Promotions and demotions were the order of the day as Saint-Emilion’s new classification was announced in Paris on September 7. Premier Grand Cru classé-already populated by illustrious names like Château Pavie and Château Figeac-went to Château Pavie-Macquin and Château Troplong-Mondot.
At the same time, six chateaus reached the ranks of Grand Cru Classé for the first time. They include trailblazing properties such as Château Monbousquet, home of Gerard Perse (and owner of Château Pavie), and Château Grand-Corbin-Despagne, a property owned by the Despagne family. Despagne was dropped to simple Grand Cru in 1996 and has worked hard to regain its status since. Says François Despagne, “It’s the recognition of 10 years’ hard work. We are an old Saint-Emilion family and we decided to do what it takes to regain the classification.”
Eleven chateaus were demoted from Grand Cru Classé to Grand Cru. They include two properties in the west of Saint-Emilion, both called La Tour du Pin Figeac, but under different ownership. One, owned by Jean-Michel Moeuix family, is already up for sale.
One property that was expected to reach the ranks of Grand Cru Classé but did not was Château Valandraud, owned by Jean-Luc Thunevein. “The classement is there to aid wine drinkers,” Thunevein said. “It should recognize the best wines. The commission seems to have forgotten that.”
Saint-Emilion revises its Grand Cru Classé list every 10 years. The decisions are based on tastings and visits to properties that wish to be considered for inclusion, and similar inspections of existing classified growths. It is the only classification in Bordeaux that is revised this way.
Nicolas Thienpont director of Château Pavie-Macquin, now Premier Grand Cru Classé, says that the “formula is simple. You have a great piece of land, you make a great wine and you are noticed by the market. I am just the midwife.”
The full list of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru classification changes.
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