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Beefed up buying power clinches Gérard Bertrand exclusivity at Bibendum

Published:  04 March, 2022

Bibendum Wines has won the exclusive rights to distribute the wines of Southern French pioneer Gérard Bertrand in the UK, Harpers can reveal.

The new agency addition comes at a landmark time for Bibendum. The company is celebrating 40 years in business this month following a buyout by C&C – the owners of Irish cider brand, Magners – back in 2018.

Michael Saunders, head of partnerships at C&C group, says the broader balance sheet of C&C has allowed the business and its sister brands of Matthew Clark and Walker & Wodehouse to back a major brand like Gérard Bertrand and help it to realise its ambitions in the UK.

“Gérard was happy where he was, but he wanted more,” Saunders told Harpers. “What Harriet [Kininmonth, wine trading director, C&C] is now able to do, is to look at a large business like Gérard Bertrand and fit what we do with what they want. We can play across Bibendum Off-trade, Walker & Wodehouse for independents, and Bibendum [on-trade] and Matthew Clark for the chateaux. We can place the right wines in the right portfolio.”

Now in a position to distribute greater volumes across its network, the business will be looking to grow the base of Bertrand’s icon wines.

Château l’Hospitalet, Clos d’Ora, Clos du Temple, Cigalus and Domaine de l'Aigle will be available through Bibendum, while the renowned Chateau Villemajou, Gris Blanc, and Orange gold will be available through Matthew Clark.

C&C group said it is looking to grow its range of biodynamic and sustainable wines as part of a wider ESG strategy.

Known for pioneering sulfite-free and orange wines, Gérard Bertrand’s first grapes were harvested in 1975 in Corbières alongside his father, Georges Bertrand. He then took over the family estate at Château de Villemajou in Corbieres in 1987. Today, the company produces wine across 16 different estates spread over 2,200 acres of southern France.

Gérard Bertrand said he is looking forward to a “long-term” collaboration with C&C group – a “key player” in the English market.

“Its strong presence in both the on and off-trade and the increasing importance it places on digital means together we are in a good position to develop the wealth of our portfolio and to share the happiness that drives us to make wines in the South of France,” he added.

Bibendum Wines celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this week with its annual portfolio tasting in central London which included over 400 wines.

The company started out as a retail and private client business based in Primrose Hill in 1982. From there, Saunders oversaw the company’s expansion to hospitality in the mid-1980s, when more requests for exclusivity prompted more adventurous buying from places like Argentina.

Today, one in three bottles over £25 in the UK on-trade is sold via Bibendum.

More on Bibendum’s anniversary celebrations, via a retrospective with Saunders himself, is available in our March print and digital edition, available today.