Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saint Emilion classification and controversy

Saint Emilion’s trade organization sent us the draft of the new rules set by the INAO for the next Saint Emilion classification.

The facts in short:
The last classification was supposed to go until 2016. Complaints from some demoted properties cancelled the 2006 classification, and since then, there is a classification with promoted and demoted and newly promoted until 2012.
The project proposed by the INAO today proposes that 50% of the note represents the quality of wine, 20% notoriety, 20% for the terroir and 10% for winemaking facilities and reception rooms.

I simply:
As of now, I know many people in favor of these new rules, but also some very strongly opposed with basically two arguments against the new rules: too much emphasis given to tasting and the outside jury + INAO.

They propose 3 alternatives, depending on the interest of one or the other:
1/ 1/3 for tasting, 1/3 for the price and notoriety, 1/3 for the terroir
2/ nothing changes for everyone with the current classification, classified, demoted, newly promoted until 2016.
3/ End the renewable classification and keep the last one like the style of 1855’s system, in other words, no more classification.
It is difficult; indeed, for everyone to agree about such a project. Each person will have the means (more or less) to intervene with the policy makers, ministers, the president, even the administration or the commission.

Everyone must defend his ideas, interests, but as always in a democracy, the collective happiness has to prevail over the interests of one person.
In addition to local squabbles, there are so many interests as well as different situations - a 1st growth doesn’t want to be demoted, a candidate wants to be eligible, a demoted property wants to be part of it, a non-classified finds it normal to be eligible, so in addition to local problems, I don’t think that our trader friends and Bordeaux brokerage firms don’t have as well an opinion, and I'm not talking about 1855 classification or even the unclassified properties in 1855!

There are two important issues in any case. Is there still a place for Crus classified A, similar to 1st growths classified in 1855? In this case are the 8 first growths open for new contenders for this status? Does the market want it anyway?
As for me who loves Saint Emilion and as always Likes to be a bit provocative, I think that there is no reason that Pauillac, with its 1200 hectares (1966 acres), has 3 Premiers Crus (Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild since 1973) and St. Emilion, with 5,500 hectares - 13,590.8 acres - (of which at least 3000 are top level) is not also entitled to 6 classified growths and, anyway, the 6 of them together don’t even get close to the number of bottles produced by Lafite Rothschild (and I do not factor in the second wine!)

So, here are my thoughts offered for this new year, as long as there is some time left .

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