Languedoc producer and negociant Gérard Bertrand aims to become the Guigal of the Languedoc with his rapidly-increasing empire.

The former international rugby player and scion of a Languedoc wine family has just bought Domaine de l’Hospitalet, one of the most prestigious domaines in the region.

He will move the headquarters of his business, Les Vins de Prestige, to the new property. Jacques Ribourel, who owned the domaine with shareholders UCCOAR, will retain seven hectares and a house on the property.

Bertrand now has some 250ha of vineyards in total, in Corbieres, Minervois, Vin de Pays d’Oc and La Clape. He is set on producing only the highest-level wines.

‘I want to be seen as a negociant-eleveur in the spirit of Guigal, Jadot or Chapoutier,’ he told decanter.com. ‘We started getting a reputation about five years ago and now every year it gets a little better.

The new purchase is part of this plan – ‘Domaine de l’Hospitalet is very important for our image and recognition in the marketplace’. Bertrand is conscious there are few, if any, negociant-eleveurs in Languedoc.

He said he would not be altering the wine at the domaine, but he would be simplifying the range. ‘It produces very good wine already, from vines that are up to 12 years old, so they are getting better all the time. We will make the top range simpler by having two reds and a white AOC, and one of each Vin de Pays.’

Bertrand is excited about a new Corbieres appellation, which he reckons will be ‘the best appellation in the south’ – Corbieres-Boutenac. It should come into effect within the next year or two years. His family estate of Villemajou will fall within it.

L’Hospitalet is an 852ha complex in the Coteaux du Languedoc, consisting of 52ha of vines, 800ha of natural scrubland (garrigue), a hotel, vinification and ageing cellars, museums, a craft centre and other facilities for tourists.

‘Tourism and wine is very important to us,’ Bertrand said. ‘200,000 people come through here every year. The estate is right by the beach so it is perfect for visitors.’

Written by Adam Lechmere21 June 2002