Corbières GSM

Prominently displaying the dramatic Visigoth symbol dating to the 7th century, later referred to as the Languedoc Cross or Cross of the Cathars, this vintner’s apt bottle emblem also incorporates 2 white doves drinking from a single cup; representing the traditions of sharing and spiritual communion. Begun by father Georges Bertrand, a winemaking pioneer in Languedoc who worked diligently to foster a spirit of cooperation between local growers in the 1970’s, this family has consistently been at the forefront of quality development for a broad range of well-suited grape varieties, yielding a host of regionally distinctive wine styles. As of 1992, the inherited philosophies/vision continue to evolve under the dynamic stewardship of the founder’s son, Gérard Bertrand, who also provides the highly recognizable namesake for a burgeoning portfolio of vineyard estates and their related sub-brands. As an avowed champion of L’Art de Vivre, which
celebrates the local foods, wine, and Mediterranean culture of southern France, the Bertrand Winery has based their production facilities in the regional center of Narbonne and are impressively now exporting to 70 countries, worldwide!

corbieres-map

The South of France is playfully described as a European wine lake, containing 40% of the country’s vineyards. The process of replacing traditional high-yielding grapes with lower yielding varieties, to produce smaller quantities of premium wine, continues. What also carries forward, is that the wine being offered by Languedoc-Roussillon vintners remains comparatively inexpensive and a benchmark of outstanding value. Taking a pride-of-place among recent examples, this DéClassé feature of Gérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières certainly delivers on the expected rich, fruit-forward character that’s typical of the source region, while also being marketed at a delightfully discounted rate of $16.95 – down several dollars from the last recommended vintage in 2014.

This bottle’s blending of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre marks some of the traditional output from a rugged landscape where no other commercial crops thrive except for grapevine. Having achieved an AOP classification in 1985, the terroirs that collectively define the Corbières sub-region are framed between the foothills of the Pyrenees to the southwest and Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) further north. In a variable mix of geology and microclimates, stressed by the wind, heat and poor organic soil, the surprising conduciveness of this land for grapes is demonstrated, near harvest time, like a rippling sea of lush green vine leaves crowning the plump clusters of fruit. White Limestone outcrops, spiky Garrigue (wild herb-like bushes), lines of Cypress tree windbreaks and sunbaked Terra Cotta tile-capped stone houses complete the characterful portrait of Corbières.

As with the free-spirited land, wine producing regulations are less stringent thaN in the neighbouring Burgundy or Bordeaux regions, allowing for a broader range of cultivation practices, permissible grape varieties, and blending proportions. The best Corbières wines can now claim a unique standing among other long-established appellations, and though you’ll find this prolific winery on the regular LCBO shelves, this limited release is only in the Vintages section — emblazoned with a remarkably modest sticker price!

Corbieres

GÉRARD BERTRAND TERROIR CORBIERES 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #394288 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Roussillon, France
By: Gérard Bertrand
Release Date: August 20, 2016

Tasting Note
As a blend of 3 fulsome grape varieties that have evidently reached full maturity before harvest, this is a herb-tinged, fruity wine style that’s best for heartier food fare such as stuffed peppers, meatballs in a spicy tomato and olive sauce, grilled meats. Or if slightly chilled, as an apéritif alongside ripe cheeses.

Syrah Alert

The central Atacama Desert is distinctively known to climatologists as the driest,
non-polar geography on Earth; desolate and desiccated to such extremes that
it’s biologically sterile, with some zones having never recorded any measurable
rainfall–ever. Here in the northern 3rd of Chile, to an unpractised outside eye, the
cultivating of fruit at the outer fringe of an expanding desertification seems likely
to be a futile exercise? Undaunted, the imaginative and resourceful Chileans are
applying their ancient understanding of the land while also employing innovative
and sustainable techniques such as drip irrigation–to excel in the face of these
challenges. Also blessed with a relatively pest-free environment, they’re naturally
exercising less-invasive, organic and biodynamic farming practices; both healthy
and more economical in terms of production costs. The sum of this viticulture
intelligence is imparting a discernibly fresh character into their premium wines,
while also compellingly demonstrating Chile’s new age, winemaking leadership;
now becoming an additional, largely unrivalled and fruitful export of expertise!

