St.-Émilion Has Class

Château Angélus and Château Pavie are promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A and Château Valandraud and Château La Mondotte are two other winners.

After six years of legal battling, St.-Émilion finally has a new quality ranking of its chateaus. Last week, the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) an organization in charge of French appellations, announced the list of the new top estates. St.-Émilion results are due to appear on the 2012 vintage labels.

Two top promotions are Château Angélus and Château Pavie, which join Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc in Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Château Valandraud and Château La Mondotte, meanwhile, were promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé B.

There are now four Premier Grand Cru Classé A, 14 Premier Grand Cru Classé B and 64 Grand Cru Classé, announced on Friday by the Conseil des Vins de St.-Émilion. All other wineries in the St.-Émilion appellation are either unranked Grand Cru or simply St.-Émilion.

The decennial review recognizes and advances chateaus with wine improvements over the past decade and demotes those properties with decreased quality. The determination also ultimately affects marketing campaigns and wine prices.

While Angélus and Pavie were expected triumphs, the promotion of Château Valandraud, which went from an unranked St.-Émilion Grand Cru to a St.-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B, was a surprise—and an astonishing advancement for proprietor Jean-Luc Thunevin, creator of the garage wine concept.

“It’s a dream come true. Today, fiction became reality,” Thunevin told Wine Enthusiast. “I am very proud.”

For Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Château La Mondotte, the single-vineyard wine, and Château Canon-La-Gaffelière, it was a double win, as both were promoted to Classé B. “It’s an historic double,” von Neipperg said in a statement.

Château Larcis-Ducasse was also promoted to Classé B, and Château Fombrauge and Château Faugères advanced from unranked Grand Cru to Grand Cru Classé.

Château Corbin-Michotte and Château la Tour du Pin Figeac were both demoted from the third rank Grand Cru Classé category they achieved in 1996 to unranked Grand Cru.

The 2006 classification was nullified after several declassified chateaus took legal action, claiming the inspection methodology was questionable. This time, St.-Émilion authorities attempted to avoid law suits by giving authority to the INAO, and by having only inspectors from outside of Bordeaux participate. Château Croque-Michotte, which was demoted in 2006 and remained demoted this year, has already threatened legal action.

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