The 2012 St-Emilion Classification: The perfect compromise?

Bordeaux classifications… what a can of worms they can be.

On the one hand you have the 1855 classification of left bank Châteaux, set in stone (apart from one “minor” amend in 1973) and controversial on the basis of its immovability even though times and wines have evidently changed. On the other hand you have the St Emilion classification, which is updated every ten years and is controversial on the basis of its upsetting property owners when châteaux are demoted or not promoted. I suppose, if one had a third hand, there is of course the more peaceable Pomerol classification; namely, none.

The last St Emilion classification took place in 2006 and ended in tears, recriminations and indeed court cases, with four properties – La Tour du Pin Figeac, Cadet Bon, Guadet and de la Marzelle – challenging the outcome. This led to all manner of legal shenanigans, as the demoted Châteaux fought to have the classification annulled, to the chagrin of those that had been promoted. In the end, a compromise was reached and a new classification date of 2012 set.

Therefore, it must have been with some trepidation that decisions were made regarding this year’s reassessment. Perhaps it is not that surprising that it is a less controversial classification that has now been published, albeit perhaps not entirely without surprises.

Moving on up…

The most notable change was the inclusion in the upper echelon of classification -Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) – of Châteaux Angélus and Pavie. Already seen as perhaps a cut above their Premier Grand Cru Classé peers in terms of reputation (albeit perhaps not without controversy in Pavie’s case) and certainly in terms of price, their promotion is not entirely surprising. Gèrard Perse of Château Pavie stated, ‘As soon as I heard the news, I was overcome with emotion… It was a brave move to promote two chateaux for the first time in 50 years to join the other Premier Grand Cru Classé As – but it seems logical that Saint Emilion should have as many First Growths as the Medoc.’

Promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé status were Châteaux Canon La Gaffelière, Larcis Ducasse, Valandraud and La Mondotte

Moving on out…

This was also a classification of mysterious disappearances, as various properties vanished off the radar entirely. Not the act of a malicious re-classifier or unintentional slip of the pen, the following five properties have been merged with others.

Château Magdelaine has been merged with its Moueix sibling, Bélair-Monange.

Château Bergat has been integrated with Trottevieille

Château Cadet Piola is now incorporated with Château Soutard

Châteaux Haut Corbin and Grand Corbin are now both under the latter’s name

Château Matras has been included with Château Canon

 Moving on down…

The classification was not entirely without disappointment for certain properties, there were still demotions, with the following properties losing their Grand Cru status: Corbin Michotte, La Tour du Pin Figeac and La Tour du Pin.

Nothing can stop them?

So far, mostly the classification has been well received, however, a cloud looms on the horizon already in the form of the Carle family, owners of Château Croque Michotte, which has not been included in the classification. There has been a suggestion that they may make a legal challenge to this decision… And so it begins…

Kat Wiggins

The 2012 St Emilion Classification

Premiers Grands Crus Classés (A)
Château Angélus
Château Ausone

Château Cheval Blanc
*Château Pavie

Premiers Grands Crus Classés
Château Beauséjour (héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot
Château Bélair-Monange
*Château Canon
Château Canon la Gaffelière
Château Figeac
Clos Fourtet
Château la Gaffelière
Château Larcis Ducasse
La Mondotte
Château Pavie Macquin
Château Troplong Mondot
Château Trottevieille
*Château Valandraud

Grands Crus Classés
Château l’Arrosée
Château Balestard la Tonnelle
 *Château Barde-Haut
Château Bellefont-Belcier
Château Bellevue
Château Berliquet
Château Cadet-Bon
Château Capdemourlin
 *Château le Chatelet
Château Chauvin
*Château Clos de Sarpe
Château la Clotte
 *Château la Commanderie
Château Corbin
*Château Côte de Baleau
Château la Couspaude
Château Dassault
Château Destieux
Château la Dominique
 *Château Faugères
Château Faurie de Souchard
 *Château de Ferrand
Château Fleur Cardinale
 *Château La Fleur Morange
*Château Fombrauge
Château Fonplégade
Château Fonroque
Château Franc Mayne
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin-Despagne
Château Grand Mayne
Château les Grandes Murailles
Château Grand-Pontet
Château Guadet
Château Haut-Sarpe
Clos des Jacobins
Couvent des Jacobins
 *Château Jean Faure
Château Laniote
Château Larmande
Château Laroque
Château Laroze
 *Clos la Madeleine
Château la Marzelle
Château Monbousquet
Château Moulin du Cadet
Clos de l’Oratoire
Château Pavie Decesse
 *Château Peby Faugères
Château Petit Faurie de Soutard
 *Château de Pressac
Château le Prieuré
 *Château Quinault l’Enclos
Château Ripeau
 *Château Rochebelle
Château Saint-Georges-Cote-Pavie
Clos Saint-Martin
 *Château Sansonnet
Château la Serre
Château Soutard
Château Tertre Daugay (Quintus)
Château la Tour Figeac
Château Villemaurine
Château Yon-Figeac

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