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Bordeaux 1855 UNESCO plan is ‘paused’

A plan to see the Bordeaux 1855 classification, one of the world’s oldest wine ranking systems, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage status has been abandoned – at least for the moment.

Disputes hamper Bordeaux 1855 UNESCO drive

A decision to apply for the UNESCO World Heritage status was taken in June 2013, but has fallen apart due to disputes between the 60 châteaux of the Médoc, the 27 in Sauternes and Barsac and the one in Pessac Léognan.

The project has been led by Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855. He told Decanter.com this week, ‘We only ever wanted to pursue this recognition if all châteaux were agreed. Some have doubts, so we will not be moving forward for now.’

Castéja also said that, because the UNESCO committee last year accepted both Burgundy and Champagne into the exclusive world heritage club, ‘taking a pause’ might offer greater hope of success in the long run.

‘However, we were not looking to classify the châteaux themselves, rather the spirit of 1855 in much the same way that the gastronomy of France was classified as a ‘world intangible heritage’ in 2010,’ said Castéja. ‘It is possible that there was some misunderstanding about that.’

An international committee had been due to present its findings and arguments for the 1855 classification in summer 2016 before submitting a dossier to the French Minister of Culture, an essential first step towards UNESCO recognition. But, this has been cancelled.

Instead, a permanent library dedicated to the 1855 châteaux will open at some point over the next year at Bordeaux’s chamber of commerce and industry.

This site on Place de la Bourse in the city centre is where the original classification was decided, and the library will gather together documents and books from all classified châteaux who wish to participate.

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