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09.07.2006

The 2006 St. Emilion Classification Released

Every ten years, a cabal of wine officials gets together to decide who is good, who is better, and who is best in a little town on the North side of the Dordogne River in the Bordeaux region of France. The "Right Bank" as it is affectionately known, is home to the town and appellation of Saint Emilion, which today was "reclassified" to determine the best wine estates in the appellation.

Way back in the 19th century, a slightly crustier and secretive cabal of wine industry mavens got together and created the famous Classification of 1855 which defined for the world which were the top producers of the "Left Bank" of Bordeaux. At the time Saint Emilion was left out completely.

It took them 100 years or so, but eventually the winemakers and wine brokers of Saint Emilion created their own classification, and sensibly, they've been periodically updating it ever since. It now seems to be an "every 10 years" sort of affair, and today was the day that the new version came out.

It's always a big deal, with promotions, demotions, reinstatements, and lots of rancor, not to mention snide remarks from the other bank of the river about how overly generous the rankings are. Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc have held the top designations of Premier Grand Cru Classe A since the creation of the rankings, and many scoff at the swelling list of Classe B holders, suggesting that the criteria for "almost first place" is a lot looser than it should be.

The new list will doubtless encourage further such allegations as the list of Classe B estates grows further with the inclusion of two more estates, Troplong Mondot and Pavie-Macquin.

For those who care about such things, or the merely curious, here is the new and approved list. Don't trample one another going out to buy 2005 futures from the newly anointed Premier Grand Crus.

2006 St. Emilion Classification

PREMIERS GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS A
Château Ausone
Château Cheval Blanc

PREMIERS GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS B
Château Angélus
Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot
Château Belair
Château Canon
Château Figeac
Château La Gaffelière
Château Magdelaine
Château Pavie
Château Pavie-Macquin
Château Troplong-Mondot
Château Trottevieille
Clos Fourtet

GRANDS CRUS CLASSÉS
Château Balestard la Tonnelle
Château Bellefont-Belcier
Château Bergat
Château Berliquet
Château Cadet Piola
Château Canon la Gaffelière
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Chauvin
Château Corbin
Château Corbin Michotte
Château Dassault
Château Destieux
Château Fleur-Cardinale
Château Fonplégade
Château Fonroque
Château Franc Mayne
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin Despagne
Château Grand Mayne
Château Grand Pontet
Château Haut Corbin
Château Haut Sarpe
Château L'Arrosée
Château La Clotte
Château La Couspaude
Château La Dominique
Château La Serre
Château La Tour Figeac
Château Laniote
Château Larcis Ducasse
Château Larmande
Château Laroque
Château Laroze
Château Le Prieuré
Château Les Grandes Murailles
Château Matras
Château Monbousquet
Château Moulin du Cadet
Château Pavie-Decesse
Château Ripeau
Château Saint-Georges-Côte-Pavie
Château Soutard
Clos de l'Oratoire
Clos des Jacobins
Clos Saint-Martin
Couvent des Jacobins

Comments (16)

Per wrote:
09.08.06 at 8:01 AM

So the promotion of two estates to class B was the only change? Or did other things change too?

Alder wrote:
09.08.06 at 11:29 AM

Per,

Sorry, I probably should have been more explicit.

Bellefont-Belcier, Destieux, Fleur Cardinale, Grand Corbin, Grand Corbin Despagne, and Monbousquet have been promoted to Grand Cru Classe.

The chateaux that have been removed from the Grand Cru list are: Bellevue, Cadet Bon, Faurie de Souchard, Guadet St-Julien, La Marzelle, Giraud-Blivier's La Tour du Pin Figeac, Moueix' La Tour du Pin Figeac, Petit Faurie de Soutard, Tertre Daugay, Villemaurine and Yon Figeac.

johng wrote:
09.09.06 at 5:07 PM

Slightly OT... Alder, have you been to Saint-E. and do you have any recommendation as to where to stop if you only had time to visit one or two chateaux?

Alder wrote:
09.10.06 at 2:50 PM

John,

Haven't been to St. Emilion so I'm a bad person to ask, it also depends on whether you want to go to the top chateaux or some smaller out of the way producers.

Alder

Jack wrote:
09.11.06 at 5:27 AM

Dear John,
While I am no expert, make sure you see the city of St Emilion, Pomerol has a tasting room that is nice, and the big boys like Ausone are wonderful to visit but I also really liked Chateau Pipeau, a perennial good value and nice people

JohnG wrote:
09.12.06 at 3:04 PM

Thanks Alder and Jack,

Great - I had seen mentions of Ausone being good to visit, and I will check out Pipeau. We will be staying in the city for one night as we get our bearings after the flight from SFO and get ready to drive (very slowly) to Nice. With kids in tow I don't see us hitting more than one or two wineries in Saint-Emillion, and perhaps another one or two along the way, so I would like to choose well.

JAdams wrote:
09.12.06 at 4:08 PM

John,
I was in St. Emilion in July and visited Chateau Figeac and Chateau Beau Sejour Bècot. Both have nice wines. Chateau Figeac's wines are a little more "left bank-y" as they use a higher percentage of Cabernet (Franc and Sauvignon) in comparison to other St. Emilion producers. The tour of Beau Sejour Bècot was more interesting, which is great if you have kids in tow. Their vineyards are located on a limestone bench with the cellar located below. Both offer English tours.

JohnG wrote:
09.13.06 at 9:18 AM

Thanks, J, I had been considering Figeac, since it's one the St. E wines I've tried most frequently. Beau Sejour Bècot does sound great (nice website BTW if you don't mind Flash) and the wines look to be pretty darn good.

BD wrote:
09.15.06 at 6:33 AM

I'm a big fan of Chateau Rozier which is a Grand Crus Class wine--or so I thought. Am I mistaken? I don't see it in the new classification.

Alder wrote:
09.15.06 at 8:02 AM

BD,

It is not a Grand Cru, or at least, it has never appeared on any classification list I have ever seen for this year or for past years.

A little googling around shows that some wine merchants are SELLING it as a Grand Cru wine...

Marc Maurel wrote:
09.18.06 at 10:55 AM

Hi All,

The 2006 re-classification of ST. Emilion wines brings very little to the table. As mentioned, many Class "B" are gathered with huge disparities in quality.

A big question arises:
Where are all the exceptional "garagistes" wines classified, some selling at outrageous prices even beyond class "B" ???

The only positive factor of such a reclassification is that marks a necessity for improved qualities in the wines as opposed to some classifications made some 151 years ago...

Alder wrote:
09.18.06 at 8:52 PM

Marc,

Thanks for the comments. All of these classifications suffer from age-old prejudices in my opinion.

09.20.06 at 2:00 AM

Dear All,

Commenting on the Grand Cru (Class) (or not) issue: the confusing thing in St-Emilion is that there is the "Saint-Emilion Grand Cru" Appellation (next to the ordinary "Saint-Emilion" AOC), and there is the Grand Cru Class Classification. The mentioned Ch. Rozier is not a Grand Cru Class, but does belong to the "Saint-Emilion Grand Cru" AOC. On my website (www.bordoverview.com) both AOC and Classification are mentioned for all important Bordeaux chateau's (b.t.w. not yet the new 2006-classification).

Alder wrote:
09.20.06 at 10:01 AM

Ah. Great clarification. I learn something new every day here.

Alder wrote:
09.22.06 at 8:58 AM
Rachel W wrote:
07.03.07 at 8:26 PM

searching the relevant article, and visited blindly in your blog. nice one.
by the way, Ch. Cure Bon was kick off from 1996 St-Emilion classification.

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