One of the most promising vineyard sites in the entire St Emilion appellation lies just to the southeast of the town where, on the edge of the St Christophe plateau, we find a beautiful south-facing slope of limestone and clay. Although this slope continues to the east for some distance, and there are in fact many châteaux taking advantage of it, this first section nearest the town is completely dominated by Château Pavie. This is of course the Côte de Pavie, and the château of the same name, so recently refurbished by proprietor Gérard Perse, sits proud in the mid-slope position, a glittering icon of marble and gilt, an island in a surging sea of green vines.
So dramatic is the new Château Pavie it is all too easy to overlook the diminutive and rather pretty ‘doll’s house’ château that sits just above it, on the edge of the plateau. But this domaine has long been worthy of our attention, as everything about it suggested it should have a great reputation. To start with, this is a coveted position on the edge of the plateau, similar to that enjoyed by some of the greatest names of the appellation, such as Château Ausone or Château Belair-Monange, which are not that far away; if you follow the contours of the Côte de Pavie round towards the town these two châteaux soon come into view, on the opposite side of the valley. It was also much smaller than Château Pavie, so the vineyard was amenable to micro-management, perhaps akin to the work at Le Dôme or Château Lafleur, where vineyards are tended as if they are gardens. Lastly, since 1997 this little estate has been in the hands of a very wealthy proprietor, one who has the financial ability to invest in this domaine. And the identity of this proprietor? It is of course the aforementioned Gérard Perse.
Indeed, following Gérard Perse’s acquisition of this property there was much investment here; the château (pictured above) received a make-over, and the adjacent chai was completely refurbished. The wines, however, remained firmly overshadowed by those of Château Pavie, both in terms of quality and also price (although these were still very expensive bottles). Perhaps this explains why, in 2022, the Perse family eventually gave up on Château Pavie-Decesse; the property effectively ceased to exist, its small nubbin of vineyards absorbed into those of its more prestigious neighbour. Accepting that it may no longer lives as an independent entity, this profile puts this estate, including its story up to the moment it ceased to be, along with its vineyards and wines, right up to its final vintage, under the spotlight.