The eagerly awaited 2006 St Emilion classification – the first for ten years – has yielded some surprises.
Both Troplong-Mondot and Pavie-Macquin have been promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé.
Everyone expected Troplong-Mondot’s rise, but Pavie-Macquin was a less expected choice, even though the wine has greatly improved under the management of Nicolas Thienpont.
Ironically, Bellevue, another property that Thienpont manages, with advice from star consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, has been demoted.
If Gérard Perse was hoping for promotion to the very top band for Pavie, he was to be disappointed, but his consolation prize is promotion for Monbousquet to Grand Cru Classé.
Grand-Corbin-Despagne was demoted to Grand Cru in 1996 but has won back its former status. Jean-Luc Thunevin may have expected his Valandraud, which sells for very high prices, to be promoted, but he was to be disappointed, probably because its terroir is too diverse.
Ripeau was said to be in danger of demotion but has survived. La Marzelle and Villemaurine have lost their classified status, as predicted by many.
A keen British observer of the St Emilion scene noted that no garagiste properties had been promoted. ‘Some of those promoted do extract very fully and make wines in a Parkerised style but overall there’s an interesting balance between ‘traditional’ and ‘American’ styles. And the promotions of estates demoted in 1996 are all fully deserved.’
Tim Hartley, chancellor of the British branch of the Jurade de St Emilion, said, ‘Many critics of the system had said that the new classification would be a one-way ladder up. But they’ve been proved wrong. There are a striking number of demotions.’
Hervé Laviale, owner of Grand Cru Classé Franc-Mayne, finds the changes ‘coherent’.
‘The new classification shows that nobody can take anything for granted. The promotions to Premier Cru are thoroughly justifiable, although few people predicted that Pavie-Macquin would be one of them. But it’s a great terroir and it’s commercially successful.’
Experts point out the many criteria for classification. One requirement is that the iwne is distributed by Bordeaux négociants.
‘Yon Figeac (which has been demoted), for example, was sold directly by the Germain group,’ Laviale said . ‘In addition, the wine was never extraordinary.’
He added, ‘There’s always a political element in all this. The demotion of Tertre Daugay may be a warning shot to the Malet Roquefort family, who also own the Premier Cru La Gaffelière.’
In the world of St Emilion high politics such a move may signal that the panel considers La Gaffelière has not performed at its peak in recent years. In effect it may be saying, ‘Your other property, Tertre Daugay, has been underperforming so we’ll demote it. But take care we don’t demote Gaffaliere in 10 years’ time.’
THE 2006 CLASSIFICATION
Summary of changes to the Saint-Emilion Wine Classification
CHANGE FROM GRAND CRU CLASSE TO PREMIER GRAND CRU CLASSE B : 2
Château Pavie-Macquin Château Troplong Mondot
CHANGE FROM PREMIER GRAND CRU CLASSE B TO GRAND CRU CLASSE : 0
NEW ENTRANT TO THE GRAND CRU CLASSE CLASSIFICATION : 6
Château Fleur Cardinale
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin-Despagne
NOT RETAINED IN THE CLASSIFICATION: 11
Château Cadet Bon
Château Faurie de Souchard
Château Guadet Saint-Julien
Château La Marzelle
Château La Tour du Pin Figeac (Giraud-
Château La Tour du Pin Figeac (Moueix)
Château Petit Faurie de Soutard
Château Tertre Daugay
Château Yon Figeac
•Chateau Curé-Bon-la-Madeleine no longer exists; it has become part of Chateau
•Chateau la Clusière no longer exists, it has become part of Chateau Pavie.
•Since the 1997 vintage, Chateau Clos des Jacobins is named Clos des Jacobins.
The 2006 Classification selected 61 crus classés:
•15 Saint-Emilion Premiers Grands Crus Classés,
•46 Saint-Emilion Grands Crus Classés.
CLASSEMENT DES CRUS DE SAINT-EMILION 2006
PREMIERS GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS
A : Château Ausone Château Cheval Blanc
B : Château Angélus
Château Beauséjour (Duffau-
Château La Gaffelière
GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS
Château Balestard la Tonnelle
Château Cadet Piola
Château Canon la Gaffelière
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Corbin Michotte
Château Franc Mayne
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin Despagne
Château Grand Mayne
Château Grand Pontet
Château Haut Corbin
Château Haut Sarpe
Château La Clotte
Château La Couspaude
Château La Dominique
Château La Serre
Château La Tour Figeac
Château Larcis Ducasse
Château Le Prieuré
Château Les Grandes Murailles
Château Moulin du Cadet
Clos de l’Oratoire
Clos des Jacobins
Couvent des Jacobins
Written by Stephen Brook