Château Pavie 2019
• 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 2019 Pavie is a blend of 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested from the 30th of September to the 11th of October. The yields this year were 35 hectoliters per hectare, and the alcohol came in at 14.73%, while the pH was 3.55 (remarkably low!). Very deep garnet-purple in color, the nose opens with a beguiling array of intertwined earth and black fruit scents: baked plums, black cherry preserves, tilled soil, black truffles, mossy tree bark and mulberries with nuances of allspice, clove oil, espresso and cedar chest. Full-bodied, densely packed and with a rock-solid structure, the constrained flavor layers are just waiting to explode; it's framed by firm, exquisitely ripe, rounded tannins and this vineyard's signature freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. Quaking with latent power and shimmering with a kaleidoscope of electric flavors, this could only be Pavie." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (6/9/2020, Bordeaux 2019 Issue), Ratings: 97-100
"The grand vin, the 2019 Château Pavie is based on 50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, continuing the trend toward less Merlot in the final blend. Brought up in 80% new French oak (this has also decreased over the past handful of years), it reveals an inky purple/blue hue as well as a fresh, vivid bouquet creme de cassis, toasted spice, violets, chocolate, and graphite. Just a rich, sexy, full-bodied wine, it stays straight and focused on the palate, with silky tannins, perfectly integrated acidity, and flawless balance. It's going to be drinkable with just short-term cellaring yet still evolve beautifully for 30 years." Jeb Dunnuck, BORDEAUX 2019: A Modern-Day Version of 1982?, Rating: 97-99