Pernand Vergelesses. A collection of well preserved village properties, perched on the side of a small escarpment, tucked away behind the hill of Corton, just to the north of Beaune. Burgundy picture postcard perfect. A photo on the village web site taken 100 years ago, and one taken recently, show the same picture. No new buildings, and a population which has barely changed in the intervening years.
When looking for exciting new winemakers in Burgundy, we find that following our organic noses is an infallible guide to sourcing quality small estates. Organic equals more work, less juice, more thought, care, and passion on the part of the winemaker. And so it is at Domaine Pavelot. Great wines with freshness and vitality, from a charming family run estate, which is well off the international radar as a Burgundy hot spot.
The widespread focus of attention with the sale of Domaine Bonneau du Martray, came as something of a shock to the village, albeit that it is likely to be a financially beneficial one for the winemakers. Has purchaser Monsieur Kroenke been seen? Well, it is understood he was sighted to sign the purchase documents. Carrying a panier for the harvest was probably not the reason for the acquisition! The two worlds are about as far apart as it is possible to imagine, and the juxtaposition, is what makes Burgundy so special. Little has changed, in so many years, and long may it continue that way.
As with du Martray, discretion and an amiable welcome, are the order of the day at Pavelot. Only a small sign in front of the wisteria advertises their presence, (compared to a slightly grander brass plaque for Bonneau du Martray). Once through the old wooden door, the path leads onto a small terrace, which provides views south towards Beaune, and east to the Hill of Corton, which is where the property owns its Grand Cru vineyards.
The Pavelot estate can trace its winemaking antecedents back to the 17c. It is now managed by brother and sister Luc and Lisa Pavelot, who took over the estate completely from father Regis on his retirement in 2002 . They own 9 hectares of vineyards, dispersed between Grand, Premier, Village and Aligote. From 2000 the estate dispensed with chemical treatments against vineyard maladies, preferring a natural organic approach. Their main market is France, with a modest presence overseas. And yet the 2015 wines we tasted are sensational.
Sous Fretille 1er cru white, a rich sensuous wine, with a buttery viscosity, crisp minerality, and great balance. It is a delight to drink now, but will keep for years. On the red side of the fence, Ile des Vergelesses came as a bit of a surprise. Powerful with elegant tannins, structure, length and complexity. The wine will age effortlessly for just about as long as you wish, but is also immensely enjoyable now. We have highlighted the two wines that came top of our tasting, but none of the others were far behind. All the wines can be purchased, subject to availability, via The Purple Mustard Club, and would make an excellent choice for Thanksgiving or the Festive Season.
The publicity associated with the sale of du Martray, shines a spotlight on a village that is more comfortable basking in relative obscurity. It is also likely to draw attention to the other quality producers in the village, of which Pavelot is one. The price paid for du Martray’s 11 hectares of Grand Cru has not been disclosed, but with Coche Dury and Leroy selling at more than ten times the bottle price of du Martray and Pavelot, there is clearly some scope for upward movement!