|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||6,500 cases|
|Classification||Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe A|
|Interesting Fact||Owner Perse’s spare-no-expense attitude was typified in his recent decision to completely renovate his cellars - just 14 years after he had the current, arguably still state-of-the-art ones completely new-built.|
Critics have been fiercely divided between those who favour Chateau Pavie’s new direction under Perse and his consultant Michel Rolland, and those who have accused the owner of cynical behaviour, tailoring the wine to the palate of Robert Parker and other influential critics. An outright war developed between critics Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker over the 2003 vintage after the former critic wrote a scathing review and Parker proceeded to accuse her of spitefulness and deceit!
The character of the Grand Vin has certainly changed, but excepting the Saint-Emilion old guard, and perhaps some viogniers jealous of the personal resources available to Perse that have allowed him to make such a drastic overhaul, most would agree that Pavie has changed for the better. The price-influencing machine that is Robert Parker certainly thinks so- awarding the estate a perfect score for its 2000 vintage and regularly having given similarly glowing reviews since then.
The view that Perse should be rewarded, not vilified for his efforts, is a view clearly shared by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO). They selected the estate as one of just two which were promoted to the lofty position of Premier Grand Cru Classe ‘A’ in the 2012 reclassification of Saint-Emilion chateaux. Whatever the controversies surrounding Pavie, it has been performing very strongly across all markets of late.
Chateau Pavie 2009 is a concentrated, powerful wine that Neal Martin described as almost New World in style. Significantly backwards in its youth, the Grand Vin is a wine to cellar and forget about for a decade at least, and that will continue to mature for 40-50 years. It is also one of those rare wines that Robert Parker has described as ‘perfect’:
‘This inky/blue/purple-colored blockbuster reveals wonderful notes of blackberries, crushed rocks, roasted meats, spring flowers, cedar, blueberries, graphite and a hint of vanillin. With extravagant fruit and high extract as well as a hint of minerality, this structured, massively intense effort is typical of all the luxurious, perfect or nearly perfect Pavies produced under the Perse regime (which began in 1998). While built for 40-50 years of cellaring, the softness of the vintage and its flamboyant style is slightly less apparent in the 2009 Pavie than in some of the other Perse wines. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050+’
Robert Parker Jr (100 pts)
Chateau Pavie had grown to a position of eminence by the early part of the 19th century, and was listed in the first edition of Cocks Feret of 1850 as a ‘first-class growth’ of Saint-Emilion. The Valette family oversaw its initial 1950s classification as a Premier Grand Crus Classe ‘B’. Moving into the latter half of the 20th century, Pavie began to court controversy with some critics very vocal about their love for the popular Valette family’s offerings and others, including Robert Parker remaining unimpressed.
The era of debate around Pavie only really got going with its purchase in 1998 by Gerard Perse, a millionaire supermarket magnate who paid more than $30 million for the estate. He spared no expense in carrying out what some saw as brutal renovations which completely altered the Grand Vin’s character- to the dissapointment of Pavie’s established fans, but also winning the estate many other influential champions, including Robert Parker.
Perse’s perfectionist attitude to estate management seems to have been vindicated recently; in 2012, Pavie joined Ausone and Cheval Blanc, alongside concurrently-promoted Angelus among the cream of the crop of Saint-Emilion- the Grand Cru Classe ‘A’.
Chateau Pavie Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Pavie
Bottled the week before I arrived, the 2009 Pavie appears to have barely budged since I tasted it two years ago. Many experts consider this phenomenal terroir to be nearly as great as that of Ausone. Made from a classic blend of 60-70% Merlot, 20-25% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, this inky/blue/purple-colored blockbuster reveals wonderful notes of blackberries, crushed rocks, roasted meats, spring flowers, cedar, blueberries, graphite and a hint of vanillin. With extravagant fruit and high extract as well as a hint of minerality, this structured, massively intense effort is typical of all the luxurious, perfect or nearly perfect Pavies produced under the Perse regime (which began in 1998). While built for 40-50 years of cellaring, the softness of the vintage and its flamboyant style is slightly less apparent in the 2009 Pavie than in some of the other Perse wines. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050+.
I tasted this wine twice during the 2000 horizontals, then I actually popped the cork and drank a half-bottle of it. This wine remains, for me, one of the compelling success stories for proprietor Gerard Perse. An extraordinary effort made from a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from the limestone soils that dominate this very distinctive terroir, the 2000 Pavie has moved out of the closed, dormant, broodingly backward stage into an adolescent period where one can see its extraordinary vibrancy, and great complexity as well as potential. It boasts an unctuous display of rich, cedar box-infused cassis fruit and liquid minerality. The tannins have sweetened, yet the wine has thirty years of longevity and potential evolution. A beautiful wine of great mass as well as elegance, it is good to see the extraordinary efforts that Gerard Perse and his team have made confirmed in this prodigious wine. A legend now ... a legend for the future. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2060.
At its release, the 2003 Pavie was somewhat controversial in wine tasting circles, but eleven years later it is obviously a great classic. Its deep purple color is accompanied by notes of vanillin, lead pencil shavings, creme de cassis, plums, black currants and kirsch. Full-bodied, youthful and rich with terrific purity and texture as well as a striking opulence, its 40+-second finish, stunning purity and wonderful perfume suggest it can be drunk now or cellared for 15-20 years.
