Monday, January 28, 2013

The Saint Emilion 2012–2022 Classification, Bordeaux

Picture: Jean-Bernard Grenié, Co-owner of Château Angélus and Christian G.E. Schiller in Washington DC

When the new Saint Emilion classification was released on September 6, 2012, I was visiting Saint Emilion. On that day, I visited Château Canon La Gaffelière, promoted to Premièr Grand Cru Classé B on that day, Château Beauséjour, in the satellite appellation Puisseguin Saint-Emilion and a regular Saint Emilion AOC and organic producer, Château de Figeac, Saint-Emilion, also a Premièr Grand Cru Classé B, which missed out on a promotion to a Premièr Grand Cru Classé A and Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf, that is clearly at the Premièr Grand Cru level, but owner/winemaker Francois Mitjaville does not bother to apply for being included in the classification; thus, Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf remains an ultra-premium unclassified St. Emilion estate.

For more see:
Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

I have already provided a general introduction to the main elements, the history and the problems I have with the Saint Emilion classification. This posting focuses on the new 2012-2022 classification.

Saint Emilion Wines and their Classification, Bordeaux, France

The St. Émilion Classification

Admittedly, Pomerol does not have a classification of its wines until this very day, but the St. Émilion classification was introduced late, only in 1955, 100 years after the Medoc classification had been released. Importantly, in contrast to the Medoc classification of 1855, which is set in stone, the Saint Emilion classification is revised periodically.

Pictures: St. Émilion

Classified estates are grouped into three levels (with descending  quality level):

St. Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A
St. Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe B
St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe

In addition, St. Emilion has 2 appellations:

Appellation St. Emilion Grand Cru Controle, and
Appellation St. Emilion Controle, with somewhat less strict requirements.

Taken together, the classification and the appellation systems represent a quality ladder with 5 steps. In terms of volumes, AOC Saint-Emilion accounts for about 50% of total production, unclassified AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru for about 30%, Grand Cru Classe for about 15% and 1. Grand Cru Classe for about 5%.

The 2012-2022 Classification

It was with the release of a new classification in 2006 that a huge controversy began that only ended with the release of the 2012 classification. Too many estates were displeased with the classification of 2006 – 2016 and started to fight it. Following 3 years of legal wrangling, the classification was annulled by the courts (and then eventually partially reinstated).

In order to avoid the melodrama of the 2006 classification, for the 2012 classification, the authorities tried to establish as large as possible a wedge between the chateaux to be judged and the judges: The St.-Emilion Wine Syndicate and Bordeaux wine trade were no longer involved. The jury comprised seven wine professionals, all from outside the Bordeaux region. The authorities also brought in two independent bodies - Qualisud for organizing the tasting and Veritas-certification for ensuring the application process was correctly carried out.

Picture: In the cellar with Francois Mitjaville who does not bother to apply for being included in the classification, although his Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf is an ultra-premium wine

Estates were graded - on a scale of 20 - on 4 criteria: tasting, reputation, estate and terroir, estate practices. The weighting of the criteria was different for the Grand Cru Classé (GCC) and Premier Grand Cru Classé (PGCC):

•    Tasting - GCC 50%, PGCC 30%
•    Reputation - GCC 20%, PGCC 35%
•    Estate and terroirs - GCC 20%, PGCC 30%
•    Estate practices - GCC 10%, PGCC 5%

To become Grand Cru Classé, chateaux had to score at least 14 out of 20, to become Premier Grand Cru Classé, at least 16 out of 20.

96 estates applied of which 68 asked to be recognized as Grand Cru Classé and 28 as Premier Grand Cru Classé. In total, 82 properties have been classified into three tiers: Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Premier Grand Cru Classé B and Grand Cru Classé.

The following is the list as published in September 6th, 2012. The promotions are marked by *.

Premiers Grands Crus Classés - A

•    Château Angélus*
•    Château Ausone
•    Château Cheval Blanc
•    Château Pavie*

Picture: Château Angélus

For more, see:
Owner Jean-Bernard Grenié and Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos Presented the Wines of Chateau Angélus and Chateau Daugay at Black Salt Restaurant in Washington DC, USA

Premiers Grands Crus Classés - B

•    Château Beau-Séjour Bécot
•    Château Beauséjour  (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
•    Château Bélair-Monange
•    Château Canon
•    Château Canon-la-Gaffelière*
•    Château Figeac
•    Clos Fourtet
•    Château La Gaffelière
•    Château Larcis-Ducasse*
•    Château La Mondotte*
•    Château Pavie-Macquin
•    Château Troplong-Mondot
•    Château Trottevieille
•    Château Valandraud*

Picture: In the Cellar of Château Figeac

For more, see: 
Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion - A Profile, France

