2003 Château Pavie St. Émilion Grand Cru Wine Tasting Note

  1. 2003 Château Pavie (St. Émilion Grand Cru)

    1. Concentrated, lush rich and not overripe, though, there is a mild touch of heat in the opulent finish. The wine kicks off with its nose of dark, red berries, espresso, licorice, and earth. This is a good time to be drinking this, although, there is no hurry to pop a cork.

      95 points - Tasted
    2. 3 - 4 hours of decanting really made a difference. The plan was for about 2 hours of air, but we did not get to the bottle, and I am sure it helped. The wine offered this fabulous, tobacco, rock, plum, earthy character, with a richness, but no sense of over ripeness. It was long, soft and complex.

      96 points - Tasted
    3. Powerful, rich, intense, with a boatload of rich, ripe fruits, crushed stone, licorice and floral aromatics. Ready to drink, but still youthful for a 2003 St. Emilion, the wine is opulent, fat, mouth filling and leaves you with a long finish of ripe, juicy dark plums, dark black cherries, earth and cocoa.

      96 points - Tasted
    4. Power, concentration, intensity, ripe fruits and rocks make up the true blend for this wine. The wine is rich, dense and has a long life to look forward to. I know some people do not like the wine, but I love it! It's definitely better with an hour or two of air.

      97 points - Tasted
    5. Crushed stone, fennel, smoke, caramel and black cherry liqueur. The mineral essence is starting to show through on the palate and in the nose. Packed with layers of ripe, sweet berries, spice and earth, this is fat, lush and mouth filling with good intensity of flavor.

      97 points - Tasted
    6. Intense, thick, lush, rich, fresh and packed with intense levels of sweet, pure fruits, minerality, oak, and frankly, pleasure, this is still young and is only going to get better with age.

      97 points - Tasted
    7. With an attention seeking perfume filled with licorice, smoke, coffee, black cherry liqueur, truffle and stone, the wine is really starting to drink well. The rich, fat, sweet, pure, opulently textured fruit feels great on your palate. An hour or two in the decanter improve the experience. But if you do not have time to decant, do not worry, you'll get a lot of bang for the buck if you pop and pour.

      97 points - Tasted
    8. An intoxicating aroma of smoke, licorice, earth, black cherry, orange rind, incense, limestone, truffles, fresh cut herbs, coffee bean and blackberry demand to get noticed. Deep in color, with visible glycerine in the tears that stain the glass, the wine offers fat layers of ripe, juicy, sweet, pure, black plum, blueberry, dark chocolate and spice. The wine continued to improve in the glass for at least 4 hours. It might have kept going, but I could not keep my hands off it. The delicious finish lasts for at least 45 seconds. While some tasters found this wine to be over the top when young, it's calmed down and offers a great, tasting experience. If you have multiple bottles, it's worth popping a bottle to see how 2003 Pavie is developing.

      97 points - Tasted
    9. Black cherry, blueberry, licorice, crushed stone, espresso and cherry liqueur get the perfume going. This potent elixir is rich, fat, round, and lush in the mouth. The powerful finish is filled with intense, ripe, licorice coated black and blue fruits. This exciting Bordeaux wine, does not show any signs of over ripeness that is found in some wines from this hot, dry vintage.

      97 points - Tasted
Pavie Perse Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Chateau Pavie Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The 42 hectare St. Emilion vineyard of Chateau Pavie is planted to 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This represents a change in the vineyard with less Merlot and more Cabernet Franc. In addition to replanting, trellis wires throughout the vineyard were raised in order to increase the vines’ foliage.

In total, the vineyard has 37 hectares under vine. The vineyard is one large block. That alone is almost unique in Saint Emilion, but more important to the wines character, here you find various different terroirs. Each has its own micro-climate.

You can divide the soils like this. You have 21 separate parcels that start on the top of the plateau which is where you find deep, limestone soils with clay. At the peak elevation, which is 110 meters, there is more deep, rich, clay in the sub soil.

