Bordeaux: 2012 St. Émilion Classification Revision – WDIAM?

Welcome to binNotes’ latest installment of Terroirist Tuesday.

St. Émilion, Bordeaux FR

Confused by the recent  St. Émilion’s Classification revision announcement?

St. Emilion 2012 Revision at a glance: What does it all mean?

  • Announced by Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) – Governing body for French AOC  & VDQS wine quality standards.
  • Revision rank tastings and inspections performed by independent seven (7)member body from outside Bordeaux, not St. Émilion Wine Syndicate or Bordeaux wine trade members.
  • No longer fixed number of Chateaux classified.
  • Estates now graded upon four (4) criteria, based upon a 20-point scale:
    • Tasting
    • Reputation
    • Characteristics of vineyard and infrastructure
    • Viticulture and winemaking
  •  (3) Classification Ranking
  • (96) Applicants requested examination for ranking – results as follows:
    • (4) Premiers Grands Crus Classés Level A (Highest)
      • Chateau Pavie and Angelus join Ausone and Cheval Blanc.
    • (18 )Premiers Grands Crus Classés Level B
      • Includes La Mondotte and Valandraud, two properties not previously ranked as well as Larcis Ducasse and Canon La Gaffeliere.
    • (82) Grands Crus Classés
      • Includes Faugères and Peby-Faugères, both elevated for the first time.
    • Estates missing from 2012 ranking due to mergers include:
      • Château Bergat (merged with Trottevielle)
      •  Château Cadet-Piola (merged with Soutard)
      •  Château Haut Corbin (now Grand Corbin)
      • Château Matras (now part in Canon),
      • Château Magdeleine (merged with Premier Grand Cru Classé sister property  Bélair-Monange).
    • Estates demoted include:
      • Château La Tour du Pin Figeac – not reinstated from 2006 demotion.
      •  Chateau Corbin Michotte  lost its Grand Cru Classé status.

Bottom line: Good news for consumers, who benefit from  St. Émilion estates eager to maintain quality in order to maintain ranking, as well as for industrious producers keen to move up the Classification ranks of a former seemingly insurmountable system.

Image: INAO

Bordeaux’s Wine Classification Systems at a glance*: 

  • 1855: First ‘Classification’ System
    • Introduced by Bordeaux’s Union of Commercial Brokers for Paris Universal Exhibition
    • 87 Châteaux ranked:
      • (1) from Pessac-Léognan AOC
      • (26) from Sauternes and Barsac AOC’s
      • (60) from Médoc AOC
    • Red Producers ranked in five (5) categories: 1st – 5th Growths
      • (1st Growth = Best)
    • Sweet (White) Producers ranked in three (3) categories:
      • Premier Cru Supérieur (Highest)
        • Only one in 1855: Château d’Yquem.
      • Premier Cru
      • Deuxième Cru
    • Geek Note: Few changes to the 1855 Classification System. Notable exception: 1973 elevation of Château Mouton Rothschild from 2nd to 1st Growth.
  • 1953: Graves Classification 
    • Sixteen (16) Estates ranked:
      • (6) Estates for Red and White wines
      • (3) Estates for white wine only
      • (7) Estates for red wine only
    • All estates from within Pessac-Léognan AOC.
    • All wines entitled to “Grand Cru Classé de Graves” status and “Cru Classé de Graves” labeling.
    • Geek Note: Only classification to rank wines, not estates.
  • 1955: St. Émilion Classification 
    • (74) Properties ranked in three (3) Categories:
      • Premier Grand Cru Classé Level A (Highest)
      • Premier Grand Cru Classé Level B
      • Grand Cru Classé
    • Only Right Bank classification system.
    • Designed for revision every (10) years.
      • 2009: Both 1996 & 2006 rankings reinstated after 2008 revocation thru 2011.
        • (74) Properties ranked:
          • (2) Premiers Grands Crus Classés A Level: Chateau Auson and Cheval Blanc
          • (13) Premiers Grands Crus Classés B Level
          • (59) Grands Crus Classés
    • 2012 Revision – September 6th.
    • Geek Note:   St.Émilion Grand Cru AOC in NOT the same as St. Émilion Grand Cru Classé rank; wine must be the former in order to achieve ranking as the latter.
  • 2006: Crus Artisans
    • 44 ’boutique’ wineries of quality.
    • ‘Boutique’: Small wineries entirely responsible for own production process from vineyard-barrel-bottle.

*(Excludes 1932 Cru Bourgeois unofficial classification system revised in 2003 and rescinded in 2007, a syndicate of 270+ Alliance des Crus Bourgeois members.) ©2012  L.M. Archer. All rights reserved.

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