This Biodynamic Wine is a Summer Pleaser + Saturday Culinary Concoction #Winophiles

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!

Demeter Expanding

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.

                                         The initial ingredients and final topping: Rhubarb Red Onion Relish.

Opening Cigalus Blanc 2018

                                        Disclaimer: media sample, thoughts & opinions are my own.

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.

Cabillaud (cod) with rhubarb and red onion relish was an excellent pairing with Cigalus Blanc. I served this with broccoli and cipollini, and an oyster mushroom and English pea saute.

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”

Here at Savor the Harvest: “This Biodynamic Wine Is a Summer Pleaser + Saturday Culinary Concoction.

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”

Pinny Tam – Chinese Food and Wine Pairings: “Exploring Languedoc-Roussillon with Chateau Millegrand Minervois Mourral Grand Reserve + Chinese Charcuterie Board #Winophiles

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”

Payal Vora, Keep the Peas: “Aude: Alive in More Ways Than Wine”


35 thoughts on “This Biodynamic Wine is a Summer Pleaser + Saturday Culinary Concoction #Winophiles

  1. Allison Wallace

    Great article Lynn…we’re coming across such varied opinions when it comes to biodynamic wines. Certainly a very hot topic these days. I’ll be interested to hear more on his foundation. And that meal you put together looks oh so good (love the blend of the wine). I found a bottle of Bertrand back east (travelling right now) and will be giving it a try!

    1. Lynn Post author

      We too have varied experiences with biodynamic wines but it seems as it becomes more popular there is more help/support for converting and farming this way. Look forward to hearing how you liked the wine Allison!

  2. Lauren Walsh

    What a beautiful relish! Love the color and combination of flavors which, I’m sure, were a nice accent to the fish. I’ve tasted the Cigalus Blanc and wish I had another bottle so that I could try it with this recipe.

    1. Lynn Post author

      Thank you, it was a winner and I’ll be picking up more rhubarb to make and freeze more relish this weekend.
      The wine was a nice surprise, the first Bertrand wine I’ve tasted. Hope another bottle makes it to you!

  3. Robin Bell Renken

    So exciting to see your completed dish! You have been teasing us this week, showing these beautiful ingredients on social media. The dish looks delicious.
    I am so happy that so much discussion is happening on biodynamics. Across so many regions the care for the planet and the soil, the biodiversity in the vineyard, is becoming more important. I do believe that this greater care creates better wines. Like everything you get out, what you put in.

    1. Lynn Post author

      I had fun with the dish this week. There was another dish too but that rhubarb red onion sauce was definitely a winner. On the biodynamic discussion, couldn’t agree with you more. It can be a tough call, especially for smaller producers who could loose everything if they loose their vines to an ailment.

    1. Lynn Post author

      The best thing Lori, it is super easy to make, freezes well, and has many uses!

  4. Deanna

    How lovely to be able to pop into the farmer’s market in Bordeaux! I do love rhubarb but haven’t tried it on fish. The relish looks so pretty on top of the fish and a nice change up from lemons. Beautiful pairing!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Rhubarb is not your normal suspect but here it worked well. So well in fact I’m making more this weekend.Thanks for your comment Deanna!

  5. Pinny Tam

    Look like this Cigalus is really amazing. Love the “farm to table” picture” in your post – rhubarb, young garlic, so fresh! Learnt a new fish name Cabillaud too. Great post!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Thanks Pinny, I’m betting you have some great recipes for Cabillaud, aka, Cod?!?

  6. John

    Looks, sounds, and feels like a winner for summer outtings. The varietal combination is soooo inviting. And your pix does this essay justice. Heading to my local fish guy today – wish I could pair it with Cigalus!

    1. Lynn Post author

      I’m betting you can find a bottle of Cigalus John, good luck and thank you for your kind comment!

  7. Liz Barrett

    I am positively inspired by your rhubarb-red onion relish, Lyn! With fish – I never would’ve thought. Totally trying it! A vote santé!

    1. Lynn Post author

      It is REALLY GOOD if I don’t say so myself! Perhaps I’ll post a recipe as it is good with many foods and wines, and we know how the #winophiles love food and wine!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Rhubarb is a strange one. I’ve made jams with it for a while then started making savory renditions of things with it. I know you like to cook, hope you’re able to find some and if yes, please do share!

  8. Jeff

    I love those “wander the farmers market” days, they have arrived for the spring here in MN too. I hope your dish was as delicious as it was beautiful!

    1. Lynn Post author

      I could spend hours wandering farmer and other markets. Problem is I have to watch myself or I’ll come home with way more food items that I have time to process. The dish was fantastic- simple yet deep flavors!

  9. Linda

    So impressed by your creativity! Rhubarb and strawberry are indeed a winning combination. My mouth waters reading this post and imagining a swallow of that beautiful Biodynamic wine as a chaser to the cod and relish. Nicely done!

  10. Jane

    I am a huge fan of farmers markets, however, I have not seen rhubarb at the Georgia markets. Your pairing with cod & relish sounds and looks delicious! I do wish I had another bottle of Cigalus Blanc to try out your pairing?

    1. Lynn Post author

      Rhubard is not something you find everyday. It’s plentiful in northern California, luckily and I’ve seen it grow wild. Hope you’re able to find some. It is very versatile!

  11. Nicole Ruiz Hudson

    Despite reading the book (although I’m still in the middle), I hadn’t come across the info on Origine Nature — good to know! The pairing looks beautiful and the fish dish just screams springtime!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Ahhh, the book. I’d like to read it. Thanks for your kind words on the pairing, spring indeed!

  12. Michelle

    I want to wander in the market with you. What great discoveries. You pairing sounds perfect.

  13. Christopher Wallace

    The meal you prepared looks and sounds delicious! This is the first time I have heard of a Viognier/Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc blend. It would be interesting to know M. Bertrand’s thinking behind that combination. At the price point, it was certainly not a collection of left-overs. The inclusion of the Sauvignon seems like the outlier to me. Perhaps it was there to add more structure to the blend? Interesting and enjoyable read (although the food pictures and descriptions made me hungry and lead to unnecessary snacking…)

    1. Lynn Post author

      It would be interesting to know why this particular mix of grapes was selected. My thought is like yours, for the structure, and perhaps freshness. I understand he’s wanting this to be one of the great wines of France, thus the price point. And it was certainly a nice wine. Glad the food photos caught your eye. Snacking… it could be worse!


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