Dating back to Roman times, and being one of only four Saint-Émilion producers elevated to the status of Premier Grand Cru Classé, it would seem Chateau Pavie has rather a lot to live up to - and by all accounts, they are holding up their end of the bargain with this year’s vintage.
Since coming under the consultation of renowned Bordeaux-based oenologist Michel Rolland, the Chateau has gained a reputation for vintages of higher concentration and intensity than were yielded in the past - but this year’s release seems to indicate this historic Chateau still has the power to surprise.
Retaining the glamour and panache of recent years, the 2016 has been thrilling and charming critics thus far, with many praising its superior balance and restraint. It is expected to cellar spectacularly, suggesting further delights yet to be discovered.
Give Gerard Perse credit. People thought his numerous assurances that 2000 was the greatest Pavie ever produced were premature as well as arrogant. However, after tasting this extraordinary blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon (made from low yields of 28-30 hectoliters per hectare) six separate times in 2003, it is unquestionably one of the most monumental wines Bordeaux has ever produced. Bottled in March, 2003, about nine months later than other 2000s, the colour is an opaque purple, and the bouquet offers up notes of liquid minerals, blackberries, cherries, and cassis intermixed with spice box, cedar, and white flowers. On the palate, it exhibits a massive display of richness and extract, yet with pinpoint delineation and vibrancy as well as a 60+ second finish, this is the kind of phenomenal wine that Perse's critics were afraid he might produce -- a no-compromise, immortal wonder that represents the essence of one of Bordeaux's greatest terroirs. Life is too short not to own and consume the 2000 Pavie. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050. 100 points, Wine Advocate (2003).
Just beginning to come around and strut its enormous potential, this wine at age 15 has been evolving like a glacier. The wine has an inky, opaque, plum/purple colour and a stunningly rich nose of mulberries, bramble berries, blackberries, licorice and incense as well as touches of toast and graphite. Fabulously concentrated and full-bodied, with a multidimensional mouthfeel, this profound Pavie is in mid-adolescence. It should evolve and continue to drink well for at least another 30-40 years. This is clearly the first compelling effort made by the Perse family. 100 points, Wine Advocate (2015).
Beautiful and on point now, with a cascade of gently steeped blackberry, boysenberry and raspberry fruit flavours that are showing some secondary notes, all followed by singed alder, dried anise, tobacco and black tea accents. Features a mineral lining on the finish, along with a long sanguine echo. Presents a mature edge, but this is racy and fresh, with hints of menthol and bay leaf. 97 points, James Suckling.
Under the regime of Gérard Perse, Pavie seems to have become more opulent, more extracted, and, dare I say it, more simplistic. The richness of the 2000 vintage lends itself to this technique. While it is a wonderful, immediately appealing wine, with its intense dark fruits, it seems to lack the complexity of other wines of similar status. 93 points, Roger Voss.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.