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.
"The 2017 Pavie is very good, but it is also a bit sombre in this vintage, almost as if the lack of sun during the summer speaks through the wine. Wild cherry, blueberry jam, leather and spice add to an impression of darkness. The 2017 finishes with real density and power to round things out. I can't wait to see how the 2017 develops over the next year."
94-97 points, Antonio Galloni
"There was no frost in this vineyard in 2017, due to its elevation, and grapes were harvested September 25 through October 3. Composed of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, the very deep purple-black coloured 2017 Pavie has a profound nose of crushed blackcurrants, warm black plums and black forest cake with nuances of licorice, espresso, Chinese five spice and violets plus wafts of smoked meats and garrigue. Full-bodied, rich, firm, velvety and packed solid with black and blue fruit layers accented by sparks of exotic spices and floral scents, it finishes very long and incredibly layered. This is a very unique expression of this vintage."
97-99 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"37 ha (91 acres) planted in a single block. 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermented in wooden vats. Aged in 80% new oak. pH 3.61, TA (sulphuric) 3.78 g/l. Total vatting 38 days.
Black-hearted with purple rim. Rich and dark and packed with fruit, and here the oak char adds a savoury quality and does not overwhelm the fruit. Excellent freshness – everything is embryonic but in a powerful but harmonious whole. A particular style but well done in that style. Chewy, compact and all so concentrated. Needs time to unfurl.14.61% Drink 2030-2045"
17++ points, Julia Harding MW, jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 Pavie, picked from 25 September and matured in 80% new oak, comes in with 14.61° alcohol and a pH of 3.61. It has a clean, pure bouquet with blackberry, briary, cedar and pencil lead aromas, the latter emanating from the Cabernet Sauvignon. This is one of the bouquets that you might mistake for a Left Bank due to the high Cabernet content. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, layers of black fruit are laced with tar and tobacco – a far less opulent Pavie than recent vintages. Grippy and assertive, a more masculine Saint-Émilion compared to its peers, quite saline towards the finish. It is a Pavie for long-term ageing. Patience required."
93-95 points, Neal Martin
"This is very velvety with a very pretty density and richness. Full body and chewy tannins. Focused and tight on the finish. Succulent and savoury, too. Shows strength and subtlety at the same time."
96-97 points, James Suckling
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.