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Bordeaux 2015: Château Pavie et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0939Vignobles Perse have produced a bevy of excellent St Emilions in 2015 culminating with an extremely powerful and wonderfully polished Château Pavie. It is exceptional. But the entire range here is extremely impressive this year. Château Monbousquet has concentration and lush fruit tones, Château Lusseau [close to Monbousquet and owned by Pavie’s technical director] is textured and complete. Château Pavie Decesse is full of flamboyant, glossy, textured fruit and has very considerable power. And Bellevue-Mondotte is a seductive beauty. There is plenty of weight and saturation across the range, but there is also a degree of freshness too and nothing tips the scales for me. These are extremely impressive wines.

There is an air of seriousness and ambition at Château Pavie. It reflects the determination of owner Gérard Perse. It’s no small achievement that in twenty or so years since he bought Pavie in 1998, his investment has taken the property to the very top. In 2012 the property broke into the exalted ranks of the St Emilion ‘A’ team of Premier Grand Cru Classés, joining Cheval Blanc and Ausone, alongside other promotee, Château Angélus. If the super concentrated style of Pavie has at times been criticised, there can be no doubting the seriousness of the intention, the heavy investment, nor the scale of the achievement here. On the basis of the past few vintages, I’ve become a believer.


Pavie 2015 is extremely concentrated, but there is a freshness and the wine remains surprisingly nimble, despite the concentration and evident structure.  There is a plush, lush quality to the fruit, and while there is so much matter and tannin, the tannins themselves are ripe and silky. It’s a remarkable effort and yet it manages to represents the 2015 vintage very well. It’s more confirmation that this vintage is surely the most exciting here since 2010 – and for me even more flamboyant and beautiful at primeurs than that lovely vintage.

Lying above Pavie, Grand Cru Classé, Château Pavie-Decesse is situated on the limestone plateau. This is a small 3.65ha vineyard 85 metres in altitude that once formed part of Pavie itself as recently as the late  nineteenth century. Merlot is the dominant grape variety in the blend [it differs from Pavie where 40% of the blend is made up by the Cabernets]. Bellevue-Mondotte comes from a small 2.5 hectare enclave within Pavie-Decesse. The site again is particularly suited to Merlot with an average age of 50 years. Yields are very low [20hl/ha] and production is extremely limited [5000 bottles each year]. After an extended maceration, malolactic fermentation is undertaken in barrel, with extended lees contact. Overall the wine spends spends two years in new oak – pretty much de rigueur for all the top blends here.

Château Monsbouquet is not close to Pavie geographically but lies off the D670 that runs parallel to the town of St Emilion, situated some five hundred metres or so from its southern slopes. The vineyard is on gravel and sandy clay soils. It was Gérard Perse’s first purchase in St Emilion [1993]. It quickly made a reputation for producing headline grabbing St Emilion. It was promoted to St Emilion Grand Cru Classé in 2006. The 2015 is impressive. It has plenty of extract and depth, without being overdone. It is much more exciting than the wine made here in 2014.

The following wines were tasted on Wednesday 6th April, 2016 at Chateau Pavie.

Angélique de Monbousquet, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated colour; colour tight to the rim; ripe and voluptuous nose; little jam; attractive; olives; black fruits; nicely textured; chew on the palate with some minerality; stones; some cherry fruit on the finish; good stuff. [60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38hl/ha, 14.3% alc, 3.76pH, 3.16TA, aged in 100% one year old oak]. 89-91+

Arômes de Pavie, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated look; colour tight to the rim; quite seductive; violet lift; black fruits; nicely interwoven oak; provençale olives; spices; depth; lots of material; quite elegant mid palate; nice chew and sap on the finish. Olives and black fruits on the finish. Length. [66% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.3% alc, 36hl/ha, pH3.73, TA 3.18 50% new oak]. Drink 2021-2030. 91-93+

Château Lusseau, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep core of colour; saturated look; attractive nose; complexity; layers; sophisticated nose; plums, spices; some darker fruit tones and olives; nice texture on the palate; plenty of extract; nicely handled; little oak to integrate. Not flamboyant but has concentration and texture. Property of Pavie’s technical director. [70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35hl/ha, 13.8% lc, TA 3.35 pH 3.72 60% new oak]. Drink 2020-2030. 91-93+

Château Monbousquet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated; reddish edge; opaque centre; ripe black fruits and spices; glossy; polished; lifted aromatics; some dark chocolate and mocha tones too; very integrated though; lush entry; nice texture again; compact but plenty going on; nicer balance here in 2015; much better wine than 2014 – still serious but more ripeness and greater generosity on the mid-palate – and not overdone on the finish. Excellent stuff. [60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon 35hl/ha, 14.5% alc, TA 3.25, pH3.78 70% new oak]. Drink 2020-2035. 92-94+

Château Pavie Decesse, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé

Deep and saturated look; ripe fruit aromas; nice lift; black fruits and spices; glossy and attractive; rich entry; black fruits; plenty of matter but some elegance in the middle; nice matter and texture; plenty of matter infact. Needs time. Lots of material and body with plenty of glycerine and texture. Excellent length too. Wow! Big but works well. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 18hl/ha, 14.65% alc, TA 3.32, pH 3.66 100% new oak]. Drink 2023-2035. 95-97+

Bellevue Mondotte, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated colour; legs; rich looking; very ripe lifted black fruits; glossy and seductive; sweet attack; plenty of fruit – glossy and creamy; textured fruit but with soft tannins; a certain elegance too; new oak influence on the palate but plenty of length; little chew at the back; sweet matter that is concentrated. [90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.7% alc, 20hl/ha, TA 3.50, pH 3.60, 100% new oak]. Drink 2022-2032. 96-98+

Château Pavie, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, ‘A’

Deep and saturated colour; dark; tight to the rim; sweet ripe black fruits; intense but also has a beauty; layers; very plush; some mocha notes; very focused seam of fruit on the palate; concentrated but not in the least jammy; this is excellent. Lovely focus on the palate; real concentration but precise; structure and depth; lots of length on the palate; very long indeed. [60% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% alc, 36 hl/ha, TA 3.50 pH 3.72 80% new oak]. Drink 2025-2040. 96-100

Château Monbousquet Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc

Silver/with flecks of green; pear drops, candy; lees; attractive; palate tight with nice lees influence; perhaps lacks a bit of zip; but attractive. [60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon, 5% Muscadelle, 13.3% alc, 50% new oak, 38hll/ha, TA 3.28, pH 3.42]. Drink 2017-2024. 90-92+


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