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St Emilion owner ‘seeking damages’ over Classification

The owner of Saint Emilion's Chateau Croque-Michotte, Pierre Carle, will seek compensation if he and two other chateaux win their court battle against the new Saint Emilion classification.

‘The best terroir in the world’: Croque-Michotte

Carle has joined forces with Château La Tour du Pin Figeac and Château Corbin-Michotte to file a legal complaint at a tribunal in Bordeaux.

After missing out on Grand Cru Classé status, they allege procedural errors by the INAO-led selection team for the 2012 classification.

Carle told Decanter.com he will ‘ask for damages’ if he wins the case, highlighting the difference in wine prices for those with a classification and those without.

Croque-Michotte has been out of the classification since 1996.

Carle accused INAO officials of ‘not respecting their own rules’ in the 2012 selection process.

While full details of the legal case are not fully known, the dispute centres on the application of eligibility criteria for classification, and specifically the tasting results, the tests for quality of terroir and the extent to which the chateaux are ‘well-known’.

‘This area has some of the best terroir in the world, and we are right in the middle. But they said the terroir was not good,’ said Carle. ‘We are on the border with Pomerol, 350 metres from Cheval Blanc and Petrus.’

Both Carle and Sylvie Giraud, of Château La Tour du Pin Figeac, said that legal action is a last resort.

‘I wrote them several letters with full details,’ Carle said, ‘and the answer was: we can do nothing. They are just bureaucrats who go home at the end of the day and don’t care.’

He added, ‘For me, it’s very simple. We have all the proof of the fault, everything is written down on paper’.

The case could take months to sort out. Last time there was a dispute of this nature, in 2006, it took three years to resolve, Carle pointed out.

Franck Binard, director of the Conseil des Vins de Saint Emilion, said the legal action ‘is a pity for everyone in Saint Emilion.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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