While the Perses may think the 2005 is the summit of winemaking at Pavie, this vintage certainly gives serious competition to both the 2005 and 2000. It is certainly the most opulent and luxuriously rich wine Pavie has ever made (and that is saying something). Pavie’s style of low yields, ripe fruit and serious extraction does produce, even in lighter vintages, a very concentrated and dense wine, but in the great years, the results are legendary. This wine has an inky purple color and a stunningly sweet, ripe nose of mulberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, licorice and incense. The oak still has some presence in the aromatics, as well as in the full-bodied, very concentrated, skyscraper-like mouthfeel and texture. This wine feels almost as if you could lose your palate in it, it is so dense and deep, yet at the same time it possesses silky tannins and rather remarkable purity, balance, and a good 60-second-plus finish. This is an amazing wine and probably will be drinkable in 5-10 years (although actually it could be drunk now because of the vintage’s voluptuous texture), and again, seems to have 50 or more years of longevity. It is clearly a modern Bordeaux legend.
Pavie is widely acclaimed as one of Bordeaux’s greatest terroirs, of largely limestone and clay soils. Brilliantly situated with a sunny, southern exposure and exceptional drainage, Pavie potentially rivals nearby Ausone, the oldest and possibly the most famous estate in Bordeaux. Pavie’s other nearby neighbors include, Pavie-Macquin and Troplong-Mondot to the north, Larcis-Ducasse to the southeast and La Gaffelière and Saint-Georges Côte Pavie to the west.
Until 1978, previous owners rarely produced great wine, but of course that all changed with the acquisition of the 92-acre, single vineyard by Chantal and Gérard Perse. In short, they dramatically raised the quality. Currently, the vineyard is planted with 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, but the actual blend for each vintage tends to possess slightly higher amounts of Merlot. A perfectionist, owner Gérard Perse is flexible with the percentage of new oak, as well as how long the wine is aged in cask. Great vintages can get 100% new oak and spend up to 32 months in barrel. Lesser years are bottled after 18 months and see at least 30% less new oak.
There is no fining or filtration. The resulting wine has been considered one of the superstars of Bordeaux since 1978.
Deep garnet in color, the 2009 Pavie drifts effortlessly and profoundly from the glass with baked plums, spice cake, sandalwood, Black Forest cake and blueberry pie scents followed up with a fragrant undercurrent of potpourri, unsmoked cigars and bouquet garni. Full-bodied, rich and plush, this is pure seduction in the mouth, offering a taut yet velvety texture and oodles of freshness to frame the opulent fruit, finishing very long and mineral laced. Drink 2019-2059.
Blackberry, black cherry, licorice and mineral. Full-bodied, with a big core of velvety tannins and rich fruit. Full throttle, and all there. Really massive. Blockbuster and more. Could be a tad overdone. But we will see in bottle.
Blackish purple. Suddenly interesting! Very distinctive. Very appetising and succulent. All pleasure but with a promise of future development. So much more satisfying and succulent than its stablemates. Date tasted 30th March 2010. Drink 2018-2035.
Bordeaux's most controversial wine. Over-priced, over-oaked, over-concentrated "jam juice" according to some and one of the world's greatest wines say others. Some British critics have criticised the Port-like aspects of some recent vintages but Robert Parker, James Suckling and Michel Bettane are big fans. Even Jancis Robinson likes the 2009. Produced from 50 year old vines (70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) and elevaged in 100% new oak by Gérard Perse, the owner of Monbousquet. He has created a modern winery in one of Saint Emilion's greatest terroirs and, with very low yields, is creating wines of enormous concentration and power. Completely different from the Pavies of old (but so is the price). Recent vintages (since 1998) have delivered wines that those looking for traditional Saint Emilion should avoid but those who are impressed by extraordinary levels of intensity will be amazed and delighted. Black, hot, massive, incredibly extracted but less sweet than expected. In fact there is a mouth-puckering dryness at the finish. A controversial wine that impressed some of the Farr Vintners jury, and others hated. It should appeal to those who like this kind of thing. It was hard to produce an average score when one of number gave it 4 out of 20!
The nose is minty with red fruits intermingling with the black. The sweetness that shows at the start is quickly dominated by tannic firmness all too aggressive and drying and this gives the wine a rustic character. Although it may suit some tastes it does lack any charm. Drink 2020-2045.
Dense and profound. Layered fruit. Tight, firm tannic frame. Muscular and powerful. Built for the long haul. A confident wine but misses a little of the charm of the vintage. Drink 2018-2040.
Bottled the week before I arrived, the 2009 Pavie appears to have barely budged since I tasted it two years ago. Many experts consider this phenomenal terroir to be nearly as great as that of Ausone. Made from a classic blend of 60-70% Merlot, 20-25% Cabernet Franc and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, this inky/blue/purple-colored blockbuster reveals wonderful notes of blackberries, crushed rocks, roasted meats, spring flowers, cedar, blueberries, graphite and a hint of vanillin. With extravagant fruit and high extract as well as a hint of minerality, this structured, massively intense effort is typical of all the luxurious, perfect or nearly perfect Pavies produced under the Perse regime (which began in 1998). While built for 40-50 years of cellaring, the softness of the vintage and its flamboyant style is slightly less apparent in the 2009 Pavie than in some of the other Perse wines. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050+.
Another brilliant effort from Gerard Perse, this great vineyard (now just over 90 acres in size with the average age of the vines 45 years) was cropped at 28 hectoliters per hectare. It obviously missed all the damaging hail in mid-May of 2009, and was harvested between October 5 and 15. Everything here is done with extraordinary gentleness and precision. The result is a powerful, full-bodied, remarkably intense wine that is black/purple in color. It will require considerable patience, much like 2000 and 2005. It displays enormous creme de cassis and boysenberry fruit with some cherries, spice box, and crushed rock in the background. It is intense, with loads of minerality, huge extraction, massive power, yet again, the vintage character seems to have given it a freshness and vibrancy despite the wine's obvious viscosity. The minimum patience required is at least a decade, as this is another 40-year wine from Gerard Perse. (Tasted five times.) Drink 2020-2060.
The 2009 was raised in 80% new oak and is a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 Pavie has a very intense bouquet with ripe black plum, raspberry, kirsch and just a hint of cassis. It is controlled, well defined and unfurls nicely in the glass, exhibiting impressive purity. The palate is full-bodied with huge grip in the mouth. Powdered dark chocolate infuse the dark berry fruit, grippy tannins and an assertive, almost abrasive finish that will require a decade of bottle age. Surprisingly perhaps, this Pavie may be closing down. Tasted December 2012.
Tasted at Chateau Pavie and then at a negociant. Cropped between 5th and 15th October at 28hl/ha, a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. At the chateau: this has a very dense, introverted bouquet that opens up with aeration, to show some dense black fruit, boysenberry, kirsch and a touch of dried prune. Another bottle that had been open for 30 minutes is much fresher. The palate is full-bodied and well balanced, fine definition and brightness of fruit, not an elegant Pavie but it has panache. Firm grip on the finish with fine minerality. Excellent. The sample at the negociant had more forthright tannins that were very aggressive and dry on the finish. Difficult to pin down with so many different showings, hence the question mark for now. Tasted March 2010.