Just southwest of this hostile territory, the Limarí Valley stretches east to west
from the Andean foothills across to the Pacific shore. Open at the seaward end,
the valley acts as a funnel for the low-lying, billowing coastal fog named Garúa or
Camanchaca by the indigenous Aymara and Atacama Indians. In having passed
on the long understood benefits of this climate dynamic, modern descendants
continue to explore and exploit its magical properties both as air-borne irrigation
and air conditioning. Softly blanketing the vine stock with precious moisture each
morning, the fog then gives way to an equally significant cooling breeze later in
the day; providing some critical respite in an otherwise hot, semi-arid landscape;
emerging as one of the most promising of Chilean terroirs.

The growing of vines is not new to Limarí agriculture as some of these vineyards
were established in the mid-16th century; roughly corresponding with the arrival
of Spanish Conquistadors. In more recent ages, the majority of plantings here
are destined to produce table grapes or lesser grades of wine grape suitable for
the distilling of Chile’s trademark brandy, Pisco, also generically referred to as aguardiente (firewater). A quarter century or so on from the introduction in the
1990’s of Noble varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and
Syrah, this maturing vine stock coupled with the savvy of wine makers like the
much heralded Felipe Müller, is now yielding world-class, varietal wine in a range
of accessible price points.

For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Tabali Reserva Syrah 2012,
the fruit is sourced from an alluvial terrace of clay, chalk and limestone silt lying
adjacent to the Limarí River; acting as a conduit for mineral-rich meltwater that
flows downslope from the Andes Mountains. This intriguing and substantial wine
has an appealing balance of tannin structure and softness; helped by a yearlong
maturing in second-use, French oak barrels. This will cellar for some time, but if
you prefer red wines with an acidic brightness—then start drinking immediately!

Tabali

TABALI RESERVA SYRAH 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #662692 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
14% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Limari Valley, Chile
By: Vina Tabali
Release Date: October 3, 2015

Tasting Note
This fairly rounded Syrah gives off dark fruit aromas, juicy cherry and black plum
flavours with expected pepper and bitter chocolate notes that define the grape.
Try with roast lamb, braised short rib in leeks or bacon-wrapped tornadoes.

Corbières Alert

Proudly displaying the dramatic cross of the Visigoths dating to the 7th century,
later known as the Languedoc Cross or Cross of the Cathars, this vintner’s
very apt emblem also includes 2 doves drinking from a single cup – symbolizing
both sharing and communion. Begun by father Georges, a winemaking pioneer
in the Languedoc region who worked diligently to foster a spirit of cooperation
by local growers in the 1970’s, this benchmark winery has consistently been
at the forefront of quality development for an impressive range of regionally
distinctive wine styles. The multi-generational philosophy is being carried forward
by the founder’s son. Namesake of the current, burgeoning portfolio of vineyards,
Gérard Bertrand, now has its primary facilities based in Narbonne.

The Corbières terroir stretches from the base of the Pyrenees in the southwest
to Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) further north. A kaleidoscope of geology
and complex climates, the combinations serve to produce outstanding vines and
resulting, herb-scented wines. The prolific region was granted their official AOC
classification in 1985. The soils here consist of gravely clay and limestone with a
surface cover of stone pebbles, providing good drainage and healthy root stock.
The South of France, as a whole, is playfully described as a European wine lake,
containing 40% of France’s total vineyard acreage. The process of replacing
traditional, high-yielding grape varieties with lower yielding varieties to produce
smaller quantities of better wine, continues. What also carries forward, is that
they remain comparatively inexpensive and outstanding value.

A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is the traditional output from an
arid landscape where no crop thrives except vines. Often counter-intuitive, the
most challenging terroirs yield the most interesting wine. Grapevines do well by
beingstressed. Here, they are stressed by wind, heat and poor organic soil. The
odd appropriateness of this land is manifest by creating a rippling sea of lush
green leaves. Stony white Limestone outcrops, tough, spiky Garrigue (herb-like
bushes), lines of Cyprus tree windbreaks and Terracotta covered stonework
houses, completes the complex picture.

The best Corbières wines can now hold their own with classic French vintages
of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Though you will find many bottlings from this prolific
vintner on the regular LCBO shelves, note that this limited release is only found
in the Vintages section and represents a value well above the sticker price!

Corbieres

GÉRARD BERTRAND CORBIERES 2011
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #394288 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 18.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Roussillon, France
By: Gerard Bertrand
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2014

Tasting Note
This is a firm and spicy wine style that is best enjoyed with foods such as stuffed
peppers, meatballs in spiced tomato and olive sauce, grilled meats of all sorts
and ripe cheeses.