St Emilion has been thrown into turmoil by the decision of Chateaux Ausone and Cheval Blanc not to apply for renewal of their Premier Grand Cru Classé A status.
‘Rather like the UK, we’ve decided to leave a cumbersome, overtly political and unnecessarily bureaucratic system which we feel has been holding us back for years,’ said Ausone’s owner Alain Vote-Away.
‘But unlike the UK we won’t go bankrupt as a result.’
‘You know the quote about not wanting to belong to any club that would have you as a member?’ added Cheval Blanc’s Elle Vié-Maitch ‘Well, in this case we didn’t want to belong to any club that had anyone else as a member.’
A warning from Mondo Troplong of the St Emilion Cru Syndicate for the Production, Export and Sale of Terroir (SECSPEST) that leaving the classification could ‘have a big impact on the marketability of the two chateaux’ was borne out yesterday.
Both Ausone and Cheval Blanc raised their prices by 20% and said that demand had ‘soared’.
Chateau Angelus and Chateau Pavie said that had they realised not being included would have allowed them to put up prices , they would have failed to submit their dossiers too.
Rolland Certan of the Bordeaux Aristocratic Chateaux Owners Fraternity (BACOF) said it was important that the remaining top estates showed unity ‘so that next time we can co-ordinate it so everyone leaves together.’
Putting the comi in tragedy
‘The collapse of the Grand Crus Classé system would be a tragedy,’ said Henri Guillotine of legal firm Bodgitte, Scarpeur et Runne.
‘After all, it has generated a lot of wealth down the years.
‘At least, with all the legal challenges, it has for us lawyers.’
Putting the ass in assessments
SECSPEST told Fake Booze that the departure would act as a ‘wakeup call’ to the appellation, with a ‘more inclusive’ committee of 71 men and one woman already working on alternative classification systems.
‘The days of the old irrelevant categories with too much emphasis on invasive critics’ scores are over,’ Mondot told Fake Booze. ‘It is time to make assessments based on things that really matter.’
These include length of driveway, number of servants, and quality of visitors’ bathroom.
‘The latter is very important,’ he said. ‘Taking the piss is a large part of what Bordeaux is about.’
To take account of the new thinking, the team are already considering extending the Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘a little bit’ from the existing A and B sub-sets.
Running from Premier Grand Cru Classé AAA down to Premier Grand Cru Classé ZZZ the several thousand new rating categories would, Troplong said, ‘allow us to elevate the quality of all our estates to Premier Grand Cru Classé status – even the crap ones.’
Putting the ‘ir’ in relevant
‘With these prospective changes, we are confident that we can judge our estates irrespective of class, race, sex, religion or, indeed, wine quality,’ he told Fake Booze.
‘And make Bordeaux just as fair, relevant and forward thinking as it’s always been.
‘Which is not very.’
Read here about this year’s soaraway en primeur campaign