Chauvin: A mother/daughter partnership

Mother and daughter Sylvie Cazes and Julie Regimbeau are the driving forces behind the Saint-Emilion grand cru classe estate, Chateau Chauvin. They sit down with dbHK and explain their transformations in the vineyard and visions for the future.

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Sylvie Cazes and her daughter Julie Regimbeau

The fact that Sylvie Cazes and her daughter Julie Regimbeau are running Chateau Chauvin in Saint-Emilion is a pleasant contradiction to the estate’s loose English translation – “the word ‘chauvinist’ doesn’t sound quite as good, does it?’ said Sylvie.

After purchasing the estate in 2014 under hers and her children’s names, Julie, Pierre and Francois, Sylvie set to updating the vineyards, modernising the winery and employing a new technical manager, Philippe Moureau, as well as a technical director, Jeremie Gravier, who joined in January of this year. Her daughter Julie who studied vineyard management and completed stints with Mouton Rothschild as part of its marketing team, also came on board at sales director.

One of the more dramatic changes the duo made was to change the labels starting from the 2014 vintage which is modelled on a design from 1929 found in the estate’s archives and includes the lion symbol of Saint Emilion and the figure of Cupid.

“We just had to change the label,” said Sylvie. “It looked too much like Cheval Blanc’s next door. Also we wanted to have Cupid flying over his vineyards, looking after them and nurturing them in line with the traditional meaning of ‘Chauvin’ – to be proud of your land.”

The second wine, Folie de Chauvin – still in its first vintage of 2014 – also has the new label, albeit in a simpler design which befits its style as it’s made from the estate’s youngest vines.

“Like a ‘folly’ house in English – something fanciful. We love the name. A lighter name for a lighter wine,” said Sylvie.

Taking over from the estate’s previous owners – again an all-female team of Marie-France and Béatrice Ondet, the Cazes were able to use the capital from the family business, Domaine Jean-Michel Cazes, and pull out ailing vines and replant, drain the vineyards and add a new destemmer as well as concentrating heavily on the marketing side, led by Julie who had just travelled to China for the first time.

“Everyone is interested in China these days,” she said. “But it’s still very complicated. One day we would like more presence of course, but we also need to look at our other markets, like Europe, the US and Hong Kong where we’re stronger.”

Referring to the purchase of the estate, Sylvie said the Ondets had done “a very good job and left a great legacy. We have been able to enhance the quality of the wines in even more when we bought it.”

“Chauvin needs to be more well-known,” she continued. “We have beautiful landscape in front of the village of Saint-Emilion next to Pomerol, and Bordeaux is now becoming much livelier with the opening of La Cite du Vin (Bordeaux’s wine museum) which is wonderful because there was a danger that it was becoming too stagnant and rooted in tradition.”

Another trend which is shaking Bordeaux up a little is the number of Chinese investors moving into Bordeaux and snapping up wineries – however Sylvie said that the Bordelais were in support.

“The vineyards [that the Chinese buy] tend to be smaller and not so well known and some of the producers had difficulty in selling the wine anyway. Also the Chinese buyers really value the land and pour a lot of money into them which hadn’t necessarily happened previously. And they keep the Bordeaux consultants and Bordeaux people in the vineyard, so really it’s a good thing.”

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The new label for the 2014 vintage compared to 2005 and 2010

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