Cooking to the Wine: Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache-Syrah-Carignan with Saucy Lamb Loin Chops (#Winophiles)

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache-Syrah-Carignan with Saucy Lamb Loin Chops


Several years ago now, when I  was still living in New York and working at Wine Spectator, I had the great pleasure of attending a media event at which I had the chance to meet Gérard Bertrand. 

Me with Gérard Bertrand along with my friends/ex-coworkers Gillian Sciaretta and Emma Balter, circa March, 2015..

He was very charming, quite handsome, and had calm aura about him. He’s also very, very tall. More importantly, it was also very clear that he was also quite passionate and driven about his wines and the care of the land his vineyards are on. He had just released his book Wine, Moon, and Stars, and I was gifted a signed copy as a guest of the event. 






I’ve kept it since, always intending to read it — there were cross-country moves, work, life, blah, blah, blah. When the Winophiles blogging group dedicated this month to Gérard Bertrand’s wines, I decided it was the perfect time to grab the book off the shelf.

In the book, Bertrand takes you through his early years when he had the chance to grow up amongst the vines and learn from his father Georges. He goes onto to describe his time as a rugby player, eventually coming back to run the family vineyards whole-heartedly. He ultimately made the decision to convert his operation to biodynamics (we’ve talked a lot about biodynamics lately, see this post for an explanation), as he quickly saw a big difference amongst the vines grown in this way. All of his estates in Languedoc-Roussillon (now a part of the Occitanie) are now farmed using biodynamic practices (some might still be in transition toward certification). This is no small feat — Bertrand’s is a large operation.
According to this article in Forbes, he’s now the second largest importer of French wine into the U.S.  I think this is a case of a bigger producer who is trying to do things right.

Admittedly, the writing meanders a bit, but the passion for the lands, the wine, and a general joie de viviré really come through in the pages. It’s clear he finds something deeper in a beautiful wine beyond it just being an enjoyable beverage:

Sometimes, the great flux of emotions leads to a mystical experience. You don’t need faith to get there, but it certainly helps. If you reach the message, you will experience the inner peace, serenity, love, and harmony. You are ready to commune with the spirit of the wine, to understand its very essence. Inevitably it takes time and practice to do this, along with a certain level of knowledge. But the most important thing is the capacity to be delighted. (p. 83)

Definitely lofty, but I must say that I’ve had a few experiences like this where a wine has moved me on this deeper transcendent level and it is special. I also have to admit that studying wine has helped me to better appreciate it. However,  I love that he boils it down to delight as the most important factor. In the end all you really need is to want to be delighted and be open to it. If you are, delight can happen everyday.


Gerard Bertrand Clos d'Ora in front of several of his other bottlings.
A few of the beautiful, higher end Gérard Bertrand wines I got to try at the event, including the Clos d'Ora which is among his top end wines. This wine is a  blends of Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache.
The Aigle Royal Pinot  Noir comes from the Haute Vallée de l'Aude winemaking region, which ranges between 250 and 500 metresabove sea leve. Pinot, which isn't a typical grape for this area, is grown at the highest reaches of the estate.

 

THE WINE & PAIRING


On that note, let’s move on to the delights of eating and drinking. Bertrand makes it very clear that he values the combination of the two together:

As a true lover of food and wine, I love matching one with the other, particularly through studying recipes. The interaction of the two needs to be total, one building on the other through osmosis to create a symphony. (p. 81)

I couldn’t agree more! This interaction is what keeps me going!





On this occasion, Greg and I opened a bottle of Gérard Bertrand Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Grand Terroir 2015. Bertrand says Tautavel has a “special power.” It’s is in the hilly, northern portion of Roussillon, situated between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean sea. He says:

Tautavel is a wonderful terroir that is translated through the grenache noir, carignan and syrah that grow upon it. It is the very paucity of these soils that is the source of its power. Meager schist aboundsand forces the roots of the vines to reach down deep into the earth. It is in the balance between that which is visible–the plant, the leaves, the fruit–and that which is invisible–it’s deep root system burrowing down through the rocks in the hunt for the slightest hint of water–that the vine finds its best expression. (p. 177)

Quick tangent: The region also has a claim to fame beyond wine. Starting in 1961, over 120 human fossils were discovered in the Arago Cave. These turned out to be from between 690,000 and 300,000 years old. This lead to one of the oldest examples of homo erectus, known as Tautavel Man, thought to be 450,000 years old.

Back to the wine, on the day we opened it, the wine showed notes of raspberry and herbs, mostly garrigue with a hint of menthol on the nose. On the palate, the raspberries were ripe, with black currants, and blackberry. The garrigue came back, with some notes of rosemary, and black pepper on the finish. Greg also got hints of sage and licorice. There was also notes of pencil lead, violets, and spice that became more integrated with air and the quality of the fruit was very pure. It had medium acidity that was nonetheless pretty fresh, and had chalky tannins.

The wine was polished and classic. We decided to keep the pairing pretty classic as well: seared lamb chop loins seasoned with herbs and black pepper to resonate with these notes in the wine. A simple gravy topped things off. As accompaniment, I made Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains prepared with lamb stock. The final component was roasted zucchini prepared simply tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and some simple seasoning in the oven at 425°F for about 25 minutes.




