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St Emilion chateaux begin legal action against Classification

Bordeaux's Saint Emilion classification is facing a fresh legal crisis after three chateaux filed complaints against the selection process.

St Emilion: ‘a pity for everyone’

Chateau Croque-Michotte has joined Château La Tour du Pin Figeac and Château Corbin-Michotte to take their grievances before an administrative tribunal in Bordeaux.

Tension has been simmering since France’s appellation body, the INAO, published the long-awaited new Classification for Saint Emilion in September last year.

‘We have been forced to resort to the law,’ said Sylvie Giraud of Chateau La Tour du Pin Figeac, the only one of four Chateaux to challenge its demotion in the disputed 2006 classification and not to be reinstated in 2012.

Alongside La Tour du Pin Figeac this time around is Corbin-Michotte, which lost is Grand Cru Classé status, and Croque-Michotte, which was refused promotion from Grand Cru to Grand Cru Classé

The three claim there were procedural errors in the selection process, and particularly at the tastings.

‘We don’t agree with the tastings panel,’ said Giraud, adding that information on tasting conditions and quality has been withheld.

‘We have a rich history of terroir here, and we are well-established,’ she said, referring to criteria on which the 18 Premiers Grands Crus Classés et 64 Grands Crus Classés of 2012 were selected.

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

‘It’s not really a surprise for us, because when the classification came out in September, those chateaux said that they were not happy,’ he told Decanter.com. He added that the Council plans to defend the selection process, but has not yet received official word that the Bordeaux tribunal is looking in to the issue.

‘For now, the classification is still alive,’ said Binard.

The 2006 St Emilion Classification was suspended in 2007 following complaints from four properties. The decision to bring in a new Classification has been marked since then by controversy and disagreement.

Written by Chris Mercer

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