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.
50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cask sample.
Power and elegance combined. Deep purple-black colour. Intensity and complexity on the nose with dark fruit, cassis, mint and floral notes. Beautifully poised on the palate with smooth attack and persistent fruit and freshness. Powerful tannic frame but tannins really fine and no extraction. Long, persistent finish. Absolute precision. More than highlights the change in style. One of the best yet.
18 points, James Lawther, JancisRobinson.com (April 2021)
The Cabernets dominate the blend on the aromatics, and you can really see they are moving the needle on the architecture and sculpting of this wine. A ton of concentration on the nose and upfront, but it is well balanced by damson and blackberry, and has a sense of energy, uplift and clear minerality. This shows the limestone terroir in a way that, with the best will in the world, the more concentrated style of Pavie just didn't do. There is density and glamour, with layers of black chocolate, graphite and liquorice. It is pretty disarming overall, and will age extremely well. 3.61pH. A yield of 31hl/ha, average age of vine 49 years. 75% new oak. Drinking Window 2027 - 2044
97 points, Decanter (May 2021)
Composed of 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2020 Pavie weighs in with an alcohol of 14.82% and a pH of 3.61. It is aging in French oak barriques, 75% new. Opaque purple-black colored, notes of plum pudding, blueberry pie and dark chocolate-covered cherries charge out of the gate, followed closely by hints of eucalyptus, star anise, unsmoked cigars and fertile loam with a hint of cedar chest. The full-bodied palate is built like a brick house, offering very firm yet wonderfully ripe, velvety tannins and seamless freshness to support the densely laden, muscular black and blue fruits, finishing very long and with loads of mineral-laced layers. As hedonic as it is cerebral this year, it is a beautiful paradox.
(97-99) points, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
The 2020 Pavie is very clearly one of the wines of the year. Rich, inky and wonderfully vibrant, it pulses with energy from start to finish. All the elements are well balanced. Soaring Cabernet Franc aromatics lead into a core of finely knit yet deep fruit in a wine that feels endless. Harvest for the reds started on September 17, paused briefly during some rain on the 25th and 26th, and then wrapped up by the end of the month. The blend is 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, so more Cabernets than in the past, the result of a large replanting program that began in the early 2000s. A real head-turner. Magnificent!
(97-99) points, Vinous (June 2021)
A wine that’s going to flirt with perfection, the 2020 Château Pavie is another magical wine from the genius of Gerard Perse and is 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, brought up in 75% new French oak. The style here has unquestionably shifted from the blockbuster style of the 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010 to a more elegant, refined style today that still brings plenty of fruit yet certainly stays more focused and precise. Is the new style better? I’m not sure, and there are certainly times I miss the opulence and decadence of the old style. Nevertheless, the wines today are magical Saint-Emilion that still show a rare mix of power and elegance. The 2020 is full-bodied and beautifully concentrated on the palate, offering a mouthful of cassis, black cherry, and mulberry fruits as well as a liqueur of rocks-like minerality, leafy herbs, and truffly earth. It doesn’t lack structure and has silky, polished tannins and flawless balance. Give bottles at least 7-8 years in the cellar and enjoy over the following 3+ decades.
(96-98) points, JebDunnuck.com (May 2021)
The 2020 Pavie was picked September 21–30 at 31hl/ha and matured in 75% new oak, the rest one year old. It continues to see greater emphasis on Cabernets – 34% Franc and 16% Sauvignon, the Merlot reduced to half the blend. This gradual rejigging of the blend is borne out on the nose, which features hints of damp loamy soil and bell pepper infusing vivid blackberry and wild strawberry fruit, becoming more and more citrusy with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with sautéed tannins that gently grip. Powerful, but the 14.82° alcohol is neatly disguised on the finish (at least in tasting measure) with fine delineation. Cohesive and focused. I would like to see a little more personality develop during élevage, but this remains an impressive Saint-Émilion and a Pavie with a long future ahead.
(95-97) points, Vinous (May 2021)
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.