Chateau Pavie owner Gerard Perse has slammed critics of his 2003 as ‘insulting and malicious’.

The 2003 en primeur offering of Pavie, the St Emilion chateau that the controversial entrepreneur took over in 1997, generated extraordinary levels of personal abuse from some of the most eminent critics in the world.

The chief protagonists, Robert Parker and UK critic Jancis Robinson, waged a short, intense war of words in the international press earlier this month. Robinson called the wine ‘ridiculous’ and compared it unfavourably to late-harvest zinfandel.

Parker labelled Robinson ‘nasty’ and ‘reactionary’. The rest of the wine world, including Steven Spurrier, Clive Coates, established UK merchants and other eminences grises waded in. The majority backed Robinson with a minority siding with Parker.

Now Perse, who also owns Chateaux Monbousquet, Pavie-Decesse and Bellevue-Mondotte, and Clos l’Eglise and another property in Côtes de Castillon, has circulated an impassioned three-page letter putting forward his case.

‘Never did I imagine that trying to make the best wines possible could elicit such virulent criticism and even vicious personal attacks…to portray those who enjoy my wines as “imbeciles” is insulting and malicious and has no place in contemporary wine criticism.’

Perse says it is wrong to pillory him for using techniques such as malolactic fermentation in barrel which are perfectly acceptable in Burgundy and other established wine regions. He lists other techniques – cold fermentation, long maceration, intensive reduction of yields – all of which produce ripe, extracted, high alcohol, fruit-forward wines.

He denounces ‘English’ wine critics as reactionary, suggesting some ‘would have us go back … to a time when they feel Bordeaux wines were made the way they should be.’

Finally, he points out that although accused of making wines to please Robert Parker, at the Grand Jury Europeen blind tasting, top wine writers placed Pavie first out of 160 Bordeaux wines.

Written by Adam Lechmere