Lamb loin chops in a pan, being prepped, with herbs and garlic.


The wine and lamb made a beautiful pair. Greg noted that the spice notes in the wine came out more with the food. The wine really highlighted the lamb meat as well as the black pepper and rosemary notes in both the food and the wine.


Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache-Syrah-Carignan with Saucy Lamb Loin Chops.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES


On their website, they recommend serving this wine with grilled peppers, pork with
caramel sauce, rabbit with prune or matured cheeses.

Once upon a time, I paired Gérard Bertrand’s Fitou in an 8 & $20 for WineSpectator.com with Lamb Kebabs and an Israeli Couscous Salad. I’m sure this wine would make a great pairing as well. I also featured a Bertrand wine in 16 French Wine Values.

For other wine options, pick medium to full bodied reds with herbal notes. 


For more red wines from Languedoc-Roussillon and ideas on how to pair them, check out: 
Kicking Off 2018 with Corbières and Minervois 

 

THE GEEKY DETAILS


Taken from the tech sheet.

GRAPE VARIETIES: Grenache, Syrah and Carignan

WINEMAKER’S NOTES: 
Most of the grapes are picked by hand. They are sorted twice, on the
vine and then in the winery.
Vinification is traditional and the grapes are de‐stemmed prior to
maceration, which lasts between three and four weeks. Pressing is then
carried out, followed by malolactic fermentation.
33% of the wine is matured in barrels for 9 months, with the rest left in
vats.


Alch: 15%



MONEY TALK


I’ve always appreciated that Gérard Bertrand wines tend to provide good price to quality ratio, regardless of price point – I buy them somewhat regularly for this reason. This one is definitely fits right into this description. At $16.99 (purchased on Wine.com), this wine is definitely an Overachiever.





Yield: 6
Author:

Seared Herbed Lamb Loin Chops with Gravy

prep time: 35 Mcook time: 40 Mtotal time: 75 M

ingredients:

  • 6 lamb loin chops
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more of cooking
  • several sprigs thyme
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary, picked and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 quart lamb or beef stock, warmed
  • Salt
  • Pepper

instructions:

How to cook Seared Herbed Lamb Loin Chops with Gravy

  1. Place the lamb loin chops in a dish and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Mix together the garlic, olive oil, a few thyme sprigs, and about half the rosemary. Pour the mixture over the lamb loin chops and rub into the meat to coat well. Cover and let the chops marinate for about an hour to overnight. (Note: If marinating for a hour or less, you can leave them out, as you’ll want them to come up to room temperature anyways. If marinating for longer, remember to pull them out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before you intend to cook them.)
  2. Make a roux by melting the butter in pot over medium heat, then combine it with the flour and stir until well combined. Keep stirring regularly and allow the roux to cook for about 6 or 7 minutes, until it’s turned brown and starting to smell a bit nutty. Stir in the majority of the stock (reserving a little bit on the side) a generous pinch of salt and pepper, raise the temperature to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add in a couple of sprigs of thyme and a sprig of rosemary. Allow it to keep cooking at a simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of spoon. Keep warm..
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the lamb loin chops in the pan, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook until the chops reach about 130°F, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate and allow them to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  4. While the chops rest, deglaze the pan with the reserved stock, making sure to scrape up any brown bits. Stir this into the sauce. Remove the sprigs of herbs from the sauce, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve the chops topped with the sauce.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel Grenache-Syrah-Carignan with Saucy Lamb Loin Chops.

*****

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12 comments

  1. Love how you quoted from the book to explain the Gérard Bertrand wines you have tasted and the footprint he has in Languedoc. I'd like to meet him personally one day as he is a legend but also seems to be a down-to-earth guy too!

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    1. I only met him the one time, but he gave off a really nice vibe. Thanks so much Pinny.

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  2. Those lamb chops look like they're so perfectly cooked with that lovely golden brown crust! I almost forgot about all the great information you shared about Monsieur Bertrand. I learned so much, and I love that you met him too! The food pairing does seem like just the kind of meal you might eat in the south of France. Lovely post!

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    1. Thanks so much Deanna! I have to admit I wouldn't mind just transporting over to the south of France now. :-)

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  3. I do want to read this book and learn more about this man and his philosophy.

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    1. It goes in nicely into the different terroirs to describe what make each one special as well. Thanks Wendy.

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  4. Lamb with rosemary and a southern France wine with that garrique aroma is pretty much heaven for me. Yours looks great!

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  5. What a great memory of meeting Gérard Bertrand. The quotes from his book sold me, I need to get a copy. Very nice classic pairing of lamb chops with the Tautavel.

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  6. I'm with you and Bertrand, studying recipes to come up with great food and wine pairings is both fun and results in memorable meals. Glad you got to read the book! So many #winophiles mentioned it I'll see if I can get an electronic version. Better yet, perhaps I'll just get myself to Domaine de Cigalus and meet him! Thanks for a great article and recipe ;-D

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    1. Oooh, making it down to the domaine would be fun! You should go for their jazz festival!

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Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!