James Suckling - jamessuckling.com - Apr 2016
About this WINE
Château Pavie is the largest St.Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé, with over 35 hectares of vineyards located exclusively on the St-Emilion Côtes. Pavie is situated south-east of the village of St-Emilion and its vineyards lie on a south-facing slope of the famous limestone plateau.
Pavie's vineyards are bordered by those of Château La Gaffelière and Château Pavie-Decesse. For many years the property was owned and run by Jean-Paul Valette. In 1998 Gérard Perse, who also owns Pavie-Decesse and Monbousquet, purchased it.
Pavie's wine is typically a blend of 55% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Since 1998, the grapes have been fermented in spanking new wooden vats with the wine then being aged in 100% new oak bariques for 18 months. It is bottled unfiltered.
Pavie produces elegant, harmonious and stylish St-Emilions that typically display a fine bouquet with good depth of fruit on the palate. Under the Perse regime Pavie has become richer, more intense and more concentrated.
St Emilion is one of Bordeaux's largest producing appellations, producing more wine than Listrac, Moulis, St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux put together. St Emilion has been producing wine for longer than the Médoc but its lack of accessibility to Bordeaux's port and market-restricted exports to mainland Europe meant the region initially did not enjoy the commercial success that funded the great châteaux of the Left Bank.
St Emilion itself is the prettiest of Bordeaux's wine towns, perched on top of the steep limestone slopes upon which many of the region's finest vineyards are situated. However, more than half of the appellation's vineyards lie on the plain between the town and the Dordogne River on sandy, alluvial soils with a sprinkling of gravel.
Further diversity is added by a small, complex gravel bed to the north-east of the region on the border with Pomerol. Atypically for St Emilion, this allows Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon to prosper and defines the personality of the great wines such as Ch. Cheval Blanc.
In the early 1990s there was an explosion of experimentation and evolution, leading to the rise of the garagistes, producers of deeply-concentrated wines made in very small quantities and offered at high prices. The appellation is also surrounded by four satellite appellations, Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and St. Georges, which enjoy a family similarity but not the complexity of the best wines.
St Emilion was first officially classified in 1954, and is the most meritocratic classification system in Bordeaux, as it is regularly amended. The most recent revision of the classification was in 2012
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux and a grape that has been on a relentless expansion drive throughout the world in the last decade. Merlot is adaptable to most soils and is relatively simple to cultivate. It is a vigorous naturally high yielding grape that requires savage pruning - over-cropped Merlot-based wines are dilute and bland. It is also vital to pick at optimum ripeness as Merlot can quickly lose its varietal characteristics if harvested overripe.
In St.Emilion and Pomerol it withstands the moist clay rich soils far better than Cabernet grapes, and at it best produces opulently rich, plummy clarets with succulent fruitcake-like nuances. Le Pin, Pétrus and Clinet are examples of hedonistically rich Merlot wines at their very best. It also plays a key supporting role in filling out the middle palate of the Cabernet-dominated wines of the Médoc and Graves.