Château Pavie 2018 (Pre-Arrival)
• 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 2018 Pavie is composed of 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested October 1-10 with yields of 38 hectoliters per hectare. The wine has a 3.58 pH and 14.48% alcohol. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose starts off quiet and stern, swiftly growing exponentially in the glass to reveal powerful plum preserves, fruitcake, coffee beans, smoked meats and black olives scents with emerging nuances of roses, hoisin, molten chocolate and licorice plus a waft of candied violets. WOW—the palate explodes with waves of black fruit preserves, exotic spices and savory chocolate, framed by very firm, super ripe, velvety tannins and an electric backbone of freshness, finishing with epic length and energy. Amazing, singular wine—it could only be Pavie." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Ratings: 97-100
"One of the wines of the vintage is the 2018 Château Pavie, and Gérard Perse continues to produce one of the greatest wines in the world, in just about every vintage. Based on 60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 shows the slightly more restrained style of the estate today yet still brings classic Pavie richness, depth, and grandeur. Revealing a deep purple color as well as a sensational bouquet of crème de cassis, damp earth, tobacco, chalk, and lead pencil shavings, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, incredible purity, a dense, concentrated mid-palate, and a liqueur of rocks-like sense of minerality on the blockbuster finish. There's a backward, inward style here that actually reminds me of the 2000. This is another magical, probably immortal wine from this terroir that marries power with elegance perfectly. Don't miss it!" Jeb Dunnuck, 2018 Bordeaux From The Bottle (3/11/2021) Rating: 100