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St Emilion classification threatened

Bordeaux's Saint Emilion classification, which is designed to recognise outstanding chateaux in the region, is once more mired in a complicated legal crisis following complaints from French winemakers that the selection process was unsatisfactory.

The new classification was published in September last year and faced rumblings from a number of chateaux following their demotion in the ranking.

A trio of estates which are unhappy with their rankings are expecting to challenge the classification before an administrative trial in Bordeaux later this year, although the Bordeaux Wine Council has yet to comment on the issue.

The three challenging estates are Chateau Croque-Michotte, which was refused a promotion to Grand Cru Classe status, La Tour du Pin Figeac which is challenging a demotion from 2006 and Corbin-Michotte, which lost is Grand Cru Classe ranking.

Their grievances largely focus on the selection process and tasting procedure, with winemakers claiming that information had been withheld by the authority of the classification on both counts.

"We have been forced to resort to the law," Sylvie Giraud of Chateau La Tour du Pin Figeac commented. "We don't agree with the tastings panel."

Franck Binard, director of the Conseil des Vins de Saint Emilion, described the latest developments in the case as "a pity for everyone in Saint Emilion", but added he had been expecting the case to culminate with legal action being taken.

"It's not really a surprise for us, because when the classification came out in September, those chateaux said that they were not happy," he said. "[However], for now, the classification is still alive."

This is the second time in a decade that the Saint Emilion classification has had to respond to legal challenges, with the previous controversy enough to delay the 2007 ranking until 2012.



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The classification has been mired in controversy before
The classification has been mired in controversy before
The classification has been mired in controversy before