Text: Ivy Tsang
Situated on a limestone plateau at St Emilion, Bordeaux right bank, Chateau Pavie Decesse (Pavie Decesse) doesn’t just share a similar name with Chateau Pavie (Pavie), but also the common owners and similar terroir.
Before 1855, they were actually part of the same winery until one day, the famous Bordeaux négociant Ferdinand Bouffard bought Pavie, separated the vineyards into two and managed individually. The 3.5 hectares detached from Pavie became Chateau Pavie Pigasse (the previous name of Pavie Decesse). During the time when phyllozera brutally devastated the vineyards, Bouffard struggled and soon after the First World War, he sold both the Pavie and Pavie Decesse to Albert Porte, who then sold them to Alexander Valette. In the 50s, Pavie Decesse was sold to the Marzelle family.
Marzelle family put a lot of effort in the vineyard management and wine making. In 1955, Pavie Decesse earned the title of St Emilion Grand Cru Classe (GCC). After the death of her husband in 1970, Madamn Marzelle delegated the operation of Pavie Decesse to the Valette family, who was the owner of Pavie and Troplong Mondot. In 1990, Pavie Decesse was finally sold to the Valette family. The ownership of both the Pavie and Pavie Decesse was again in one hand, though not for long. In 1997, the Parian millionaire Gerard Perse bought Pavie Decesse, who was already the owner of Monbousequet since 1993. He then purchased Pavie in 1998.
Perse spends a lot of modernise the vineyard and wine making, which brings huge improvement to the quality of wines of Pavie and Pavie Decesse. His effort was proved by the promotion of Pavie from Premier GCC B to Premier GCC A in 2012. Only 4 wineries have the privilege.
Pavie Decesse, though still a GCC, shares not just the similar terroir, but also the same wine making team with Pavie. Depending on the vintage, the normal cepage is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The quality can be ascertained, especially when it is shown by the rating.
Bordeaux 2008 was in general a cooler vintage, however, with the extremely late, yet risky, harvest applied, the Pavie Decesse 2008 is powerful, rich, intense with black fruits, toasty oaky, spices and “chalk-like minerality (a hallmark of this vineyard)”, (Robert Parker, 2011). According to Robert Parker, the drinking window can last till 2035.
With such a small vineyard when compared to Pavie, I do not think that the Pavie Decesse will be promoted to Premier GCC B. However, I am really happy to pay half the price of Pavie to enjoy Pavie Decesse, which has the same wine making team, similar terroir and even ratings!