There has been a lot of confusion over the 2012 St Emilion classification, for various reasons. First, although most St Emilion proprietors probably knew in June whether or not they had been ranked as they desired (because letters inviting appeals against demotions/failed promotions were sent out), they were only formally notified by letter September 6th 2012. The formal unveiling wasn’t due, however, until late afternoon, but once the news was received it started to leak out in dribs and drabs, by email, Twitter, phone call and the like. As soon as I heard about any confirmed classification I Tweeted about it last Thursday (so I was Tweet-Tweeting all morning) and the result of this was that a list was slowly built up. The Revue des Vins de France also kept updating a list, published here, but as this began to fill out some people took it to be the final version. As Trottevieille and Belair-Monange were some of the last to ‘come out’, some erroneously thought they had been demoted when they were seen to be missing from the incomplete list.
In addition, some estates disappeared from the list not through demotion, but through having been absorbed into other estates. Of these, the most surprising was Magdelaine, in a merger with Belair-Monange which I think very few people were aware of. It will only take effect with the 2012 vintage. Again, this led some to conclude Magdelaine had been demoted from the Premier Grand Cru Classé rung.
Lastly, some publications serve only to further confuse the issue by publishing stories that are factually incorrect. For example, the Revue des Vins de France published this story declaring that Château Croque-Michotte would be challenging the classification, stating that the château had been classed in 1996 but demoted in 2006 (and that proprietor Pierre Carle fought against this). In fact, Croque-Michotte was demoted in 1996 and has never bothered the classification since. It was not one of the properties demoted in 2006 – see my 2006 St Emilion classification report for those. Pierre Carle is threatening to challenge though – I can only assume that Croque-Michotte was one of the 14 (96 applied, 82 were ranked) unsuccessful applicants.
All the details on the process are included in my new post today on the 2012 St Emilion classification, and should it be of interest I also have updated my pages relating to the St Emilion classification per se (mainly its history and early revisions).
If, however, you cant be bothered wading through all that (and I would have some sympathy with you!!) here is the 2012 classification in a nutshell:
St Emilion 2012 in Brief
82 châteaux now classified, with 22 promotions:
4 of the 22 promotions are within the classification:
- both move up a rung to Premier Grand Cru Classé A
- both move up a rung to Premier Grand Cru Classé B
18 of the 22 promotions are new names, including:
- both now Premier Grand Cru Classé B, the other 16 are Grand Cru Classé
5 châteaux disappear through mergers:
Château Magdelaine plus four others from the Grand Cru Classé level
3 châteaux are demoted, these being:
La Tour du Pin (owned by LVMH, vinified alongside Cheval Blanc, pictured above)
La Tour du Pin Figeac (the Moueix portion)
A classification which tends to promote and rarely demotes is perhaps safer from legal challenge, I suppose. It will, however, lead to perhaps justified criticisms of the classification. What is the merit of a system documenting success or otherwise, when you can climb the ladder without difficulty, but it seems very difficult for anyone to ever be knocked off their particular rung? I can see a number of other names listed in 2012 that probably merit demotion alongside those three above. I expect this classification will be ratified by the Ministry of Agriculture soon. And then we can all come back to it in 2022. See you then!