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St. Emilion Grand Cru

bordeaux france wine

What does the future hold??

The wine world has once again been thrown into chaos with a new ruling by the French Courts over the use of the term Grand Cru.

The case was brought by four Chateau, namely Guadet St Julien, Cadet Bon, La Tour du Pin Figeac and La Marzelle, who had recently been de-listed from the Grand Cru status which helps them command price and prestige for their wine.

In brief the French wine industry is based on history and not based on the wines being tested individually as they are in Germany.

The result is that wineries which had good aspect, soil, sun, rainfall, position which we commonly know as TERROIR, have the best reputation, as defined by the classification jury. the classifications were completed in 1954 and are reexamined every 10 years by a panel consisting of Wine makers, wine merchants brokers and wine professors. The result of last year’s rethink meant that the Grand Crus were reduced from 68 to 61, a decision which the Chateau involved took exception to.

The judge ruled that partiality had been shown as the tasting panel had only visited 7 of the 95 candidate Chateau and as a result the classification changes could not apply.

Now we have a situation where by trying to define quality and give the consumers a steer on what is good poor or better than average, the system itself has folded, throwing the pricing of such wines into an uncertain period.

the nett effect of reducing status on a Chateau from Grand Cru to Appellation Controllee can be 35% of the value, a reduction which comes at a time when the Bordeaux vintners can ill afford to lose yet more ground to the now dominant New World Wineries.

We shall watch with interest as this evolves. An appeal is to be lodged an it will no doubt rumble on over the next 12 months and beyond. Investments in wine from pension funds may be affected and if the terms apply to the other side of the river known as the medoc, classified in 1856 and hardly altered since, the effect on prices could be phenomenal.

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