By Laurent Probst, December 20th 2015
The tone is set as soon as we enter the courtyard at La Pierre Latine estate in Yvorne. "Come in, and let’s have a glass" at only ten o'clock in the morning. The conversation is launched rapidly. And before talking of the winemaker, we take an interest in the public figure. For Philippe Gex is a major personality in the region.
He was a former governor of the Guillon Brotherhood for whose magazine he signed a lively chronic. He just recently stepped down from his position as the mayor of the town of Yvorne and knows all the details of the links between the world of wine and politics. And those links are important in a rural town with eleven hundred inhabitants and still more than two hundred jobs directly related to wine.
A liberal at heart, our man, after being a town counsellor in the early eighties, had returned to the management of his estate. That was until Jacques Deladoye, his predecessor as mayor, very attached to the idea that there should be a winegrower at the town council, manages to convince him to return to politics.
With good humour he tells us the story of his election, a post he left in June 2015. He does not regret having resigned although he thoroughly enjoyed being a mayor for fourteen years.
Today released from his mandate, he is devoted to his own business and family. Also he now likes to see everyone come to him for a discussion rather than a complaint. "Especially the citizens who did not differentiate the public role and from the man a few months ago." He appreciates that this barrier fell as soon he stepped down.
The conversation then moves to his estate. His father, who died early, in 1982, left him a little less than two hectares of vines, which were processed by the cooperative in town.
After producing his own first Pinot Noir vintage in 1987, he now possesses 17 hectares of vines and 23 more are rented. "I am the smallest of the large winegrowers in the region," he tells us with a smile. Surely he has good business acumen.
If the estate of La Pierre Latin enjoys a good reputation, Philippe Gex is also proud to be the co-owner of the Clos du Crosex Grillé. On top of being an exceptional terroir, it has an exceptional history. It used to belong to Suzann Churchill a relative of Winston Churchill, which had acquired it in the 1840s with her husband Aimée Cuénod, a banker in Vevey.
Friendship means a lot to Philippe Gex. He offered the keys to the "capite" (a small hut in the vineyards) of Crosex Grillé to his friend Andrea Scherz, the general manager of the Gstaad Palace Hotel, who likes to come to the "Clos de Gstaad" (pronounced "Close to Gstaad" because the vineyard is the closest on a straight line from the Bernese resort) and there is always a supply of bottles for him and his friends hidden in the hut.
After sharing two bottles of Chasselas and another one of Merlot "Mythology Merlotissima" he offered us to taste a Chateau Yquem 1996. What a great time we spent with this unconditional lover of life and its pleasures