The Effect of the 2012 Classification of Saint-Émilion – Pavie, Perse and Prices

Lately the wine world has been abuzz with the news of the reclassification of Saint-Émilion châteaux. But what might the upgrade of Pavie and Angélus mean for the wine market as a whole? At present prices for wines from these châteaux stand substantially lower than the other Premiers Grands Crus Classés ‘A’ heavyweights Ausone and Cheval Blanc. Can such a disparity in price exist in a single category? Or could we see a narrowing of this gap over time?

Gérard Perse, owner of Château Pavie, has addressed this question head-on, stating,

“The move up to ‘A’ will no doubt increase the value [of our wines]… but it would be wrong to hurt our loyal customers, and a heresy, to put our prices to the level of a Cheval Blanc or an Ausone. Consumers would not understand if the price went up fourfold in a year.”

Nevertheless, the upgrade of Gérard Perse’s Pavie could cement its place as one of Bordeaux’s finest châteaux. This reputation was contested in the infamous skirmish between critics Robert M. Parker, Jr. (a pro-Pavie partisan) and Jancis Robinson over the 2003 vintage, an inkling of which you can view on the latter’s website. But as vintages of the powerfully styled wine mature and as more vintages are made under Perse’s direction, critical opinion is beginning to shine more favourably on his wines. While there will be no winning over some people, Pavie’s upgrade could encourage further acceptance into the Bordeaux elite, not forgetting further prominence in the Asian market, in time justifying higher prices for its wine.

But let’s take a broader view. Here at Provenance, Pavie’s 2000 vintage has been a reference point as the least expensive mature Bordeaux given a perfect 100 points by Robert Parker. As such it has been an indicator of where the cornucopia of 100-point ‘Super Seconds’ from the 2009 vintage (and those yet-to-be-confirmed from the 2010 vintage) could go over time. If the market is willing to pay more for Pavie’s wines following its reclassification, might we have to revise this lower estimate?

As ever in the world of fine wine, only time will tell.


Leave a Reply