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2012 St Emilion Classification

Friday, 7th September 2012 by Jeff Leve

The Wine World was interested to read of the St Emilion re-classification reults yesterday in which two chateaux were promoted to the status of Premier Grand Cru Classé A. We are pleased to reproduce here a report by our friend Jeff Leve. To Read the full article, please go to his website The Wine Cellar Insider

The 2012 St. Emilion Classification is official. It’s completed. It’s controversial. It’s going to make some people happy. Other people, not so much. Numerous chateaux have been elevated. For the first time since the St. Emilion Classification was created in 1955, two chateaux were added to the list of Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Joining Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc at the top of the pyramid are Chateau Angélus and Chateau Pavie in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification! Both wines are great! Bravo! They both worked hard to earn their new status. It’s also nice to see because Robert Parker spent so much time sharing his enthusiasm on both wines, especially, Pavie. It looks like he has been vindicated on that call. However, this news is already generating a lot of talk among wine lovers.

The news of the changes to the 2012 St. Emilion Classification was released a little at a time. For many people, this was confusing. If the information was available, why not release it in full? What happened is, each St. Emilion received their official notification of the 2012 St. Emilion Classification before any major announcement was made. At that point, it was up to the individual chateau if they wanted to share and promote their news or not. The complete list of all the changes to the 2012 St. Emilion classification became available September 6.

Does it matter? To the majority of American consumers, not a lot. In fact, it will not change what most consumers think of the wines. People are going to continue paying what they think the wines are worth. Keep in mind, Valandraud and La Mondotte were not classified until today. Yet, they were already two of the most expensive wines in St. Emilion. On the other end of the spectrum, Trottevieille and Magdelaine were considered First Growths, and both wines sold for less money than many lesser classified growths. That does not mean the 2012 St. Emilion Classification is not important. It is. And it’s an honor for all the chateau that produced wine at the level required for an upgrade in their status. For consumers worried that prices will increase for their favorite wines, that probably will not happen.

The 2012 St. Emilion Classification is much more than the Premier Grand Cru Classé A wines. Although that is big news! Equally important is discovering which chateaux were elevated to the Premier Grand Cru Classé B category. When the St. Emilion Classification was first created, a total of 12 chateau earned the right to label their wines as Premier Grand Cru Classé. Today that number has grown, and rightfully so. The level of quality being produced in St. Emilion has never been higher! While it’s easy to quibble over which chateau deserve to be labeled as Premier Grand Cru Classé B, and who should be demoted, overall, the wines being made in this category are at their best, sublime expressions of St. Emilion. The producers elevated to this category worked hard to get there. They are all stunning wines, from great estates and passionate about wine. It’s nice to see Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle get the recognition they deserve. Stephan Neipperg, with his approach to vineyard management has been making great wine at La Mondotte and Canon La Gaffeliere. The dynamic duo of Stephane Derenoncourt and Nicolas Thienpont took Larcis Ducasse from an under performing terroir and turned it into a strong and affordable, quality St. Emilion. They all deserve their new status. The following producers were elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé B status in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification making a total of 14 chateaux with the designation of Premier Grand Cru

Classé B status:

  • Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere
  • Chateau Larcis Ducasse
  • La Mondotte
  • Valandraud

Chateau Magdelaine is no longer part of the classification of St Emilion. The vines are now merged into Chateau Belair-Monange, which ironically, allows the vines to retain their First Growth status. Life can be funny like that sometimes.

Numerous changes in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification have also taken place in the Grand Cru Classé category. Today 63 estates share the honor of Grand Cru Classé status. The whopping 17 newest editions to Grand Cru Classé are:

  • Chateau Cote de Baleau
  • Chateau Barde Haut
  • Chateau Le Chatelet
  • Chateau Clos de Sarpe
  • Chateau Clos La Madeleine
  • Chateau La Commanderie
  • Chateau Faugeres
  • Chateau de Ferrand
  • Chateau Fombrauge
  • Chateau La Fleur Morange
  • Chateau Jean Faure
  • Chateau La Marzelle
  • Chateau Peby Faugeres
  • Chateau de Pressac
  • Chateau Quinault l’Enclos
  • Chateau Rochebelle
  • Chateau Sansonnet

Eight chateaux that were demoted from the 2006 St. Emilion Classification were once again awarded Grand Cru Classé status in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification:

  • Chateau Bellevue
  • Chateau Cadet Bon
  • Chateau Faurie de Souchard
  • Chateau Guadet – Previously known as Chateau Guadet Saint Julien
  • Chateau Petit Faurie deSoutard
  • Chateau Tertre Daugay which is now Chateau Quintus
  • Chateau Villemaurine
  • Chateau YonFigeac

The most interesting statistic from this entire reclassification is perhaps the following: a total of four chateaux were demoted in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification. Magdelaine from the position of First Growth and three from Grand Cru Classé status. I love Bordeaux wine. I want everyone to succeed. I spend a lot of my time in Bordeaux. The only thing I spend more on for Bordeaux is my money. I’ve tasted most of the wines on this page multiple times and several vintages. Many of the wines that earned Grand Cru Classé status in the 2012 St. Emilion Classification are stunning. But every wine on this list is not close to equal quality. I find it shocking that only 3 chateau were demoted from Grand Cru Classé status and one from Premier Grand Cru Classé A. But, that is the conclusion the impartial committee arrived at. The following three estates lost their Grand Cru Classé status:

  • Chateau Bergat
  • Chateau Cadet Piola
  • Chateau Corbin Michotte

For history buffs, this does not set a record for the number of Classified growths in St. Emilion at one time. The 2012 St. Emilion Classification has 81 members, while the Classification of 1969 had 84 chateaux included. While it was previously agreed on that properties would not contest the latest round of classifications. I would not be surprised to see some properties file suit, claiming the results were unfair. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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