Ausone and Cheval Blanc Leave St Emilion Classification
The deadline for the submission of dossiers for the 2022 classification was June 30th, 2021. At that point one thing became clear; no dossiers had been received from the Pauline Vauthier (pictured below) of Château Ausone, or from Pierre Lurton and Pierre-Oliver Clouet (latter pictured below), managing director and technical director respectively of Château Cheval Blanc. This equated to the withdrawal of both properties from the classification.
Your initial thought might be that this was an administrative error. The application was lost in the post? Sadly not; the withdrawal was confirmed and revealed yesterday (July 9th) in the online journal Terre de Vins.
In both cases the reason given reflected a perception that the selection and classification criteria had strayed too far from an emphasis on the estate, its vineyards and of course its wine. I am sure these feelings can be traced all the way back to the 2012 classification, when Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc successfully applied for classification, and were joined on the very top rank of the classification by Château Angélus and Château Pavie. It begs the question; in what way and to what extent have the classification criteria changed since both properties felt able to apply and be classified back in 2012?
Will this decision hurt Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc at all? In short, no. The high prices commanded by these wines do not depend on them retaining their ranking in 2022. They have been at the top of the classification for so long, and their wines admired by so many, that their position in the Bordeaux arena is firmly cemented in place. Journalists will still visit. Wines will still be tasted. Merchants will still clamour for an allocation. Bordeaux drinkers will still want to have the wines in their cellars. Does being outside the classification hurt Château Tertre-Roteboeuf in this regard? Hardly.
Will this decision hurt the classification though? Sadly, I think it probably will, although it will not be a mortal blow. Their departure devalues the classification to some extent, although it does not negate the achievements of all those châteaux that won promotion in 2012, including Château Angélus and Château Pavie. and it does not negate the achievements of those that will secure the same in 2022. Quoted in Terre de Vins, the directors at Château Cheval Blanc have been quick to stress that they do not wish to undermine all the hard work of those who have worked to obtain the rank of grand cru classé.
But when the 2022 classification is revealed next year, with some notable promotions expected, it is difficult to imagine these successes not being overshadowed by two very notable absences. (10/7/21)