New St. Emilion Classification under Discussion

Leading chateaux in the area met with the French appellations body INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) near the end of February to discuss the long awaited new classification of St. Emilion.
The president of INAO, Yves Bénard, visited St. Emilion on February 17, 2011, to discuss new classification rules with local growers and wine producers. The new regulations will come into effect for the harvest of 2012.

New regulations were demanded after a dispute of the 2006 classification, when some chateaux were stripped of their classified status. Although the St. Emilion’s list of classified chateaux is only updated every 10 years, the debate sparked a compromise that led to several promoted and demoted chateaux keeping their classified status. The region’s classified estates currently take up 16 percent of land in Saint Emilion, amounting to around 880ha.

The new rules set forth will establish an independent organization to monitor the decision-making process and keep it immune from legal challenges, like those seen in the disagreement of 2006. “We are all happy to be nearing the end of this difficult episode, and we are committed to the importance of the classification,” said Hubert de Bouard, Chateau Angelus owner. “Everything is being done through the INAO, not by us in Saint Emilion.”

A commissioned panel of 7 INAO members, none of which are from Bordeaux, will administer the new classification regulations after they are fully decided upon later this year. At the moment the contract remains out to tender, and ten to 15 vintages ranging from 1999 to 2008 could be tasted as part of the new classification. Major factors to be considered include equipment quality, the reputation of the vineyard and the hygiene of the winery. However, INAO president Yves Benard stated that tasting samples will count towards “at least” 50 percent of the final score for each wine.



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