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Interview with Pavel Shvets

Pavel Shvets is a famous Moscow sommelier.

This profession appeared in our country relatively recently, and he was one of the first in it.

I first saw Paul several years ago, when he acted as a presenter of one of the professional contests.

Charming, emotional, inspired, he literally flew around the stage.

It was noticeable that he, the winner of the First Russian sommelier competition, treats the contestants with great understanding and sympathy and does not formally do his job, but puts his whole soul into it.

So he does everything, no matter what he does, and he has a lot of work: he is the manager and sommelier of the restaurant Salon De Gusto, the founder of the wine trading company specializing in biodynamic wines.

And recently, Pavel Shvets decided to start winemaking himself — and following all the rules of biodynamics — and now he grows his own vineyard in the Crimea.

What is biodynamics and why did you decide to do exactly biodynamic wines?

I decided to engage in biodynamic wines, because I believe that in my work I should always strive for the best.

Wine is born in the vineyard and the quality of the wine is directly dependent on the quality of the grapes.

Berry juice is the future sugar in wine, the skin is its color and aroma, the bones are tannins.

By varying the ratio of these three components, you can get a certain style of wine. The winemaker must know that the accumulation of sugar in the berry depends on the air temperature and the number of clusters on the vine, the amount of coloring and aromatic substances is influenced by the lighting …

If a winemaker grows ripe, healthy berries, with an ideal balance of taste, aroma and tannins, then he doesn’t have to do anything else — just crush these berries and wait until you get a good wine.

Well, maybe, to make the simplest operations.

But if you can not grow the perfect berry, you need to use modern methods of vinification. The so-called “flying wine-makers” will gladly tell you about them — advisors who are so popular all over the world today and who are ready to fly to any part of the world to give advice on how to make wine better.

But after all the technological actions, the “spirit” of the terroir is no longer felt in wine, the drink loses the uniqueness that distinguishes every vineyard, because there are no equal parcels of land, as there are no identical people.

Such devoid of individuality, «man-made» wines are no different from each other.

I was struck by one incident: I tried sauvignon blanc with hints of red currant leaves from the Italian region of Alto Adige. And then he discovered the same aroma in wines from Chile and Pessac-Leonon (and a very high level).

At first I liked the wine from Alto Adige, but when I realized that it was unnatural, it didn’t interest me.

Only by studying wines, one can understand where the aroma is artificial, obtained by technological methods, and where it is lively, natural.

And I realized that the main feature of biodynamic wines is precisely individuality.

Much has been said and written about biodynamics, but at the same time, in my opinion, there is not a single article that intelligibly explains what it is.

First you need to say a few words about biological wines.

In a nutshell, these are wines made from grapes grown using organic methods, without the use of herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.

Bio — is the purity of the enterprise and the vineyard. The essence of any biological enterprise, no matter what it produces — vegetables, fruits or wine, is that during the time that a single crop grows, you need to take exactly as many nutrients from the soil as it can reproduce as a result of its natural work. .

We must not forget about the health of the earth, that there is no vacuum in nature and that everything is interconnected in it.

A person acts as a conductor, manager.

And you can only manage natural, natural methods.

But biodynamics is already a science, philosophy and technology of this management, which is based on the experience of a huge number of generations, civilizations and cultures.

Biodynamics is based on the laws of nature, on cosmic rhythms.

After all, everything on earth, including the life cycles of a living cell, is subject to external rhythms. Biodynamics explains how to cultivate the land, what to do when and in accordance with these rhythms, how to build a calendar according to which you should live.

In pagan times, people were closer to the earth, they lived in harmony with it. But today, when we have all the benefits of civilization, we stopped paying attention to cosmic rhythms. And this is wrong.

You did not notice that people who live in nature are healthier, they have a louder laugh, and their eyes are more cheerful?

There is no witchcraft in biodynamics, everything is very simple and explicable.

However, it is very difficult for an uninitiated person to understand some things.

I understand what you mean.

There are peculiar preparations in biodynamics: the most common of them are №500 and № 501.

For the production of the drug number 500 take manure, lay it in a cow horn and buried in the ground.

After some time, the horn is dug out, its content is diluted in 100 liters of water, this hectare of land is treated — and the soil becomes energetically active. The effect of this drug is difficult to explain, but we see the result.

We can’t explain a lot, we don’t know completely how our brain works. We have created computers and spaceships, but we do not understand why we love one person and not another.

While it is necessary to take it for granted.

Preparation No. 501 is simpler: these are ground quartz crystals.

