Ermes Pavese

History of DomaineWinesTech SheetGalleryLabelsInsights
Ermes Pavese is a youthful grower in the commune of La Ruine just outside of the town of Morgex in the high Alps minutes from the summit of Mont Blanc. Pavese works the native grape known as Prié Blanc. Starting with barely two hectares of vineyards, situated at about 1200 meters above sea level, Pavese has gradually expanded his holdings in this high altitude zone. He now produces three versions of Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Because these vineyards are so isolated, Pavese has been able to work with the original, pre-phylloxera root stock since that malady never infiltrated this area when it came sweeping through Europe many years ago.
PAVESE-SPARKLING Ermes Pavese Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle Metodo Classico: A wine of miniscule production, Ermes Pavese makes between 700 and 1,200 bottles of this “Champagne method” Prié Blanc a year. He makes it only in riper vintages when he feels the grapes have an appropriate balance for sparkling wine. The wine sees a combination of stainless steel tank aging, bottle aging on lees pre-disgorgement, and bottle aging post disgorgement. It is hand riddled, and hand disgorged with no dosage added. As unusual as it is delicious, this wine is at once rich and quite dry, speaking clearly of its Alpine origin, with delicate smokiness and lemon curd on the nose, and full, earthy minerality on the palate.
Pavese-Ermes-BLANC-DE-MORGEX-2007 Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle: A stunning wine from the highest vineyard site in Europe, with annual production of about 12,000 bottles of this austere, racy, mineral white wine with vivacity and length.
Pavese-Ermes-NATHAN-2005 Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle “Nathan”: a tiny cuvée selected for its richness that is exposed to barrel fermentation and barrel ageing.
Pavese-NINIVE Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle, Vino de Uve Stramatura Ninive: from a harvest after the first frosts of winter, frequently occurring in early December; essentially an “ice wine” that achieves a formidable concentration.
Vino Bianco “Prié Uno Percento”: Nature dealt the high Alpine hamlets of Morgex and La Salle a fatal blow in 2017, with frost destroying all but 1% of the Pavese family’s crop. From their pittance of grapes, they produced a single vessel of a single wine, naming it “Uno Percento.” Ermes made this singular Prié Blanc the way his grandfather would have: natural fermentation in a small cement tank with nine months of skin maceration and a bottling without fining or filtration, and a mere 15 milligrams per liter of sulfur dioxide added. He made all of 999 bottles, and designed a special bottle in line with their beautifully quirky aesthetic–a cylindrical 750ml bottle with a slanted top, and a patchwork-quilt-looking front label. Each bottle comes individually packaged in wood, with a handwritten letter (in Italian) explaining the exceptional vintage and the philosophy behind the lone wine they coaxed from it. As for the final product, it shows a deep, layered, powerfully stony side of the little-seen Prié Blanc grape, bearing the concentration of a naturally severely reduced crop, and with enough structure to lay down.
“Esprit Fou”: Ermes’s son Nathan came on board full-time at the family winery several years ago, and—in addition to making the most delicious potato chips we’ve ever encountered, from their farm’s high-altitude Alpine potatoes—he is indulging in a bit of thoughtful experimentation in the cellar, finding new registers of expression for the indigenous Prié Blanc variety. Take, for instance, “Esprit Fou”—a pétillant-naturel (or, in Italian, “col fondo”—both French and Italian are spoken in this border zone) for which Nathan bottles still-fermenting Prié and allows the natural yeasts to finish digesting the remaining sugars, thereby turning them into bubbles. The result, dry but creamy, bursts with Alpine herbs, and its exuberant mousse is still undergirded by a savory stoniness that echoes through all the family’s wines. This, our first release of the wine, is from the 2020 harvest, and we have a scant 600 bottles for the US market.
2013 Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle “Ventanni”: In 1993, Ermes Pavese made the bold decision—still uncommon in this corner of the Valle d’Aosta—to begin bottling his own wine rather than selling off the fruit from his tiny then-two-hectare farm to the local co-operative. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of that fortuitous moment, the family held back a portion of their 2013 production to be released later as a library wine, and we are now the lucky recipients of a pristinely aged Prié Blanc from Ermes’s meticulously tended extreme-altitude vineyards. Prié with a bit of bottle age begins to round out, although its rapier-like acidity remains the wine’s predominant structural element, and the fruit undergoes a Riesling-esque transformation into gentle petrol. With this 2013, a gunflint-like smoke—always a terroir marker in Blanc de Morgex—has taken center stage, relegating the savory citrus and stone fruits to a background role, but the wine remains scintillating and exuberantly energetic.

Great Wines to Discover

88 Ermes PaveseValle d’Aosta Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle 2014 $30

Apple, straw and lemon flavors mark this juicy white, which features a chalky underpinning, finishing with a touch of grip. Prié Blanc. Drink now. 7253 bottles imported. – B.S. (Bruce Sanderson)

Print This Page Print This Page