Château Pavie 2016
• Domaine: Château Pavie
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé A
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Sometimes great success takes time to attain. The Saint-Émilion Premiere Grand Cru Classé A producer, Château Pavie, is proof of that sentiment. It took this esteemed estate approximately 2,000 years and significant financial investment to achieve critical recognition on a global scale. The story of Château Pavie is in many aspects an underdog story. It’s a story of setbacks - with its fair share of controversy along the way. Yet despite all of this, the wines this Saint-Émilion powerhouse produces are phenomenal expressions of Right Bank Bordeaux, and proof that this property more than deserves its classification of Premiere Grand Cru Classé A status.
The vineyards of Château Pavie share a similar history with Château Ausone – they were both planted in the Roman Era, during the 4th Century. The limestone terroir with heavy sun exposure proved perfect for Bordeaux varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Château Pavie was a respectable producer during the 19th Century, and it was one of the largest estates in the Right Bank. It changed hands many times throughout the centuries: weathering wars, phylloxera, and economic setbacks. But it wasn’t until 1998 when Gerard Perse – a millionaire and former cyclist – purchased the property that the wines of Château Pavie began their meteoric rise in terms of quality.
Gérard Perse purchased Château Pavie for 31 million in 1998 and invested significant sums of money in a renovation of the tasting rooms and vat rooms. The latest renovation caused a bit of controversy – as some critics did not appreciate the lavish marble entryway of the new tasting room. This did not discourage Perse, and he continued to do whatever he could to make Château Pavie a top tier Saint-Émilion producer. He hired Michel Rolland, one of the top oenologists, as a consultant. Stylistically, the wines shifted from the more delicate versions of the past to more powerful, richly hued wines with heavier tannins and higher alcohol.
The critics were divided about these changes. Robert Parker raved about the new style of Grand Vin at Château Pavie but other critics, such as Jane Anson from Decanter were not as enthused. The conflict peaked during the 2003 vintage when Jane Anson gave it a negative review and Robert Parker sung its praises, escalating in an all-out war of the words between the two critics. Thankfully, things have calmed down since that fateful vintage and it appears both critics mutually agree on the superb quality of these wines.
The vines at Château Pavie all grow in one block – something that is highly unusual for Saint-Émilion producers. Château Pavie practices sustainable viticulture and is hoping to convert to organic farming in the future. Under the reign of Gerard Persé, the team is not afraid to break the mold and make radical changes to ensure top quality wine – regardless of what the critics say. His efforts paid off in 2012 when Château Pavie received its promotion to Saint-Émilion's Premiere Grand Crus Classé A ranking. The estate had finally achieved the recognition it deserved.
The 2016 Pavie a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Very deep purple-black in color, it needs a little coaxing to begin, slowly unfurling to reveal a fragrant perfume of violets, chocolate-covered cherries, crushed blueberries and eucalyptus over a core of preserved plums, kirsch, black raspberries and crème de cassis plus hints of licorice and chargrilled meat. Full-bodied and built like a brick house, it has a solid foundation of firm, super ripe, grainy tannins and seamless freshness interknit with the black fruit preserves and minerally layers, finishing very long and very decadent. Superb!" - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (11/30/2018, Interim Issue), Ratings: 100, Drink: 2021-2060
"A barrel sample, the deep purple-black colored 2016 Pavie comes rolling out of the glass with the most wonderfully sensuous nose of violets, red roses, black tea and wild blueberries over a core of baked plums, blackberry compote, star anise and cloves plus touches of cinnamon stick and underbrush. Full-bodied and super concentrated in the mouth, the palate is built like a skyscraper with a solid structure of grainy tannins and wonderful freshness, finishing very long with long-lingering mineral accents." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (11/30/2018, Interim Issue), Ratings: 98-100
"Turning the dial up considerably, the 2016 Château Pavie leaps out of the glass with a thrilling bouquet of crème de cassis, toasty oak, graphite, white truffle, crayons, and flowers. A blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in 85% new French oak (the new oak has been dialed back in recent vintages), this full-bodied Pavie is made in a more elegant, seamless style compared to prior great vintages, yet it still has brilliant depth of fruit and concentration, ripe, present tannins, a seamless texture, and an awesome finish." Jeb Dunnuck Bordeaux 2016: Firing On All Cylinders (2/28/2019) Rating: 99