Now that the 2005 Pavie is in the bottle, I would place it, qualitatively, a notch below the prodigious 2000, and a few notches above the blockbuster 2003. There are 7,000 cases of this 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Disregarding the blatant jealousy of his success as well as his “outsider” status, proprietor Gerard Perse has pushed the envelope of quality, fashioning first-growth quality wines from one of Bordeaux’s finest terroirs. In St.-Emilion, only Ausone can be considered to have greater potential in terms of micro-climate and terroir. Pavie’s 2005 exhibits a thick-looking purple color to the rim as well as an exquisite perfume of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, unsmoked cigar tobacco, crushed rocks, damp earth, and hints of truffles and incense. The vineyard’s limestone soils have provided massive concentration, a laser-like precision, fresh, zesty acidity, and massive tannin. Despite the wine’s enormous concentration and intensity, there is a lightness to its style. As Perse has made clear, he is trying to produce modern day versions of such great vintages as 1921, 1929, 1945, and 1947, wines that lasted 50 or more years. I do not understand why Perse receives so much criticism. In the blind tastings of each new vintage conducted by the Grand Jury European, Pavie usually wins against 100 or so other great Bordeaux. As they say, the truth is irrefutable - this is one of the world’s most outstanding wines, and the 2005 Pavie should take its place among the greatest achievements of Bordeaux in the last 50 years. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2060.
Painfully powerful, backward and super-concentrated, this 2010 is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon cropped at 26 hectoliters per hectare. The harvest, as usual, was late by the standards of the appellation, occurring between October 12 and October 19. The alcohols are surprisingly modest by 2010 standards, 14.2%. As usual, this is one of the top wines of the vintage, but it needs a good decade of cellaring. It is much more backward and restrained than the 2009 was at the same stage, and seems even more tannic and structured than the 2005. It is a monumental wine for true connoisseurs who have the patience and discipline to cellar it for a good decade. Anticipated maturity: 2025-2060+. This great terroir dominates the Cote Pavie, which is a combination of decomposed limestone and more gravelly soils at the bottom of the slope. Kudos to proprietors Chantal and Gerard Perse for continuing to push the envelope of quality and ignoring their jealous critics.
The 2006 Pavie, a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, is cropped low as the viticultural work is impeccable, the winemaking is thoroughly Burgundian in style, and bottling is accomplished with no fining or filtration. With over 90 acres in vine, this is one of the larger of the premier grand cru classes in St.-Emilion. A prodigious effort, the 2006 does not have the sucrosite of the 2005, 2003, or 2000, but it would not be embarrassed if tasted side by side with either of those two titans. A dense purple color as well as an extraordinary perfume of crushed black currants, licorice, wet stones, and subtle background oak are found in this tannic, dense, masculine-styled 2006. Backward and extraordinarily pure, it is built like a Manhattan skyscraper with exceptional focus, depth, texture, and length. It’s all here, but 5-10 years of patience will be warranted. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035. Since 1998, no other Bordeaux estate except Ausone has had such a superlative record of quality. Pavie’s wines are usually among the top half-dozen in every vintage, including such challenging years as 2004, 2003, 2002, and 1999. Proprietor Gerard Perse’s flagship vineyard is situated on a gorgeous, south-facing slope possessing three distinct soil types, limestone, clay, and a sand/clay mixture.
One of the candidates for wine of the vintage ... again, the 2001 Pavie, from a magnificent south-facing vineyard planted primarily on limestone soil, is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. After a six week maceration, it spent nearly 24 months in new oak prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Some Bordeaux brokers think it might be even better than the 2000 Pavie, but I do not agree. The inky/ruby/purple-colored 2001 exhibits a tight but promising nose of crushed stones, a liqueur of blackberries, cherries, and black currants, and subtle smoke and licorice in the background. Powerful, with impressive elegance, fine harmony among its elements, a multi-layered texture, it has a finish that lasts for 50+ seconds. There is considerable tannin, but it is well-integrated. Give it 3-4 years, and drink it over the next two decades. A profound effort for the vintage, it is an example of a perfectionist proprietor pushing the envelope of quality.
A brilliant effort from proprietors Chantal and Gerard Perse, Pavie’s 2004 (7,050 cases) exhibits an inky/ruby/purple color, a surprisingly soft, forward style for this hallowed terroir, full-bodied, and concentrated creme de cassis flavors intermixed with cherries, truffles, and subtle smoky wood notes. Beautifully-textured as well as expansive, this may be the most developed and forward Pavie made by Perse since his acquisition of the property in 1998. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2025+.
The full-bodied, opaque purple-hued 2012 exhibits a beautiful nose of mulberries, black cherries, cedar wood, high quality toasty oak, lead pencil shavings, crushed chalk and floral notes. This complex, authoritative, full-throttle Pavie possesses much more accessibility and precociousness than most vintages. It is another brilliant effort from proprietors Chantal and Gerard Perse. It should be drinkable in 8-10 years and last for three decades. From 47-year-old vines, Pavie, one of the largest estates in St.-Emilion (92 acres), has once again hit pay dirt with their 2012 Pavie. Yields were 28 hectoliters per hectare (which is slightly above the 26 hectoliters per hectare in 2010), and the harvest was exceptionally late. The tannins may be the sweetest of any young Pavie I have tasted since the 2001 (which the 2012 vaguely resembles).
The 1999 Pavie is a candidate for "wine of the vintage". It boasts an opaque ruby/purple color in addition to gorgeous aromas of crushed minerals, smoke, licorice, cherry liqueur, and black currants. The wine is exceptionally pure and multilayered, with stunning texture and overall balance. The tannin level suggests 3-4 years of cellaring is warranted; it should age gracefully for 25+ years. If readers are wondering why Pavie has become so much better under the administration of Chantal and Gerard Perse, keep in mind that yields are one-third of what they were under the previous owners.