Grands Crus Classés

•    Château L'Arrosée
•    Château Balestard La Tonnelle
•    Château Barde-Huet*
•    Château Bellefont-Belcier
•    Château Bellevue
•    Château Berliquet
•    Château Cadet-Bon
•    Château Cap de Mourlin
•    Château Le Chatelet*
•    Château Chauvin
•    Château Clos de Sarpe*
•    Château La Clotte
•    Château La Commanderie*
•    Château Corbin
•    Château Côte de Baleau*
•    Château La Couspaude
•    Château Dassault
•    Château Destieux
•    Château La Dominique
•    Château Faugères*
•    Château Faurie-de-Souchard
•    Château de Ferrand*
•    Château Fleur-Cardinale
•    Château La Fleur Morange*
•    Château Fombrauge*
•    Château Fonplégade
•    Château Fonroque
•    Château Franc-Mayne
•    Château Grand-Corbin
•    Château Grand-Corbin-Despagne
•    Château Grand-Mayne
•    Château Grand-Pontet
•    Château Les Grandes-Murailles
•    Château Guadet
•    Château Haut Sarpe
•    Clos des Jacobins
•    Couvent des Jacobins
•    Château Jean Faure*
•    Château Laniote
•    Château Larmande
•    Château Laroque
•    Château Laroze
•    Clos La Madeleine*
•    Château La Marzelle
•    Château Monbousquet
•    Château Moulin du Cadet
•    Clos de l'Oratoire
•    Château Pavie-Decesse
•    Château Péby-Faugères*
•    Château Petit Faurie de Soutard
•    Château de Pressac*
•    Château Le Prieuré
•    Château Quinault L'Enclos*
•    Château Ripeau
•    Château Rochebelle*
•    Château St-Georges Côte-Pavie
•    Clos St-Martin
•    Château Sansonnet*
•    Château La Serre
•    Château Soutard
•    Château Tertre-Daugay
•    Château La Tour Figeac
•    Château Villemaurine
•    Château Yon-Figeac

Château Angélus + Château Pavie joined Château Ausone + Château Cheval Blanc at Premier Grand Cru Classé A

World-famous chateaux Ausone and Cheval Blanc have had the Premier Grand Cru Classe A category to themselves since the classification began in 1955. Chateau Angelus and Chateau Pavie, the next most expensive Saint-Emilions at $300 to $400, have now joined them.

Promotions to Premier Grand Cru Classés B

The following 4 producers were elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé B status, making a total of 14 chateaux with the designation of Premier Grand Cru Classé B status:

Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere
Chateau Larcis Ducasse
La Mondotte

La Mondotte and Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere are both owned and run by Count Stephan von Neipperg. Initially, he had wanted to include La Mondotte in Canon-la-Gaffelière, but the authorities refused, saying that he could never make wine of the quality of Canon-La-Gaffelière at La Mondotte. Chateau Mondotte jumped straight to Premier Grand Cru Classé B.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Count Stephan von Neipperg at Canon-la-Gaffelière and his wines

For more on the wines of  Count Stephan von Neipper, see:
The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany

Jean-Luc Thunevin’s Chateau Valandraud has also been promoted straight to Premier Grand Cru Classé B without passing first to Grand Cru Classé. Some 20 years ago he was dissed by the region’s traditional winemakers as a “garagiste” upstart and called “the bad boy of Bordeaux.”

17 Newt Editions to Grand Cru Classe 

Today 63 estates share the honor of Grand Cru Classe status. The 17 newest editions to Grand Cru Classe are:

Chateau Cote de Baleau
Chateau Barde Haut
Chateau Le Chatelet
Chateau Clos de Sarpe
Chateau Clos La Madeleine
Chateau La Commanderie
Chateau  Faugeres
Chateau de Ferrand
Chateau Fombrauge
Chateau La Fleur Morange
Chateau Jean Faure
Chateau La Marzelle
Chateau Peby Faugeres
Chateau de Pressac
Chateau Quinault l’Enclos
Chateau Rochebelle
Chateau Sansonnet

Reportedly, a Grand Cru Classe sells for 1.5 million Euros to 3 million Euros per hectare, 3 to 5 times more than one in the basic Saint-Emilion grand cru appellation. A Premier Grand Cru Classe sells for 2.5 million to 4.5 million Euros per hectar.


A total of 4 chateaux were demoted. Magdelaine lost the Premier Grand Cru Classe status and Chateau Bergat, Chateau Cadet Piola and Chateau Corbin Michotte lost their Grand Cru Classe status.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Bordeaux Wines and their Classifications: The Basics

Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion - A Profile, France

A Glass of Bordeaux – What Else? – With Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos

Château Brane-Cantenac, Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, Margaux – A Profile, France

Bordeaux Trip September 2012, France

The 5 Premiers Grands Crus Chateaux en 1855 of Bordeaux, France

The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany

Tasting with Alfred Tesseron the last 10 Vintages of Château Pontet-Canet in Washington DC, USA/France

Tasting the Wines of Chateau Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe, 4ème Cru Classé en 1855, with Owner Basil Tesseron at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA/France

Château Léoville-Poyferré, Chateau Le Crock, Didier Cuvelier in Bordeaux and the Cuvelier Los Andes Wines in Argentina

Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Returning to Washington DC, USA

Saint Emilion Wines and their Classification, Bordeaux, France

Owner Jean-Bernard Grenié and Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos Presented the Wines of Chateau Angélus and Chateau Daugay at Black Salt Restaurant in Washington DC, USA 


  1. A quick comment to say that only 30% of total production is AOC Saint Emilion (2011 - 76 000Hl), the rest being AOC Saint Grand Cru and above (2011 - 171 000Hl).

  2. Interesting. And how much is "above", i.e."Classé"?

  3. So I found the datas in ha for you (from 2011 vintage):
    AOC Saint Emilion: 1500 ha
    AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru only: 2650 ha
    AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé and above: (212 classificatio): 1300 ha