When the grapes do not have enough sunlight, grape leaves are sprinkled with this powder (1 tsp per hectare of land) — to increase photosynthesis. But if you have processed the vineyard with quartz and the sun has looked out, the vineyard will burn.

Therefore, this drug should be used very carefully.

Please tell us about your winery.

This is a non-profit project. I started working on it four years ago.

I always thought that winemakers were very happy people, and I dreamed of my own vineyard. I was looking for a place for a long time, I wanted to start from scratch. And now, near Sevastopol, where I come from, I found a site: quite high in the mountains, 350 meters above sea level.

There are all conditions for the production of dry wine — not very hot and enough rainfall, 650 mm per year — by the way, in Sevastopol, only 15 km from there, only 300 mm.

The river Uppa (translated from the ancient Tatar, it means «mother»), from which the vineyard got its name, forms a special climatic microzone.

Preparation for planting grapes was three years. Much time was spent on paperwork. The land belonged to the peasants, I personally met them and explained what I wanted to do.

Then we uprooted the old trees, conducted laboratory studies of the soil, searched for people, equipment (you have no idea how difficult it is to import tractors to Ukraine), pure biological fertilizers.

Then it was necessary to purchase planting material — for each site we picked up individual clones and stock.

And in the spring, April 17 — as it should be, on a growing moon — we planted six kinds of French seedlings: Pinot noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. There is no region in the world where all the wines from all these varieties would turn out equally well.

But since we do not have experience in growing grapes and producing high-quality wine, we will have to experiment. I collected a lot of research on the climate of this area, we took into account the conditions of microzones, winds, precipitation and many different factors.

However, no one will tell you in advance which variety will grow better.

On what basis did you pick grapes?

I love Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon. Merlot grows well in a cool climate, but Crimea is a difficult region.

The winters are cold here, the summer is hot, the vegetation period of the plants is short.

For a long time I chose the layout and landing density, the arrangement of rows (from east to west or from north to south).

On the steeper slopes of the slope, we planted merlot and cabernet sauvignon. If a cabernet sauvignon is powerful, I might need it to improve the merlot. Of the 16 hectares while we processed 4.2 hectares.

But all biodynamists say that this is very much: more than 3 hectares per year are never planted, because large areas are very difficult to process in a biodynamic manner.

Making dry wines in the Crimea is a rather bold decision, because all the famous and recognized in the world Crimean wines are fortified.

All worthwhile wine projects in the Crimea and in Russia are non-commercial. Biodynamics is a risk because you can lose most of your harvest.

If you use the old methods, you will not get such a high-quality, but stable crop. I risk my money to satisfy my interests and desires.

I owe nothing to anyone, and for me it is very important. Until enthusiasts invest their money in winemaking, we will not have really good wine. It is much easier to buy wine materials in Chile or Argentina, bring them in tankers and pour them.

That’s right, if we talk only about business, but not about art.

I was interested in the issue of the production of dry wines in the Crimea, read a lot of books and found out that before the 50s of the last century good dry wines were made here.

Then it was decided to double the production, they built factories for the processing of wine materials by the flow method, developed high-yielding grape varieties, and used chemistry.

All this was done with the aim of producing a lot of cheap wine. And the cadres for 60 years have been «forged» appropriate, and even now the same continues. Unfortunately, there is nothing to talk with our older winemakers, we have no one to learn from.

And it’s very difficult to find a good enologist with us, and I was lucky that I found a young specialist who was not spoiled by the old approach to the production of wine — this is Andrey Staiko.

By the way, he graduated from university with a gold medal and defended his diploma on the subject of organic winemaking.

I was introduced to him by the wife of the director of the Odessa factory of sparkling wines, the candidate of science, the head of the laboratory at the department of viticulture and winemaking at Odessa University.

She is a real enthusiast! — opened students eyes on the situation in the industry.

Before that, I had traveled to many specialized schools, I was in Simferopol, in Kiev, I told students about my project, but no one showed interest.

When will we see the result and what do you expect from it?

What will be the new wine?

We will harvest the first crop in 3 years, and I will strive to show the individuality and uniqueness of the terroir in my wines. The grapes will be as alive as possible, because we will process it very gently.

As for the taste and aroma, I can not say anything, I do not even know whether the wines will be varietal or assembled.

Until I even began to design a winery, I do not know what area I need the cellar.

Who are your potential customers?

These are my friends and partners.

I hope that in 3-4 years I will be able to create a club of true wine lovers. We plan to plant a total of 12 hectares of vineyards, from which we will get 60-70 thousand bottles of wine, which is quite a bit.

I am sure that people will be interested in quality wines from the Crimea.

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