From there, as you move from the peak and travel further down the slopes, you have more limestone with some clay. At the bottom of the hill, you find sand, clay and gravel soil. Perhaps the best terroir of the vineyard is located at the peak, just behind the chateau.

The vineyard is well placed, directly southeast of the village. You find Chateau Larcis Ducasse to the east and La Gaffeliere to the west. The terroir of Pavie does not promote early-ripening. In fact, Chateau Pavie is often one of the last Saint Emilion estates to finish harvesting. Pavie is also the largest of all the Premier Cru Classe A vineyards at 42 hectares.

The Chateau Pavie vineyard is farmed using sustainable, vineyard management techniques. Part of the goal at Chateau Pavie is to produce wine from ripe grapes and low yields. 70% of the vineyard is farmed using organic methods. It is the goal of the estate to become 100% organic.

To produce the wine of Chateau Pavie, it all starts with the severe level of selection. An initial sorting takes in the vineyards and again using optical sorting. For the vinification, the whole berries are moved by conveyor belt to oak tanks for crushing by gravity.

After a pre-fermentation cold maceration that can last for as long as 8 or 9 days at 8 degrees Celsius, there is a 36-day maceration. The wine is vinified in 20, temperature controlled, wood vats. The vats are often bled to increase concentration. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel.

The wine of Chateau Pavie is aged in 80% new, French oak barrels for 18 to months. The first 6 months, give or take of aging time are spent with the wine aging on its lees. The amount of new oak and time in the barrel will vary, depending on the characteristics of each Bordeaux vintage. There is a second wine, Aromes de Pavie. Chateau Pavie produces 8,000 cases of wine per year.

Chateau Pavie Character and Style

Chateau Pavie is a unique style of Bordeaux wine. The wine is deeply colored. In fact it's often opaque in the best years. Chateau Pavie is rich, filled with minerality and a special purity of fruit that only comes from the world's best wines.

It's mouth filling with its density, offering a fabulous intensity of flavors that often resemble plums, blackberry, truffle, chocolate, licorice, blueberry and spice, with minerality. Pavie pairs elegance with power and concentration with the ability to age and evolve for decades. In fact, Pavie is not a great wine to drink young. Chateau Pavie often requires more than 15 years of age to soften and develop its complexities.

The best vintages of Chateau Pavie are: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1998. Earlier vintages are produced in a much different style, think (classic Bordeaux), without the same ability for aging potential.

When to Drink Chateau Pavie, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau Pavie is much better with at least 12-15 years of aging in good vintages. Young vintages can be decanted for 3-4 hours, or more. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Chateau Pavie offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 15-40 years of age after the vintage.

Serving Chateau Pavie with Wine and Food Pairings

Chateau Pavie is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Chateau Pavie is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Pavie is also good when matched with Asian dishes, rich fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta.

The wine of Chateau Pavie sparks debates. Hopefully they are fun debates, but with wine involved, I've seen a few conversation become rather heated! Some tasters love the wine. Count me in that group. It is a favorite wine of Robert Parker. Other consumers do not enjoy the wine and prefer when it was made in a less ripe, thinner, less concentrated style.

My bet is, in time, when the Perse vintages have matured, the greatness of what Perse has accomplished at Pavie will be widely recognized. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, the efforts expended by Perse seems to have vindicated Perse and Parker because September 6, 2012 marked the day Chateau Pavie was upgraded in the official 2012 St. Emilion Classification to Chateau Pavie, St. Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classe A.

Starting with the 2010 vintage of Chateau Pavie, to protect consumers and fight counterfeits, every bottle and label from this vintage forward has a lock slip on the capsule with a unique code that matches up to the identical number of the bottle displaying the date the wine was bottled and labeled at Chateau Pavie. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For the 2012 vintage, to commemorate their promotion to Grand Cru Classe A status, Chateau Pavie introduced a new, sleek, quite artistically designed, regal looking label in gold and black, replacing the older, classic, green tinted design. Chateau Pavie returned to the standard label in subsequent vintages.