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Chateau Pavie 2006
Very pretty and precise on the nose, with vanilla, blackberry and floral aromas. Full-bodied, with firm tannins and a racy finish. A bit lean, but solid and well-structured. Best after 2012.
cropped low as the viticultural work is impeccable, the winemaking is thoroughly Burgundian in style, and bottling is accomplished with no fining or filtration. With over 90 acres in vine, this is one of the larger of the premier grand cru classes in St.-Emilion. A prodigious effort, the 2006 does not have the sucrosite of the 2005, 2003, or 2000, but it would not be embarrassed if tasted side by side with either of those two titans. A dense purple color as well as an extraordinary perfume of crushed black currants, licorice, wet stones, and subtle background oak are found in this tannic, dense, masculine-styled 2006. Backward and extraordinarily pure, it is built like a Manhattan skyscraper with exceptional focus, depth, texture, and length. It’s all here, but 5-10 years of patience will be warranted. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.
Always ripe, always velvety and dense in texture, Pavie's 2006 nevertheless also shows more structure and elegance than in the past few vintages. The result is a great wine, with smoky, rich fruit and a dense, concentrated core of sweet tannins, chocolate and fresh raspberry flavors. While it is seductive now, it really needs many years of aging.
Even in blind tastings, the superconcentrated, modern style of Pavie brings out the partisans. One taster described it as "a loudly dressed Liberace cuvée." Another praised its dark, floral fruit, depth and minerality. It is a great terroir, and if you appreciate new oak and deep, rich fruit, Pavie is fine and gracious in the 2006 vintage.
Since 1998, Chantal and Gérard Perse have owned this estate, which boasts the largest vineyard of all Premier Grand Cru Classés in Saint-Emilion. The old fermentation cellar has given way to twenty temperature-controlled wooden vats, and the quarries have been replaced by a modern aging cellar.
Stretching from the Andes to Patagonia, Argentina's unique terroir lends to high quality wines. Formerly associated with inexpensive bulk wine but dramatically shifting focus from quantity to quality, Argentina is the most important wine-producing country in South America. Certainly excellent values abound here still, but increases in vineyard investment, improved winery technology, and a commitment to innovation since the late 20th century have contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains can be used to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.
Mendoza, a large and famous region responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white. The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends but was susceptible to viticultural problems. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it did flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, but did not gain its current reputation as the national grape of Argentina until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century thanks to its easy-going drinkability.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of freshly turned earth, black fruits from berries to plums, and licorice, appropriately backed by dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, it can be quite intense and often needs time to mellow before becoming drinkable. In the Old World, its rusticity shines, with aged examples showing dusty notes of leather and tobacco. The best examples in all regions often possess a beguiling bouquet of violets.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.