The Saint Emilion Row Over 2006 Classification

Many of you have probably read about the 2006 Classification which has been causing uproar in Saint Emilion. I haven’t covered it in the blogs as it is still ongoing.

The French are a passionate people and the disagreement over those château which are going to be upgraded and those which are due for demotion has been in and out of court – and doubtless will be again – like a yoyo.

Basically Saint Emilion reclassifies its top château every 10 years and you can imagine the furore that ensues as a result. The entire 1855 Classification needs re-evaluating in my view and the Saint Emilion dispute is a storm in a tea cup – albeit a ferocious one.

The situation at present is that the Court ruled last week that the 2006 classification was invalid which meant that any wines from 2006 onwards could not be labelled as Grand Cru Classé or Premier Grand Cru Classé.

Château Ausone and Cheval Blanc’s ranking is now no different from any other estate! This has come at bad time as the chateaux are labelling their 2007 vintage as I write. Some will carry on regardless and pay the resultant fines no doubt.

The French wine regulator the INAO (Institut National de l’Orgine et de la Qualité) has asked the government to add an emergency amendment allowing châteaux that were awarded the titles of Grand Cru Classé or Premier Grand Cru Classé in the 1996 classification to use their former rankings. The ruling applies to the harvests from 2006 to 2009.

It is a shame that a minority of chateaux have spoilt it for the majority. I do feel sorry for the chateaux that have really come up through the ranks and pushed hard for their higher ranking – Chateau Troplong Mondot and Chateau Pavie Macquin for instance must be very disappointed as they have really pulled their boots up to attain the rank of Premier Cru Classé only to lose it.

The dispute could rumble on for months, some say even years to come. To me this is another example of where those who shout loudest get heard, spoiling it for the majority who simply get on with the job in hand – empty vessels make most noise comes to mind – but for those who have created this rumpus perhaps their time would have been better spent with good husbandry over their wines rather than in the courts! I will keep you posted!

Images Courtesy of

Leave a Comment