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This is a stunner, with the warmth of the vintage marrying ideally with the relative coolness of the terroir to deliver a wide range of vivid plum, boysenberry, raspberry and cherry paste flavors that have energy and drive, carried by a long graphite note and backed by a roasted apple wood accent that has been fully absorbed. Powerfully ripe, but not heady, with a sense of poise through the finish. A jaw-dropper.
Certainly this was a wine born under considerable controversy, receiving accolades and kudos from me and several of my American colleagues, but generally excoriated by the British press. The French wine critics were very positive. This wine has calmed down considerably as it was a blockbuster, somewhat of a Bordeaux fruit bomb in its youth, and now has toned itself down to a serious candidate for one of the wines of this rather bizarre, but interesting, vintage. 2003 offered everything, from pathetically dilute and thin wines to some massive blockbusters. That was true especially in the Northern Médoc and from the limestone hillsides of St.-Emilion (where Pavie is situated). The color is a dark garnet, with a touch of amber beginning to appear on the edge. The wine has a stunning nose of roasted herbs, grilled meats, charcoal, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, with some oak still present. Dense, full-bodied and very succulent and lush, this wine seems to be in late adolescence, ready to enter a relatively mature stage. There is always a suspicion because of the extreme heat in July and August that these wines will crack up very quickly, and certainly that will always be a worry, but this one looks set for at least another 10-15 years of drinkability. Drink from 2015-2030
Established on the splendid “Côte Pavie”, the vineyard of Château Pavie was planted by the roman in the 4th century who first saw the incredible potential of this terroir. The history of the property goes back to 1850 when the Pimpinelle estate was owned by Mr Fayard and Mr Chapus who, thanks to their work, managed to obtain a gold medal at the Paris World Fair.
Less than ten years later, it was bequeathed to Ferdinand Bouffard, a Bordeaux merchant who, in twenty years, managed to build up a 50-hectare estate by buying up several properties. Just after the war, it was bought by Albert Porte when Ferdinand Bouffard passed away. By unifying the properties of Mr. Bouffard, he created Château Pavie (The name comes from a particularly sweet and juicy peach variety that was growing on the slope).
Alexandre Valette took over in 1943 and succeeded in raising it to the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé B in 1955. His grandson, who had taken over in 1957, sold it to Gérard Perse in 1998 who is still the owner today. Thanks to major investments in both the vineyard and the cellar and to additional work towards maturity and precision, the latter managed to raise his estate to the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” during the revision of the classification of Saint-Emilion wines in 2012.
The magnificence of Château Pavie comes from its exceptional terroir (37 hectares planted in one block) made of limestone, clay and sand-clay, with over 80 meters of altitude variation offering a multitude of micro-terroir, with mostly south exposure, where the typical grape varieties of the right bank (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) achieve perfect maturity.
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