St Emilion status is 'back to square one'

25 July, 2008

St Emilion has been plunged into chaos after a court ruled that its most recent reclassification was not carried out with fairness and impartiality.

The legal decision means that famous chateaux have been stripped of their cru status - a development which some producers believe will damage sales and potentially devalue their properties.

Unlike in the M édoc, St Emilion reassesses its classification every 10 years. The 2006 classification - which divided wines into Premier Grand Cru Classé A or B, or Grand Cru Classé - was flawed because judges knew which wines were already classified, and which wines were seeking classification, making it impossible for them to remain open-minded.

The case, brought by four disgruntled chateau owners, leaves producers with the expensive task of relabelling their wines.

Tanners director Robert Boutflower said: "It's all politics, with people doing their utmost not to get on with their next-door neighbour.

"We like the idea that St Emilion has a 10-year period during which growers can break their balls, make something really good and get rewarded for it. We don't understand why they can't work with that.

"Now everyone is effectively back to square one. Ultimately it's not going to affect us too badly because we follow the properties, and that's ultimately what the consumers have got to do."

Boutflower said independent wine merchants were in a good position to guide their customers through the confusion.

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