I wrote a post over a year ago entitled Grand Jury Cru, which described the unfortunate plight of the wineries of St. Emilion in Bordeaux, who at the time had recently been told by a French court that the reclassification of the Chateaux (into Grand Cru, Premiere Cru, etc.) was null and void.
At the time everyone, including myself, believed there would be a political resolution to the issue by the time the current vintage went into bottles. And indeed, the issue yo-yo’ed back and forth several more times as the French bureaucracy and the lobbying bodies tussled over the issue.
Unfortunately, however, the clock finally ran out on July 2nd, 2008, and the appeal failed. The courts ruled with finality that the 2006 reclassification, which shook up the established hierarchy by demoting several Chateaux and promoting a number of others, was invalid.
The implications of this ruling include the fact that many Chateaux cannot legally label their wines now, because those labels contain, in some cases, Cru designations that are null and void.
But wait, this just in!
On Friday, at the request of the INAO (Institut National de l’Orgine et de la Qualité — the government body responsible for wine regulations) the French government issued an emergency decree that extends the last classification (revised in 1996) for the next three years.
The poor winemakers of St. Emilion must have whiplash by now.
This latest episode of what may prove a modern day Jarndyce and Jarndyce, doesn’t really help anyone, as most winemakers concerned will have to re-print their labels, but at least it will allow wines (if properly labeled) to be sold.
Maybe in protest the winemakers should just label all the wines with varietal names.