I am always a little skeptical when it comes to wines with made-up names, offbeat bottles, and other marketing techniques aimed at luring consumers into buying them. Gérard Bertrand’s 2015 “Art de Vivre” Red Blend from Languedoc checked those boxes with its amphora-inspired clay bottle, and its name, which means “art of living” — and, let’s be honest, is a rather sweeping pronouncement for a bottle of wine.
It turns out that this is really good wine — an $18 value that shows the quality coming from the huge Languedoc region in the south of France and, more specifically, from Bertrand’s vast collection of châteaux, domaines, and brands.
The “Art de Vivre” blend is typical of Languedoc — Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, or GSM as it’s known. Only part of the wine receives barrel aging, which keeps its flavor from being dominated by wood, and allows it to maintain a nice freshness five years after the vintage. It’s a seductive style that makes the wine versatile and easy to drink, even with alcohol at 14.5 percent.
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Aromas and tastes of red-berry fruit and just-ripe blackberry are accented by subtle notes of black and green olives, hints of balsamic, and garrigue, the fragrant Mediterranean scrub plants like thyme and rosemary and lavender that grow all over Languedoc. In fact, top pairings with the “Art de Vivre” Red would include grilled chicken and pork marinated with a generous seasoning of herbs de Provence.
Beyond the red, Bertrand also produces an equally impressive “Art de Vivre” white wine. The 2018 “Art de Vivre” Clairette du Languedoc Adissan is made from the ancient Clairette grape, grown, in this case, in the Adissan commune in Languedoc. It’s fresh, fragrant, and dry with white peach, apricot, floral, and white pepper notes. It’s great for sipping on its own, and will match well with all kinds of fish and Asian dishes.
As for the clay bottle, it kind of grew on me, and might even add a nice decorative touch to a kitchen or bar.