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.
"An inspirational wine that shows the evolution of great new wines from St.-Emilion where they've gone from too much wood to perfect balance of fresh and dark fruits and mineral and terroir-driven character. Full-bodied and muscular but so balanced. Drink in 2025 but so wonderful now."
100 points, James Suckling.
"The 2015 Pavie is a blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon that is matured in 80% new oak and 20% one-year-old barrels. It has a really quite glorious bouquet that is sensual and very well defined and pure. In my opinion, just dialing down the new oak even by 15% is allowing more personality and more terroir-expression to filter through. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, ripe, lace-like tannins and a fine bead of acidity. It feels caressing and sensual in the mouth with superb mineralité and purity on the vivacious and sustained finish. This is unquestionably the best wine from Gérard Perse in 2015: a great Pavie with a very long life ahead, though I would cellar it for at least a decade to witness it in full flight." (96-98) points, Neal Martin (April 2016)
"In 2015, the blend is 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wine was matured 80% in new French oak. Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2015 Pavie is still sporting a bit of its oak to begin, giving way to a glorious nose of crushed black cherries, blackberries and mulberries plus hints of dried roses, stewed tea, unsmoked cigars and garrigue. The rich, concentrated, full-bodied palate delivers an incredible structure of very firm, very ripe tannins and a racy line of freshness cutting through the dense layers of perfumed black fruits and savory notions, finishing with epic length." 98 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown (February 2018)
"A generous, opulent, layered Pavie with an incredible intensity of complex flavors - mix of black berries, plums, cedar and sweet floral notes. There is a gentle character despite its size and detail. The wine is complex and quite a powerful, long wine. Impressive." 97 points, Jeannie Cho Lee (May 2016)
"Heady, exotic and absolutely compelling, the 2015 Pavie is one of the standouts of the vintage. Soaring aromatics meld into a core of super-ripe red plum, cherry jam, rose petal, mint and lavender in this sensual, voluptuous Saint-Émilion. Even with all of its flamboyance, the 2015 possesses remarkable nuance and delineation. This is an overwhelmingly beautiful wine that seduces both the intellectual and hedonistic senses. Don't miss it. Tasted two times."
98 points, Antonio Galloni (February 2018)
"One of the wines of the vintage, the 2015 Pavie is dense, powerful and seamless. A huge, spherical wine, even for the year, the 2015 exudes depth. Even with all of its intensity, the 2015 retains striking freshness and nuance, with plenty of bright red stone fruit and floral notes taking center stage. The super-extracted, oak-driven style that was such a Pavie signature a decade ago seems to be giving way to a more refined approach that showcases fruit, richness and purity. This is a superb showing from Gerard Perse and consulting winemaker Michel Rolland."
(95-98) points, Antonio Galloni (April 2016)
"Although this wine is ripe, it is the fruit that sings. Firm and rich, the tannins support the wonderful fruitiness. Its perfumed Cabernets give the wine great presence as well as freshness. It is ready for long aging. Drink from 2027." 96 points, Wine Enthusiast (April 2018)
"This start off richly, featuring beautifully rendered layers of fig, boysenberry and plum pâte de fruit flavors coursing through. The structure is refined and integrated, with a light chalky edge adding tension and vivacity while being absorbed by the fruit. The finish has pyrotechnics of anise, black tea and singed mesquite that are formidably long. Best from 2025 through 2045." 98 points, Wine Spectator (March 2018)
"Rich and silky. Blackish crimson. Massive build. Very sweet - but there is some freshness too. Very round tannins. More fluid and less astringent than many vintages." 17+ points, Jancis Robinson (April 2016)
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.