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Château La Gaffelière withdraws from the next St-Emilion classification

Château La Gaffelière has dealt a fresh blow to the 2022 St-Emilion classification system by joining the exodus from this year’s ranking.

The historic estate follows in the footsteps of Châteaux Angélus, Cheval Blanc and Ausone by withdrawing its candidacy from the upcoming classification.

The Malet-Roquefort family, which has owned Château La Gaffelière for more than 300 years, said it ‘no longer recognises its values’ in the new criteria.

The Malet-Roqueforts claimed that the overhauled rating system for the tasting ‘contradicts all the ratings obtained by Château La Gaffelière for several years by the greatest wine professionals’.

‘Now is the time to bow out,’ said the family in a statement. ‘We no longer recognise ourselves in this system to which we are historically attached and which has honoured us for a long time.

‘We will continue our work as winegrowers, as it has been transmitted to us, in respect of the prestigious terroir of St-Emilion, by producing wines faithful to our image, recognised and appreciated by wine lovers all over the world.’

The St-Emilion classification is updated every 10 years. In 2012, it assigned Premier Grand Cru Classé A status to four châteaux – Angélus, Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Pavie.

Of that quartet, only Château Pavie remains. Upon announcing its withdrawal, Angélus said the classification had become ‘a vehicle for antagonism and instability’. Co-owner Hubert de Boüard was fined €60,000 after a court decided he illegally manipulated the system in 2012, a decision he condemned as ‘an injustice’.

Châteaux Cheval Blanc and Ausone said that they noticed ‘a profound change in the philosophy of the classification’ in 2012, citing ‘marketing drift such as the importance of product placement, how often an estate appears in media, including PR and in social media, along with wine tourism infrastructure’, and said they no longer wanted to be a part of it.

Château La Gaffelière, which is currently ranked Premier Grand Cru Classé B, doubled down on that criticism in its statement.

It suggested that the new approach ‘calls into question the quality level of a terroir that has been acclaimed and distinguished by the AOC wine authorities for more than 65 years’ and said it is withdrawing without even requesting a new examination of the file and without asking to be heard by the commission.

St- Emilion’s Wine Council has said it regrets the withdrawals but it defended the process for the 2022 Classification. It claims that the new ranking system can serve as ‘a formidable tool for challenge, innovation and modernity’.


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