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Ric visits Chateau Pavie

June 28, 2019

The success of Chateau Pavie would surely not have been possible without the brilliant entrepreneurship of M. Gerard Perse. Having successfully built up a supermarket chain (that became Carréfour after he had sold it), M. Perse turned his attention to wine, investing in Ch Monbousquet and then Ch Pavie in 1998. Continually re-investing to improve the estate’s image and facilities as well as quality and appeal of its wines, Ch Pavie finally attained its exalted status of Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” in 2012.

20190626_105711Named after a bygone era when peaches used to grow in its present grounds, Ch Pavie is a 37-hectare estate divided into 21 sub-plots, planted with 60% merlot, 25% cabernet franc and the remainder cabernet sauvignon on a lovely south-facing slope that facilitates even exposure to both the morning and afternoon sun. The top part of the slope is largely limestone while clay and pebbly soils dominate the lower reaches. The average age of the vines is 45 years. Parts of the higher slopes are naturally terraced which helps to shield the vines against extreme heat. Harvesting is usually completed within ten days. The grapes are sorted by hand with the aid of optical sorting as well. Pumping over takes place twice daily while the wine is sitting in vats for six weeks. Up to eighty percent new oak is utilised for ageing while five percent pressed wine is introduced to the second label. About 120,000 bottles are produced annually.

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Magnificent sculpture of Qin Shihuang’s chariot gifted by a wealthy admirer from Zhuhai, China.

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Ch Pavie must be surely be one of the most striking estates in Saint-Emilion. Located about two kilometres from the touristy village, the extensive grounds comprise magnificent limestone buildings (erected in 2011) that house the chai as well as a luxurious 5-star hotel called the Residence Pavie (where I stayed), Ch Pavie oozes sheer opulence that, thankfully, has been translated into tasteful refinement, tremendous style and utter sophistication. The lobby of the main building is tiled with expensive glossy marble flooring while the Chanel-inspired curtain drapes are specially tailored to match seamlessly with the window frames. The colour hues, materials and furniture arrangement in the tasting annexe are carefully co-ordinated to exude relaxed elegance.

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2012 Ch Pavie

There is no place for vulgarity or obscene excesses. Such is the immediate appeal of the whole place that one simply surrenders to its disarming charms in spite of the obvious pervasive premium that comes with it.

That, in a nutshell, may also describe the style of its wines. Tasted at the estate on 26 June 2019, the 2012 Ch Pavie (70% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc), displaying a beautiful deep garnet red, was still somewhat closed even after having been double-decanted for 90 minutes prior though some eventual whiffs of dark plums, dark currants and redcurrants came through. The wine is distinctly masculine, structured with great acidity and deep layers of warm ripe plummy fruit on the medium-full palate, rounded with excellent concentration, very fine subtleties and inner definition in spite of its tremendous verve and energy, its detailed tannins imparting a superb sappy mouthfeel as it tapered towards a glowing finish amid traces of earth, already quite seamless even at this infantile stage. Since the Perse era, the modern style of Ch Pavie has polarised opinions but like the estate itself, it is easy to fall into its charms when such loveliness abounds.

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