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Court’s ruling leaves St-Emilion’s chateaux without classification

St-Emilion classification St-Emilion’s chateaux have been left in labelling disarray after a Bordeaux court ruled last week that the most recent 2006 classification is invalid.

The controversial classification has been a matter for the French courts since four chateaux demoted in the 10-yearly review took legal action. Following that, the classification was temporarily suspended in March last year but then reinstated eight months later after France’s highest administrative court in Paris favoured an appeal launched by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine), the body that manages French wine classifications, and annulled the suspension on the grounds that the chateaux’ complaints weren’t of a nature to question the legality of the entire classification.

Last week the Bordeaux court made its final verdict on whether the contesting chateaux had been unfairly treated based on the way the review tasting was done. It believes the procedural mechanism was wrong in that wines of chateaux already classified were tasted separately to those of estates not yet classified. The upshot is that the whole classification is void and none of the chateaux can put the status terms Premier Cru Classe A or B or Grand Cru Classe on labels of the 2006 vintage that haven’t yet been released for sale.

Emmanuelle Ronsan-Dantin at the Conseil des Vins de St-Emilion told ThirtyFifty that the wine union is now waiting for a decision from the INAO on whether an appeal will be launched. It’s a waiting game at Chateau Troplong-Mondot too, which is one of the estate’s that was promoted in the 2006 review. Stephanie Libreau there told ThirtyFifty that they couldn’t comment until they had more official information about the consequences of the court decision.