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Gérard Bertrand Leads The Way In Languedoc

April 2, 2018

With French still wine exports to the U.S. rising 14% to 12.5 million cases and 18% to $1.4 billion last year, the Languedoc-Roussillon region has emerged as a growth driver. Languedoc-Roussillon shipments to the U.S. surged 26% to 746,000 cases last year, and have roughly tripled since 2010. Leading the way in the category is Gérard Bertrand, whose namesake label accounts for nearly half of Languedoc-Roussillon’s U.S. volume.

Bolstered by the rosé boom, the Gérard Bertrand brand enjoyed substantial growth in 2017, depleting 350,000 cases on a rise of 46%. That strong progress earned it Impact “Hot Brand” honors and illustrated the growing impact of its founder’s work as the unofficial ambassador of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. “I associate my brand with the Languedoc,” Bertrand tells SND. “When I first started some 25 years ago, nobody knew where Languedoc was. It’s important for me to make the link between my wines and the lifestyle of the region.”

Bertrand claims to be by far the largest rosé producer in the Languedoc. The winery’s extensive rosé stable includes the Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc at $16 a 750-ml., Cotes des Roses at $19, and GMVW—a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Vermentino, and Viognier—at $60-$70. “It’s important for us to offer a diverse lineup of rosés across a number of price points,” Bertrand notes. “We see great potential for the category all over the world and particularly in the U.S. market, which is among the most exciting right now due to its growth.”

Bertrand is releasing two new rosés this spring and summer through his Gérard Bertrand USA import unit. The first, Diving Into Hampton Water ($25), is a collaboration with musician Jon Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi’s son, Jesse, and is available across 14 states on the East Coast, with New York playing an especially important role. Meanwhile, this summer will see the release of Ballerina ($49), a high-end sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for which Bertrand sees major on-premise potential.

While rosé is currently the top growth driver, Bertrand sees opportunities across the range, with a focus on higher-end biodynamic and organic expressions. “We know the biodynamic and organic category will continue to grow,” he says. “The French market is very aware of both types of wines, and we increasingly see more consumers from around the world looking for those offerings as well.” He cites the positive progress of the winery’s estate-grown biodynamic wines, all retail priced at above $35 a 750-ml., in the U.S. as evidence, as well as the successful recent launch of Perles de Sauvignon Blanc ($16), a wine made from organically grown grapes that he says will be a significant growth contributor this year. —Julia Higgins

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