Five Vintages of Château Pavie, 2017

The potential of the Côte de Pavie, the broad south-facing slope of limestone that stretches out eastwards from the town of St Emilion, has been recognised for centuries, and planted with vines for just as long. Nearly two hundred years ago it was Pierre-Adolphe Pigasse, a doctor and author, who ruled here, the vineyard in his possession the origin not only of Château Pavie but also Château Larcis Ducasse. Today the most prominent name in this corner of the appellation is the proprietor of the first of these two estates, Gérard Perse, a man whose efforts and influence has seen Château Pavie elevated in 2012 to the exalted rank of premier grand cru classé, level A.

Château Pavie

The style here is divisive. These are huge wines that do not appeal to all palates. The grapes are clearly very ripe when harvested, the definition of the fruit flavours often fading into something smudged and diffuse; these are wines of cherry-fruit flavour, but degraded and macerated cherries, or baked cherry pie, rather than the crunchy bite of a cherry freshly plucked from the tree. In some respects, however, the wines of Château Pavie can be regarded as restrained, as some other wines in St Emilion do go further, moving into caramelised fruit flavours, or even raisin. Indeed, some other wines in the Perse portfolio, such as Château Pavie-Decesse and Château Bellevue-Mondotte, can sometimes look like this, but in recent vintages I feel the foot has been taken off the ripeness-pedal a little, with Château Pavie at least. The tannins, meanwhile, are frequently massive and dominating, the technical director Laurent Lusseau clearly not afraid of extraction, and in its youth the wine is always wrapped in the coffee, praline and charred aromas of high-toast oak.

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