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Wine Critic Reviews for 1996 Beychevelle
(Château Beychevelle) In an age of global warming, the 1996 vintage may have produced the last great Beychevelle under thirteen percent alcohol, as this wine tips the scales at a very, very civilized 12.8 percent. This is a deep, pure and very classic vintage of Beychevelle and it will take plenty of time to come around. The stunning nose offers up a beautiful mélange of roasted cherries, dark berries, cigar smoke, fresh herbs, coffee, gravelly soil tones that show a bit of iron inflection and a bit of remaining cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and laser-like in its focus, with a rock solid core of pure fruit, a great expression of terroir, ripe, moderate tannins, sound acids and outstanding length and grip on the still quite youthful finish. The 1996 Beychevelle offers up superb potential, but it will need at least another decade in the cellar to start to stir. (Drink between 2021-2075)
John Gilman | 94 JG
John Gilman | 94 JG
Wine Details on 1996 Beychevelle
|Producer||Chateau Pavie: The slopes of Chateau Pavie were first cultivated during the time of the ancient Romans in the 4th century AD, making this illustrious estate one of the eldest in the world. However, Pavie would not garner attention until almost two thousand years later when the Robert Parker of the day, Cocks et Ferret highly praised the estate. Cocks et Ferret authored Bordeaux et Ses Vins (Wines of Bordeaux) which was considered the “Bordeaux Bible” of that era. This highly regarded publication released in the 1850’s was already high on the wines of Pavie; naming it one of the First Classed Growths in Saint Emilion. Paradoxically, this ancient estate would eventually earn a reputation for its extremely modernist approach to winemaking. |
The history of Chateau Pavie is a long and winding road that incorporates Pavie Decesse and Pavie Macquin, as well as some of the most highly regarded winemakers and growers in the history of Bordeaux. In 1885, Ferdinand Bouffard arrived at Chateau Pavie, bringing with him an energetic and determined desire to swell the property holdings. He managed to piece together a 50-hectare parcel with an annual production that ranged from 12,500 to 15,000 cases. Bouffard’s ambitious efforts proved fruitful and Chateau Pavie had become one of the largest estates in the Right Bank.
Very near the 1900s, Bouffard decided to separate the vineyard, creating two entirely separate estates. This was the birth of Chateau Pavie Decesse. Also at this time in the estate’s history, the Macquin family were busy purchasing parcels of vineyards in the appellation. These purchases led to the creation of Chateau Pavie Macquin. At the end of the First World War and beyond, the estate would endure a change of hands, beginning with the sale of the property to Albert Porte, who eventually sold the vineyard to the highly popular Valette family and well-known Bordeaux negociants from Paris.
During the Valette family’s tenure, Chateau Pavie would be classified as Premier Grand Cru Classe B. This popular family was also in possession of the grand Chateau of Troplong Mondot at the time and were recognized as highly driven and accomplished. They would oversee the property, elevating its status among Saint Emilion estates until 1998, when it was purchased by Gerard Perse for a whopping 31 million dollars. He was well-known for his extremely ambitious nature, dedicated efforts in increasing quality and his “spare no expense” attitude. Under the tutelage of Gerard Perse, Chateau Pavie would experience a rebirth, bringing the estate into the modern era.
Perse would hastily begin renovations to the chateau, cellars and extensive replanting of the vineyard to reach the proper level of vine density. Other parcels on the property were re-cultivated (parcels that were not currently being used for cultivation) of which 25% of the vineyard demanded extensive work. He insisted that a lot has changed over the past decade and that his efforts would be exhausted in order to keep up with the times. Determined to increase the size of the vineyard, Perse would acquire 2.5 hectares, when the vines of Chateau La Clusiere were incorporated into Chateau Pavie, an integration that was authorized by INAO, which is the French organization charged with regulating agricultural products with protected designations of origin. Another vineyard increase occurred when a small portion of the Pavie Decesse vineyards were merged into Chateau Pavie, swelling the estate by 6 hectares and decreasing Pavie Decesse from 9.5 hectares to 3.5 hectares.
Today, the 42-hectare estate of Chateau Pavie, 37 hectares of which are under vine are planted to 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is one large block, which is almost unique in Saint Emilion but more importantly is the diversity of the terroir, where an array of soils and micro-climates present unique characteristics of each area of the vineyard. The single block vineyard, located on a plateau that reaches an elevation of 110 meters, is divided into 21 separate parcels. The terroir varies between deep, rich clay in the subsoil of the plateau, with sand, clay and gravel soil present near the bottom of the hill. The greatest terroir of the vineyard, perhaps, is located at the peak just behind the chateau where the vines are old, averaging close to 50 years of age. The sloping terrain greatly enhances drainage, allowing the vines to prosper in the rich soil.
Chateau Pavie has an annual production of 8,000 cases. It is recognized as a unique style of Bordeaux wine; rich, filled with minerality and a special purity of fruit that only comes from the world’s best wines. It is a tremendously built wine that should reach its peak maturity between 15-40 years of age after the vintage. The long and winding history of Chateau Pavie has had an incredible path leading towards its now greatly recognized reputation and quality. It is said that Gerard Perse was overcome with emotion when his chateau was awarded Premier Grand Cru Classe A in 2012. This grand estate has risen to the top echelon of not only Saint Emilion, but all of Bordeaux.
|Region||Bordeaux: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice. |
The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
|Country||France: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world. |
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
|Type of Wine||Bordeaux Red: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red|
|Varietal||Red Bordeaux Blend: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region. |
Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.
For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.
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