Tuesday, October 16, 2018

LeDomduVin: The 1955 Classification of Saint-Emilion Wines - Will They ever get it right?





The 1955 Classification of Saint-Emilion Wines

Will They ever get it right? 



I wrote this post following a conversation I had with two friends. ("D" is me, obviously... ūüėÄūüĎćūüć∑)


D: Prior to talking about the 1955 Classification, let's clarify a few important points about the classification of the wines of Saint-Emilion in general...


It is important to know that, since 1984, there have been only 2 "Appellations" in Saint-Emilion
  1. AOC Saint-Emilion
  2. AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
The AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is then divided as follows: 
  1. Premiers Grands Crus Classés A
  2. Premiers Grands Crus Classés B
  3. Grands Crus Classés
  4. Grands Crus

J: Wait a minute... How come there are "Grands Crus Class√©s" and "Grands Crus"? Are they not the same thing? 

D: I know it is confusing for most people, and that is why I wanted to clarify this point. 


A Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is not necessarily a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Class√©


The request to be part of the classification is at the initiative of the Chateau owners/producers. 

To be part of the classification, they must file an official record for each vintage, and the vineyard conditions and management must respond to very specific and strict mandatory criteria fixed by the INAO. 

For example, to benefit the "Saint-Emilion Grand Cru" appellation, the estate vineyard's yield must be 40 hl/ha, and the wine must be aged 12 months minimum. (If you understand and read French, you can find all the specific details of "Cahier des Charges des vins de "Saint-Emilion" here). 

As the classification ranking is reviewed every 10 years, producers must submit these official records for all the previously graded vintages. That way, new producers can submit their files to enter the classification, and existing producers can continue their efforts to maintain (or retain) their rank.

Also, to enter the classification, producers are also subject to a mandatory tasting of the last 10 or 15 vintages to determine the wine's quality, consistency, and evolution over time. Inconsistencies in taste and quality often lead to failure.


D: To help clarify, I made this Saint-Emilion Classification Pyramid (a visual is often better than words)... 


Saint-Emilion Classification Pyramide © LeDomduVin 2018



N: Ah, I see. It's definitely clearer now. So what about the 1955 classification? 


The first classification of Saint-Emilion Wines... and the following ones... 


The Classification of Saint-Emilion wines is a controversial and complicated subject that has been written about countless times by journalists, wine critics, and wine columnists since its creation back in 1955. 



N: Wait.. 1955? Are you sure? I thought it was created in 1954, wasn't it? 

J: Well, I thought it was 1958... so, not sure, but everybody refers to it as "The 1955 Classification" ... 

D: Well, guys, let me try to explain it to you in the most simple way and tell you what really happened to put an end to the polemics about when it was created... ok? 

N: Thanks, D, it would be good to know because it is quite confusing...

D: The history of this classification began in 1954... 



It all started when the "Syndicat de D√©fense de l’Appellation Saint-√Čmilion" (Syndicate of Defense of the Saint-√Čmilion Appellation) requested the "Institut National des Appellations d’Origine" (INAO) to proceed to the classification of the crus of this appellation, via the decree of October 7th, 1954. 

Created in 1935 and controlled by the government under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, the role of the INAO is to ensure the recognition and protection of official signs identifying the quality and origin of agriculture, food, and forestry.

The INAO (nowadays called "The Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualit√©") is the French organization in charge of regulating French agricultural products and implementing French policy on official signs of identification of the origin and quality of agricultural and food products, with Protected Designations of Origin such as: 
  • AOC: Appellation d'Origine Contr√īl√©e 
  • AOP: Appellation d'Origine Proteg√©e (PDO: Protected Designation of Origin), 
  • IGP: Indication G√©ographique Prot√©g√©e (PGI: Protected Geographical Indication), 
  • STG: Sp√©cialit√© Traditionnelle Garantie (TSG: Traditional Specialty Guaranteed), 
  • LR: Label Rouge 
  • AB: Agriculture Biologique (organic farming)


D: So, the INAO started the classification in 1954... 



N: Ah! You see J, I was right...



J: (sigh...)

