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1855 classification seeks UNESCO World Heritage status

Bordeaux's oldest wine ranking, the Grands Cru Classés en 1855, is applying for the same UNESCO World Heritage status as the climats of Burgundy, and the cellars of Champagne.

Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855, speaking at the Vinexpo press dinner at Chateau Mouton Rothschild last night, announced that the application was being prepared to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the ranking.

The French ministries of culture and the environment are able to propose two applications for potential inclusion on the UNESCO list each year, with the next round expected in January 2014.

This will be too early for the 1855 application, meaning it will not be in direct competition with the other two leading wine regions in France.

Castéja hopes the application will be submitted in 2015, with possible listing in 2016.

The 1855 ranking concerns 87 chateaux – 60 estates in the Médoc, 26 in Sauternes, and one in the Graves – and dates back to the Paris Exhibition organised in 1855 by Napoléon III.

For the UNESCO application a panel of experts on geography, history and oenology has been assembled, including Denis Dubourdieu, professor at the Bordeaux school of oenology and owner of 1855 estate Chateau Doisy Daene, historian Philippe Roudié, and writer Dewey Markham, author of a book on the 1855 ranking.

‘The 1855 classification is the fruit of both natural and human factors and it has only gained in importance over time,’ Castéja told Decanter.com. ‘Its value lies not just in the excellence of the wines, but the architectural richness its chateaux have brought to Bordeaux, the artisanal trades that it supports, from hand-picking of grapes to traditional vine pruning skills, to the renown that it has bought to France across the world.’

Both Champagne and Burgundy were proposed for 2013, but were passed over in favour of 25,000 year old cave paintings in Chauvet, and the volcanoes of the Auvergne. Their candidature will be submitted in January 2014, for possible listing in July 2015.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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