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St Emilion back on track after classification ban lifted

The St Emilion classification is back in business after a Paris court decided its suspension had no legal justification.

France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, annulled the temporary suspension of the most recent classification of St. Emilion – ending eights months of limbo for the famous Bordeaux region.

The 2006 St Emilion classification was suspended at the end of March this year by a Bordeaux tribunal, following legal action by four chateaux that were demoted in the review, which takes place every 10 years.

Favouring an appeal lodged by France’s appellation authority the INAO, and the Agriculture Ministry, the Paris-based court determined on November 12 that complaints from the contesting chateaux – Chateau La Tour du Pin Figeac, Chateau Cadet Bon, Chateau Guadet and Chateau de la Marzelle – were not ‘of such a nature as to question the legality of the entire classification.’

‘The ruling [from Paris] recognized that there was no legal justification to annul the entire classification and that it was not in the public interest. We completely agree with this ruling,’ Nadine Couraud, director of the St. Emilion Wine Council, the local winegrowers union, told decanter.com.

The matter will not finally be put to rest, however, until the Bordeaux court reaches a final verdict on whether the contesting chateaux were unfairly treated. ‘That could take a few more months,’ Couraud said, ‘but the ruling from Paris certainly argues in favour of permanently re-instating the classification.’

Philippe Thévenin, attorney for the four demoted chateaux, said that the Bordeaux tribunal has a sense of equality that is ‘visibly not shared’ by the court in Paris. ‘None of our arguments convinced [the court], and that is fine, but it did not explain why. I would have liked to have known their analysis,’ he told French newspaper Sudouest.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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