedoc region and lives there at the Domaine where biodynamic agriculture started for him in 2002.
Although this 6’5” man makes both red and white wines at the Domaine, the focus of this article is Cigalus Blanc, a blend of Chardonnay, Vigonier and Sauvignon Blanc.
I owe receiving the sample bottle and learning about Bertrand and his wines to our #Winophiles guide this month, Lyn Archer. Scroll down for a list of participating wine writers and their article links!
Most of the 920 hectares (2,200 acres) Bertrand owns in the south of France are farmed biodynamically and are Demeter certified.
Just what is Demeter? I found Wikipedia to have a great explanation:
“Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture similar to organic farming… It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives…. Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants.”
The international ‘Demeter standard’ is much more extensive than organic. It looks to sources from within the agricultural property or farm for disease, pest, and weed control solutions, and has in-depth specifications around water conservation and biodiversity. All Bertrand vineyards will be Demeter certified by 2020.
For those who want a deeper dig, wine expert Jamie Goode has an excellent, ten-part article on biodynamics.
The Rise of Origine Nature
So dedicated to biodynamic principles, Bertrand is currently building a foundation called Origine Nature – the Gérard Bertrand vineyard foundation. The launch is scheduled for 2020. Its purpose is to support biodiversity and share expertise and knowledge on organic and biodynamic grape growing.
Food, Wine and Grazing at the Market
Knowing I would open Cigalus Blanc, I headed to a main farmers market in Bordeaux. Often times I wander the aisles in a grazing mode of sorts, looking for what’s fresh, in season, and what catches my eye. I settled on Cabillaud, a type of Cod, the most popular white fish in France.
Next I spotted rhubarb. I’ve combined it with strawberry to make rhubarb jam several times but was thinking a savory topping. Red onions came into focus and my mind took off concocting an idea.
Opening Cigalus Blanc 2018
A blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc, 70% of the juice goes into new French oak barrels with the remainder in stainless steel vats; all of it undergoes malolactic fermentation. After eight months of aging on lees with regular stirring, battonage in French, it’s bottled in spring at the equinox. I poured two glasses and let it sit five minutes. These are my tasting notes:
- Color: pale gold
- Aromas: White blossoms, white peach, and lemon cream that became more pronounced as the wine warmed.
- Palate: Medium bodied (a feeling in the mouth between 2% and whole milk), the first flavor is lemon, which opens to white peach, golden apple and lemon crème in pastry crust with a slight bitterness. All of the components are balanced with just enough acidity and a lingering finish.
- 14% abv | $45 to $50 (€38 to €45)
Domaine de Cigalus is in the Corbières appellation however wines are bottled as IGP Aude-Hauterive.
Pan-seared Cabillaud with Rhubarb Red Onion Relish and Pomegranate Seeds
The wine pairing was spot-on! Cabillaud is a medium-weight, fairly lean fish. I purchased the tenderloin, a thicker and denser piece. Pan-searing it over medium-high heat gave the fish a certain sweetness. And I caramelized the onions before adding the rhubarb; this brings out their sweetness, which is balanced by the tangy rhubarb and a little sugar. The result? A tangy yet rich relish where the acid and richness of the wine played off the flavors of the fish and relish.
French #Winophiles Talk Bertrand and Biodyamics
This group of wine writers celebrates France every month and May is about Gérard Bertrand wines. We convene on Twitter 18-May at 8 a.m. pacific / 17:00 in France using the hashtag #winophiles. Anyone is welcome to follow but we hope you’ll join us. Many people have different wines so I encourage peeking at the articles. You are sure to find drool worthy recipes too!
Michelle Williams – Rockin Red Blog: “Celebrating Biodynamic Viticulture And The Beauty Of The Languedoc With Gérard Bertrand #Winophiles”
Wendy Klik- A Day in the Life on a Farm : ” New Wine Paired with an Old Favorite.”
Camilla Mann – Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Lemon-Caper Halibut + Gérard Bertrand 2018 Cigalus Blanc”
Linda Whipple, My Full Wine Glass : “Languedoc Wine Meets Lebanese Cuisine”
David Crowley – Cooking Chat: “Savoring a Special White Wine from Souther France”
Robin Bell Renken – Crushed Grape Chronicles, “Exploring the Grand Terroir of Gérard Bertrand with Tautavel and La Clape“
Jeff Burrows – Food, Wine, Click: “Butter Roasted Fish with Gérard Bertrand’s Cigalus Blanc”
Jane Niemeyer – Always Ravenous: “Chicken Korma with Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Blanc”
Cindy Lowe Rynning – Grape Experiences: “The Wines of Gerard Bertrand: Expect Joie de Vivre with Every Sip”
Susannah Gold – Avvinare: “A Wine from Gerard Bertrand: A Larger than Life Figure”
Deanna Kang – Asian Test Kitchen: “Gerard Bertrand Rose Paired with Subtly Spiced Shrimp”
Cynthia Howson & Pierre Ly – Traveling Wine Profs: “Comfort Food and Sunny Red: Gérard Bertrand Côtes des Roses with Senegalese Mafé and Fonio”
Jill Barth – L’Occasion: “A Name To Know: Gérard Bertrand”
Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley – Wine Predator: ”Bertrand’s Biodynamic Cigalus Paired with French Sausage”
Liz Barrett – What’s in that Bottle: “Get to Know the Winning Wines from Languedoc Icon Gérard Bertrand”
Nicole Ruiz Hudson – SommsTable: “Cooking to the Wine: Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache-Syrah-Carignan with Saucy Lamb Loin Chops”
Rupal Desai Shankar – Syrah Queen: “A Commitment To Languedoc – The Biodynamic Wines Of Gerard Bertrand”