St-Émilion's new classification – winners and ....?


Written in conjunction with Yohan Castaing. The small village of St-Émilion, usually very quiet, is today agitated by the excitement of the announcement of the new classification of its wines. Everyone has been forecasting various downgrades and promotions to the first floor of the sacro-saints with Grand Cru Classé status.

This morning at dawn the results were announced to each Château by letter. One of the Châteaux that has been promoted is the prototype garage wine, Jean-Luc Thunevin's Valandraud. Created in 1989, following the acquisition of a small parcel of 0.6 hectares located between Pavie Macquin and La Clotte, Valandraud has gradually conquered the steps of fame and today the estate comprises almost 10 hectares.

The intelligence and business acumen of Jean-Luc Thunevin are beyond doubt, He pioneered the style of wine that was vinified in the garage (as was initially the case with Valandraud) and which famous critic Robert Parker absolutely loved: wines with low yields, concentration, velvety tannins and high prices. Uncontrollable, happy, and sarcastic, Jean-Luc Thunevin is thrilled by this new classification. 'I'm very proud of this upgrade. I, who never passed an examination at school.'

This morning he acknowledged the need for an evolution of the famous classification. Said Thunevin, 'I did not like the stiffness of the ranking and I hope there will be Châteaux promoted to class A (Pavie, Angélus perhaps) because it would be good for St-Émilion'.

And accordingly, as the day went on, more news emerged – not least that Chx Pavie and Angélus have indeed been promoted to join Chx Ausone and Cheval Blanc at the top of the St-Émilion tree as Premiers Grands Crus Classés A, thus doubling the number of estates in this top rank. Pavie's PR man had issued a press release by 10.30 this morning London time expressing owner Gérard Perse's thrill at the promotion. Silence from Hubert de Bouard (pictured) of Angélus so far but this afternoon I was contacted by Ch La Fleur Morange whose 2005 performed so well in this Dec 2007 tasting to say that they have been appointed a Grand Cru Classé.

France's only consumer wine magazine La Revue du Vin de France has been trying to monitor the ups and, much more difficult, the downs of the new classification. Meanwhile, this is the official list from the INAO, in alphabetical order. Where is Magdelaine?

Premiers Grands Crus Classés
Château Angélus (A) 
Château Ausone (A)
Château Beausejour (Héritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château Beau-Sejour Bécot
Château Belair-Monange
Château Canon
Château Canon La Gaffelière
Château Cheval Blanc (A)
Château Figeac
Clos Fourtet
Château La Gaffelière
Château Larcis Ducasse
La Mondotte
Château Pavie (A)
Château Pavie Macquin
Château Troplong Mondot
Château Trottevieille
Château Valandraud

Grands Crus Classés:
Château L'Arrosée 
Château Balestard La Tonnelle
Château Barde-Haut
Château Bellefont-Belcier
Château Bellevue
Château Berliquet
Château Cadet-Bon
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Le Chatelet
Château Chauvin 
Château Clos de Sarpe
Château La Clotte
Château La Commanderie
Château Corbin
Château Côte de Baleau
Château La Couspaude
Château Dassault
Château Destieux
Château La Dominique
Château Faugeres
Château Faurie de Souchard
Château de Ferrand
Château Fleur Cardinale
Château La Fleur Morange
Château Fombrauge 
Château Fonplegade
Château Fonroque
Château Franc Mayne
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin-Despagne
Château Grand Mayne
Château Les Grandes Murailles
Château Grand-Pontet
Château Guadet
Château Haut-Sarpe
Clos des Jacobins
Couvent des Jacobins
Château Jean Faure
Château Laniote
Château Larmande
Château Laroque
Château Laroze
Clos La Madeleine
Château La Marzelle
Château Monbousquet 
Château Moulin Du Cadet
Clos de l'Oratoire
Château Pavie Decesse
Château Peby Faugères
Château Petit Faurie de Soutard
Château de Pressac
Château Le Prieuré
Château Quinault l'Enclos
Château Ripeau
Château Rochebelle
Château Saint-Georges-Cote-Pavie
Clos Saint-Martin
Château Sansonnet
Château La Serre
Château Soutard 
Château Tertre Daugay
Château La Tour Figeac
Château Villemaurine
Château Yon-Figeac