Languedoc producer Gerard Bertrand aims to send as much wine to China as he does to the United States within the next four years.
‘L’Art de Vivre': Chateau de l’Hopitalet, La Clape
Bertrand, who has over 400 hectares of vineyard in the Languedoc, now exports around 100,000 cases to all 50 US states.
This year he celebrates his 25th anniversary – he was still playing rugby at international level when he took over the family winery, at Domaine de Villemajou in Corbieres, in 1987, on the sudden death of his father.
Discussing his profile in the US, he told Decanter.com, ‘We came from nowhere and we created a network. By the end of July we will have distributors in all 50 states.’
Bertrand wines are distributed by Southern Wines & Spirits, Glazer’s, Young’s Market and MS Walker; he focuses on what he says is a ‘booming category’ in the US, the US$8-20 range.
Education is key, he says: it is more important to push the ‘South of France’ message than it is to tell consumers the wines are from Languedoc.
‘The South of France is something the consumer understands, rather than Languedoc, or Minervois.’ The regions – Corbieres, Minervois and others – are promoted on the front labels.
He now intends to educate the Chinese in the philosophy of ‘L’Art de Vivre, South of France style’.
Asia is important as the US, Bertrand says, adding that they already have healthy sales in Japan.
Three months ago they signed a distribution deal with importers Summergate, and intend to send 100,000 cases to China within three to four years. This will represent an increase of 30-40% each year ‘minimum’.
The company has an office with two employees in Shanghai. They are tasked, Bertrand says, with ‘creating a business in the mid-range’.
‘Chinese consumers recognise entry level wines, and the first growths of Bordeaux already, so we need to create a market for wines in the €8-€50 range.’
Gérard Bertrand runs six properties in Languedoc, headquartered in his flagship winery Chateau de L’Hospitalet in La Clape.
His wines won 57 medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards this year, including one Gold, 15 Silver, and a Regional Trophy for the Gérard Bertrand Château L’Hospitalet La Réserve 2011.
The 25th anniversary of Gerard Bertrand will be marked in Languedoc with a jazz festival and other celebrations, including concerts by Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Earth Wind & Fire.
Written by Adam Lechmere