When your wine-fuelled, midnight shopping arrives by 11am the next morning, you know you live in an age of instant gratification. From fast fashion to fast wines, we have developed an insane cult for speed. Château Pavie, however, is about slowing things down.
The Saint-Émilion estate has one clear vision: to make wines that can age a long time. They’re not trying to be available at every wine bistro or hotel lobby in every major city. Theirs is not a business of chasing trends. In fact, they don’t seem to be craving the attention of oenophiles.
“We don’t try to be a fashionable winery,” says Philippe Develay, executive director of Château Pavie.
“It is nice to wait (to enjoy wine).”
Shaping the perfect vineyard, after all, did not come easy. The Pavie estate was in shambles before owner Gérard Perse bought over the land in 1998. “Then, the winery was not in great shape. We had at that time 30,000 missing vines,” shares Develay.
The terroir it is today gives Château Pavie wines their balanced profile — a combination of big, powerful wines from a slope made from clay and limestone, and delicate elegant wines from the limestone plateau lined with mineral soil. Château Pavie was classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine in 2012.
“Pavie (wines) have fantastic ageing potential because of our terroir,” says Develay. The estate also practises soft extractions in their wine-making process.
“We don’t try to be a fashionable winery… It is nice to wait (to enjoy wine).”
– Philippe Develay, executive director of Château Pavie
“The first thing is to harvest early. We don’t like overripe grapes that will give high alcohol levels,” says Develay. “Too much alcohol changes the wine; you don’t taste fruit or terroir anymore.”
Having the right amount of tannins is also key. “Tannins give structure to the wine. If we don’t have enough tannins, then you don’t have a wine with ageing potential,” shares Develay. “But if you have too much, the wine becomes difficult to drink in the first 10 years.”
Take the 1998 Pavie. “It’s a wine that has seamless tannins. You have flavours of black fruit still, after 20 years. There is no trace of oxidation,” says Devaley. And its beauty lies in how this wine continues to give. Wait another 20 years, and the flavours shift to show less black fruits, and more forest earth.
Says Develay: “I am used to drinking old wines. (At Château Pavie), we have a wine, we have a tradition and we have a unique terroir.”
“We are not changing the wine to fit trends and be loved quickly.”