Bordeaux 1998: St Emilion in 2004

St Emilion is the largest wine commune of Bordeaux, with over 5000 hectares of land entitled to the appellation. Despite this the region was not classified along with the Médoc and Sauternes in 1855, and a century passed before this was rectified. A vital strength of the St Emilion classification is that it is regularly reviewed, although this process has not been free of controversy. The 2006 revision, for example, started the ball rolling towards the eventual collapse of the system following a series of legal challenges brought by a number of proprietors who had lost out, having been demoted in the new ranking.

Bordeaux 1998: St Emilion in 2004

The best sites in St Emilion have long been thought to be the limestone slopes which surround the picturesque town, but in truth there are a variety of terroirs which yield great wines, including gravelly patches adjacent to Pomerol and even sites within the town itself. Nevertheless, the majority of the top estates in St Emilion have some or all of their vineyards on these limestone slopes. The standard-bearers for quality in the appellation are the thirteen Premier Grand Cru Classé estates, which are subcategorised into Class A and Class B. The former includes Cheval Blanc and Ausone, the two greatest properties, all the others being in the latter group. The owners of these thirteen properties, which includes local families as well as luxury brand groups such as Chanel, demonstrate a surprising level of co-operation in marketing St Emilion, which manifests as the Groupement de Premiers Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion.

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