Growing up in a wine-loving family, I learned that patience makes great wines. My great uncle had an apartment in New York that was covered wall-to-wall in empty bottles of Bordeaux Grand Cru, but he was the most proud of his dust-covered collection of 40-year-old wines that he had yet to drink. I own one 20-year-old bottle from his “museum,” and I don’t plan on uncorking it for another 10 years at least. Wine hoarding is just in my blood!
That’s why the 2000 Chateau Pavie is my idea of a perfect wine: it’s more than 15 years old, but it’s still in its adolescence. Early estimates give this Bordeaux wine blend an incredible 40 more years of cellaring before it starts to sour, so if you’re looking for a wine to last you for the rest of your life, or to lay down for one of your children, the 2000 Pavie should be one of your first choices.
Evolving at a Glacial Pace
In a world where 90 percent of all wines are ready to drink right away, there’s something satisfying and otherworldly about a wine that can live to 50 years old or more. Robert Parker gave the 2000 Pavie a perfect score not only for its taste, but for its pure promise. He says the Bordeaux wine blend is “just beginning to strut its enormous potential; this wine at age 15 has been evolving like a glacier.”
What makes this wine so slow to age? To start, winemakers held the wine in barrels nine months later than usual, waiting to bottle it until March 2003. After spending more than three years in barrels, the ultra-ripe fruit developed a tight flavor that makes it a bit difficult to drink in its youth. Most of the vintage’s success comes down to Gerard Perse, who bought and renovated the estate that year. His laser focus on ripe grapes and firm tannins gave this wine a fighting chance to make it past the half-century mark.
Pavie’s First Legendary Vintage
Many critics ate humble pie after they found out how successful Pavie’s 2000 vintage was. Before release, new owner Gerard Perse declared the wine to be of legendary quality owing to his complete renovation of the cellars and careful tending of the vines. Some critics thought he was being arrogant, but when the wine was finally released on the market, one critic gushed, “Life is too short not to own and consume the 2000 Pavie.”
Pavie’s 2000 vintage seems somewhat unassuming on paper, yet when you taste it, you understand why collectors buy it by the caseful. It is a typical Bordeaux wine blend combining 60 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Franc, and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, but unlike more plentiful vintages, 2000’s yields were as low as 28 hectoliters per hectare. This resulted in just 7,500 cases, making it an especially rare wine for Pavie. In addition, the weather in Bordeaux at the time ranged from drought-like as the grapes matured to slightly wet and cold at harvest. Like most wines grown under these conditions, the 2000 Pavie has an absurdly long finish. Critics say the finish lasts more than a full minute and displays a complex range of flavors they’ve never experienced with Pavie blends.
The vintage marked the start of a new golden era for Pavie that has continued to this day.
More Pavie Vintages to Consider
As one of Saint-Emilion’s oldest orchards, first cultivated in the 4th Century, Pavie is a highly-collectible estate, but before 2000, the estate’s goals were different. If you come across a 1999 Pavie or earlier, you’ll find a finessed, fine wine. Most of these earlier wines don’t age much longer than a decade or two because Pavie’s winemakers believed that less ripe fruit would result in better wine. The exception to the rule is 1999 Decesse, which Robert Parker notes had a more concentrated flavor than usual for Pavie. I recommend investing in both the 1999 and the 2000 to compare the way they age over the next 10 years.
Generally, if you’re looking for a wine that will last, you’ll want to stick with any vintage after Perse took over, including the 2003, 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2015. The 2005 in particular is a great option if you can’t find the 2000 vintage, since Perse claims that the 2005 is of even higher quality than the 2000. To invest in the 2005, you’ll have to be prepared to keep at least one bottle for as long as 100 years. It’s rare for a wine to have century-long potential, but if any vintage can do it, it’s the 2005 Pavie. The 2010 vintage will likely be shorter-lived than the 2005, yet Robert Parker adds that this is still saying a lot. He explains, “Of course, it’s five years old, but it tastes more like a just-bottled barrel sample than a 2010.” These three vintages have put Pavie on the map as a creator of incredibly concentrated bottles that will truly stand the test of time.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.