Chateau Pavie 2021
• Domaine: Château Pavie
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé A
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
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 2021 Pavie is a wine of tremendous potential. Naturally, it shows the more mid-weight style of the year and yet there is plenty of depth as well as energy that starts to emerge with a bit of time in the glass. Bright saline notes shape the wine while extending the finish and adding so much drive. The 2021 is shaping up to be a very special wine. All it needs is time." - Antonio Galloni, Vinous, Ratings: 95-97, Drink: 2031-2061
"The 2021 Pavie was picked at 33hL/ha from 28 September until 12 October and matured in 75% new oak, the rest one-year. Team Pavie decided to wait to pick the Cabernet until after the rains just prior to harvest. This is clean and precise on the nose, the Cabernet components (48% of the blend) imparting graphite and light cedar aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins that frame layered limestone-infused black fruit, quite vibrant and conveying a sense of energy towards the finish. This has the most persistency of Gérard Perse's wines, and whilst I do not hold it up as the greatest Pavie in recent years, it is clearly top of the tree among his portfolio this year. Superb. 14.14% alcohol" - Neal Martin, Vinous, Ratings: 93-95, Drink: 2026-2060
"Successful, with concentration and power managing a full extraction without bitter edges. Enjoyable cassis, blackberry, with fresher acidities coming through in mandarin peel and white peach. 75% new oak, full on Pavie signature, with plenty of oak caressing, but overall excellent quality. Harvest September 28 to October 12. No chaptilisation, the powerful south-facing slopes coming in extremely handy in 2021." - Jane Anson, Ratings: 94, Drink: 2028-2042