Chateau Pavie 2001 (review)

80 points
St-Emilion, Bordeaux 2001

tasted: May 2006.

This is the controversial chateaux of Bordeaux with the 2003 vintage pitching Clive Coates, Jancis Robinson and other (English) critics against Robert Parker. Parker is a great fan of this Chateau in recent years. Known for a big ripe style, in 2003 (the ripest vintage ever) Coates and others described it as undrinkable while Parker continued to lavish praise.

From this I decided Pavie probably wasn’t a wine for me, but seeing this 2001 vintage (a very good, and not super ripe vintage) on discount in a French supermarket I decided to take the plunge for intellectual purposes at least. Actually I was expecting a very big ripe plummy wine, a bit over-the-top, but enjoyable for once at least.

But what we got was an over-extracted dumb ultra- ripe wine. Ripe flavours that go beyond fruit-cake plummy merlot, with no attack, no grace. Plenty of dumb ripe tannins too. Anne hated it immediately, and she normally likes St.Emilion wines and knew nothing of its reputation, all I’d told her was the price (89 Euros – discounted but still expensive).

It reminded me of dull, dumb cabernets from California, South Africa, and Barossa Australia. But in this case at a much higher price.

Now regardless of his critics Parker seems a fairly competent winetaster; his ratings of Bordeaux usually correlate highly with other critics – but his strong support for Pavie makes one wonder if all he is rating with other Bordeaux wine is their concentration and ripeness (and price).

That said, I’ve just found this Oct 2007 (i.e. after mine) review by Jancis Robinson of the 2001.  She is far more complementary than I, giving it 17.5 points (out of 20).  Though we concur on the style of the wine:

“Richly enveloping nose. Borderline overripeness. Hot chocolate! Thick and sweet and sort of carved out of stone. Quite porty but with some freshness of fruit. Exaggerated but pleasurable. Drying tannins on the finish. Pretty luscious.”

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