The skies were clear and a warm evening sun bathed the vast upper terrace of the newly opened cellars of Pavie, Gerard & Chantel Perse welcomed those lucky enough to have secured a private invitation and Cult Wines were honoured to have been included on the guest list.
Having passed by the estate some 5 hours earlier it was amusing to watch the last minute preparations as dozens of workman scurried around finishing various jobs as the deadline loomed! By 7pm it was ready to welcome the guests, a tour of the vast cellars set on two levels was quite breath-taking, classical design with some modern twists including some dramatic artwork, very impressive visually and I am sure it makes practical sense as well.
Onto the terrace for a Champagne reception with a jazz band to be followed by 6 courses of superbly presented food matched with the Monbousquet 2010 white, Pavie 1998 & 2000 vintages finished with a 1988 Doisy Daene Sauternes.
Our entertainment consisted of that French theatrical classic, mime supported by a ‘troupe’ of jugglers, singers and finally having been coaxed onto the rear terrace we were treated to a dramatic show ‘drive-in movie style of the Perse story.
It would be interesting to understand the overall cost of this project, it clearly fits well with the Classé A status granted last year and no doubt places this estate on a different plane to much of competition. It is also interesting to compare the final results with those of Château Cheval Blanc who opted for a much more modernistic design, and ignites the debate on what style is more acceptable to the local environment. Whatever the outcome of that debate there is surely one question which is on everyone’s lips, and that is who will ultimately be paying for these grand edifices rising out of the modest St Emilion soil?
One final comment is that I personally admire and enjoy the Pavie style of doing things, the wine is in my humble opinion quite sensational, but here again Gerard Perse has divided opinion just look at the spat between Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker over the infamous 2003! But this has become part of the story, Pavie and Perse have arrested the attention of the wine world over the past few years and regardless of your personal preferences, I doubt that these beautiful new cellars will divide opinion so dramatically!