April 1996, Score: 90-91
The 1995 reveals a similar style to the 1994, with an even more opaque purple color, and more evidence of new oak in the wine’s toasty, black fruit-scented nose. Extremely concentrated and ripe, with low acidity and high tannin, this dense, broodingly backward wine will have 20 years of longevity. Much like the 1994, it will require patience. For statisticians, Pavie-Macquin is a blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.As I have reported previously, this biodynamically-farmed vineyard has some of the lowest yields in Bordeaux because of the extremely old age of the vines. This wine has come of age since the late eighties and is consistently one of the finest wines produced in St.-Emilion. In addition to its powerful, old style, it has another advantage – the presence of world-class oenologist Michel Rolland. The style is comparable to the intensely-concentrated, structured wines of the famous Pomerol estate, Lafleur.All of the wines in this segment were tasted between March 19 and March 28 in Bordeaux. Most of the important wines from both the 1994 and 1995 vintages were tasted three separate times during my ten-day stay in Bordeaux. Drink: 1996-2016.
This well-situated estate, with a high percentage of old vines and uncompromising biodynamic viticultural practices, represents a wine that could be called the Chateau Lafleur of St.-Emilion. These are powerful, backward, tannic wines that should be purchased by those with the discipline, patience, and the requisite youthfulness to wait 10-12 years for them to round into shape. Because of their severity, these wines can be admired more than enjoyed, but their impressive old vine core of fruit, and extraordinary purity and ripeness are noteworthy. The 1995 offers the same scenario – plenty of pure, black-raspberry, cherry, floral-scented fruit with a touch of minerals. There is fine power, extract, and old vine intensity, but mouthsearing tannin levels make for a wine that can be admired, but one that is difficult to cuddle up to. This wine could turn out to be outstanding, or it could dry out. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.
The 1995 offers plenty of pure, black-raspberry, cherry, floral-scented fruit with a touch of minerals. There is fine power, extract, and old vine intensity, but mouthsearing tannin levels make for a wine that can be admired, but one that is difficult to cuddle up to. This wine could turn out to be outstanding, or it could dry out. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025. Last tasted 11/97.
Made in a style similar to the 1996, the 1995 reveals copious quantities of black fruits, obvious old vine intensity (note the minerals and deep mid-palate), but mouthsearing levels of tannin will only be enjoyed by masochists. There are many good things about this wine, but the elevated tannin level is cause for concern. If the tannin melts away and the fruit holds, this will be an outstanding effort. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2025. I don’t think you have to be a gambler to purchase this wine, but the question mark does suggest a level of aggressive tannin that makes forecasting fraught with peril. This is an exceptionally powerful, uncompromising, classic, old style Bordeaux that should age for three decades or more. The only questions are: (1) to what degree will the tannin melt away, and (2) how much fruit will remain? No one can doubt the seriousness or concentration of this wine, but its tannin level is cause for concern.
Château Pavie Macquin
One of the few châteaux in Bordeaux that is biodynamically farmed, Pavie Macquin has long beenone of the top wines of St Emilion which aficionados liken to Lafleur of Pomerol. It is managed bythe ultra dynamic Nicolas Thienpont who uses oenologists Michel Rolland and StéphaneDerononcourt as his right hand men.
St Emilion, Red Bordeaux
South of Pomerol lies the medieval, perched village of St Emilion. Surrounding St Emilion are vines that produce round, rich and often hedonistic wines. Despite a myriad of soil types, two main ones dominate – the gravelly, limestone slopes that delve down to the valley from the plateau and the valley itself which is comprised of limestone, gravel, clay and sand. Despite St Emilion’s popularity today, it was not until the 1980s to early 1990s that attention was brought to this region. Robert Parker, the famous wine critic, began reviewing their Merlot-dominated wines and giving them hefty scores. The rest is history as they say. Similar to the Médoc, there is a classification system in place which dates from 1955 and outlines several levels of quality. These include its regional appellation of St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, which is further divided into “A” (Ausone and Cheval Blanc) and “B” (including Angélus, Canon, Figeac and a handful of others). To ensure better accuracy, the classification is redone every 10 years enabling certain châteaux to be upgraded or downgraded depending on on the quality of their more recent vintages.