Facts are facts but any opinions, express or implied, on this page are those of the Chancellor in the North in his personal, not official, capacity and do not necessarly represent the views or opinions of any other person or body connected with the Jurisdiction. . .
Saint-Émilion had no part in the 1855 Left Bank classification and had no classification system of its own until 1955. Unhandicapped by an old system, it was able to create a modern one. Within the higher Appellation of Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, there are two levels of classified growth - Premier Grand Cru Classé (itself sub-divided into "A" and "B") and Grand Cru Classé. The classification takes place anew about every ten years, both for those already classified and those wishing to be so, so that there is a complete review. It has not been true , as some critics thought would be the case, that the numbers of classified growths would increase with each review. Indeed rather the reverse has happened, especially in the case of the Grands Crus Classés. In 1955 there were 12 Premiers Grands Crus Classés and 63 Grands Crus Classés. Whilst 1969 saw a further 9 Grands Crus Classés added bringing the total to 72, the 1986 review gave only 11 Premiers Grands Crus Classés and 63 Grands Crus Classés. Ten years later, in 1996, there were 2 new classifications as Premiers Grands Crus Classés, giving a total of 13, but only 55 Grands Crus Classés emerged from the review. The proposed 2006 classification, surrounded by controversy and eventually judicially overturned, would have seen a further decline in the latter's numbers to 46, after Ch. Pavie-Macquin and Ch. Troplong Mondot each became Premier Grand Crus Classé.
The 2012 Classification increases that number to 64. A list of the classified wines follows, alphabetically, with an asterisk marking the additions to any particular class compared with the original 2006 list, a double asterisk means that this wine featured neither in the 2006 nor the 1996 list in that classification:
Premiers Grands Crus Classés
A: Ch. Angélus**, Ch. Ausone, Ch. Cheval Blanc, Ch. Pavie**;
B: Ch. Beauséjour (Duffau Lagarrosse), Ch. Beau-Séjour-Bécot, Ch. Belair-Monange (formerly Ch. Belair and now including the former Ch. Magdelaine ), Ch. Canon (now including the former Ch. Matras), **, Ch. Figeac, Clos Fourtet, Ch. La Gaffelière, Ch. Larcis Ducasse**, La Mondotte**, Ch. Pavie-Macquin, Ch. Troplong-Mondot, Ch. Trottevieille (now including the former Ch. Bergat), Ch. Valandraud**;
Grands Crus Classés:
Ch. l’Arrosé, Ch. Balestard la Tonnelle, Ch. Barde-Haut**, Ch. Bellefont-Belcier, Ch. Bellevue*, Ch. Berliquet, Ch. Cadet Bon*, Ch. Cadet Piola, Ch. Cap de Mourlin,
Ch. le Chatelet**, Ch. Chauvin, Ch. Clos de Sarpe**, Ch. Corbin, Ch. Cote de Baleau**, Ch. La Clotte, Ch. la Commanderie**, Ch. La Couspaude, Ch. Dassault, Ch. Destieux, Ch. La Dominique, Ch. Faugeres**, Ch. Faurie de Souchard*, Ch. de Ferrand**,
Ch. Fleur-Cardinale, Ch. La Fleur Morange**, Ch. Fombrauge**, Ch. Fonplégade, Ch. Fonroque, Ch. Franc Mayne, Ch. Grand Corbin (which now takes in the former Ch. Haut Corbin),
Ch. Grand Corbin Despagne, Ch. Grand Mayne, Ch. Grand Pontet, Ch. Guadet* (formerly called Ch. Guadet Saint-Julien), Ch. Haut Sarpe, Clos des Jacobins, Couvent des Jacobins,
Ch. Jean Faure**, Ch. Laniote, Ch. Larmande, Ch. Laroque, Ch. Laroze, Clos la Madeleine**, Ch. La Marzelle*, Ch. Monbousquet, Ch. La Serre,
Ch. Les Grandes Murailles, Ch. Moulin du Cadet, Clos de l'Oratoire, Ch. Pavie-Decesse, Ch. Peby Faugeres**, Ch. Petit Faurie de Soutard*, Ch. de Pressac**, Ch. Le Prieuré,
Ch. Quinault l’Enclos, Ch. Ripeau, Ch. Rochebelle**, Ch. Saint-Georges-Côte-Pavie,Clos Saint-Martin, Ch. Sansonnet**, Ch. Soutard, Ch. Tertre Daugay*, Ch. La Tour Figeac, Ch. Villemaurine*,
and Ch. Yon Figeac.
Up to fifteen years’ vintages may be taken into account for Premiers Grands Crus Classés and ten for Grands Crus Classés.
An application has to be made by the grower supported by a dossier covering the activities of the relevant ten or fifteen year period.
One of the major changes is that tasting by the Commission has become the most important criterion to judge the level of
quality and consistency for those seeking to remain as, or ne promoted to, Grand Cru Classé.
It will count for 50% of the final result, the remainder being made up of an assessement of national and international reputation as shown by the dossier supporting the application (20%), with an
assessment of technical aspects of the estate and production making up the balance. Price should therefore be considerably reduced in importance for the Grands Crus Classés.
It is understood by the author of this note, on very good authority, that all those seeking to remain as, or to be promoted to, Premier Grand Cru Classé will first have to satisfy the criteria applicable to Grands Crus Classés, passing the tasting and other tests for that level first before being submitted to the different criteria for Premier Grand Cru Classés.
The marking system is rather different for Premiers Grands Crus Classés, in respect of which classification will be based less on tasting criteria - 30% of the final result - than the other factors taken together. It remains a criticism that wines which qualify as Premiers on quality grounds may not be promoted because their selling price is lower than other wines of similar quality which are classified.
Applicants' wines are marked out of 20 with a requirement to obtain 14/20 for classification as Grand Cru Classé and 16/20 for Premier Grand Cru Classé. The marks awarded are not made public, so there can be no classification within a classification.
The decision as to whether a Premier Grand Classé should be A or B depends, according to the rules, only on its reputation or fame and its capacity to age. There is no requirement for a particular higher mark out of 20 for this distinction, whether specifically on tasting or overall, as there is for other gradations in the classification nor, despite the requirement for capacity to age, is any longer period than 15 years taken into account or older wies tasted. It is noticeable that Ch. Figeac, the capacity to age for periods far in excess of 15 years of which can hardly be in doubt, was not promoted to A in 2012 and one criticisim voiced is that price is still being taken into account at this level rather than objective quality.
Challenge to any individual decision in relation to a Château was intended no longer to require challenge to the whole classification but only to that individual case, so that all other decisions would stand and the whole classification would not be imperilled as happened in 2006. There is provision for a re-examination of individual cases with a grower having a right to be heard.
The requirement that an applicant's wine should have been Grand Cru for seven out of the ten relevant years has gone in the new rules but the candidate vineyard must over the relevant period have produced an average of at least 50% of the wine under the same name as that which is the subject of the application. In order to qualify for consideration the estate also has to be a sufficiently large economic and viticultural unit and have cellars used exclusively for the candidate wine.
On pain of being declassified, candidates have to undertake for the following ten years not, without proper authority, to modify in any way the property on which the classified wine was made, and must also undertake to bottle it at the Château.