D: Well, you were both right... As it started in 1954 and was officially recognized when it was first published in 1955, but it was not homologated until 1958... 

J: Ah! You see... well, that makes us even now N...

N: (sigh...)

D: In fact, the Classification was homologated with the Order of August 7th, 1958, supplemented by the Order of October 18th, 1958, approving the classification of the wines within the "Saint-Emilion" appellation contr√īl√©e (published in the Official Journal of August 20th, 1958 and the Official Journal of October 31, 1958)

D: the 1st Article of the Order says: 

"The classification of the wines of the Saint-Emilion appellation is approved in accordance with the provisions of the decree of October 7, 1954, as amended by the decree of 18 October 1958."




1955 Classification of Saint-Emilion Timeline by ©LeDomduVin2018


The first Classification of 1955 included the following (by Alphabetical order)


2 Premiers Grands Crus Classés A
  • Ch√Ęteau Ausone
  • Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc

10 Premiers Grands Crus Classés B
  • Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (Dufau)
  • Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (Fagouet) 
  • Ch√Ęteau Belair 
  • Ch√Ęteau Canon 
  • Ch√Ęteau Figeac 
  • Ch√Ęteau La Gaffeli√®re-Naudes 
  • Ch√Ęteau Magdelaine 
  • Ch√Ęteau Pavie 
  • Ch√Ęteau Trottevieille 
  • Clos Fourtet

63 Grands Crus Classés

Ch√Ęteau L’Arros√©e, Ch√Ęteau L’Ang√©lus, Ch√Ęteau Balestard la Tonnelle, Ch√Ęteau Bellevue, Ch√Ęteau Bergat, Ch√Ęteau Cadet-Bon, Ch√Ęteau Cadet Piola, Ch√Ęteau Canon la Gaffeli√®re, Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin, Ch√Ęteau Chapelle de Madeleine, Ch√Ęteau Chauvin, Ch√Ęteau Corbin (Giraud), Ch√Ęteau Corbin Michotte, Ch√Ęteau Coutet, Ch√Ęteau Croque Michotte, Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon, Ch√Ęteau Fonpl√©gade, Ch√Ęteau Fonroque, Ch√Ęteau Franc Mayne, Ch√Ęteau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Fiegeac, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin Despagne, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin Pecresse, Ch√Ęteau Grand Mayne, Ch√Ęteau Grand Pontet, Ch√Ęteau Grandes Murailles, Ch√Ęteau Guadet Saint-Julien, Ch√Ęteau Jean Faure, Ch√Ęteau La Carte, Ch√Ęteau La Clotte, Ch√Ęteau La Clusi√®re, Ch√Ęteau La Couspaude, Ch√Ęteau La Dominique, Ch√Ęteau Larcis Ducasse, Ch√Ęteau Lamarzelle, Ch√Ęteau Larmande, Ch√Ęteau Laroze, Ch√Ęteau La Serre, Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (Giraud), Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (Moueix), Ch√Ęteau La Tour Figeac, Ch√Ęteau Le Ch√Ętelet, Ch√Ęteau Le Couvent, Ch√Ęteau Le Prieur√©, Ch√Ęteau Mauvezin, Ch√Ęteau Moulin du Cadet, Ch√Ęteau Pavie-Decesse, Ch√Ęteau Pavie-Macquin, Ch√Ęteau Pavillon-Cadet, Ch√Ęteau Petit Faurie de Souchard, Ch√Ęteau Petit-Faurie-de-Soutard, Ch√Ęteau Ripeau, Ch√Ęteau Sansonnet, Ch√Ęteau St-Georges-C√īte-Pavie, Ch√Ęteau Soutard, Ch√Ęteau Tertre Daugay, Ch√Ęteau Trimoulet, Ch√Ęteau Trois Moulins, Ch√Ęteau Troplong-Mondot, Ch√Ęteau Villemaurine, Ch√Ęteau Yon-Figeac, Clos des Jacobins, Clos La Madeleine, Clos Saint-Martin


D: And that's about it really... Is it clearer now? 

N: Yes, I better understand now, started in 1954, first published in 1955, homologated in 1958

D: that's right...

J: But this classification has been revised a few times since then, so what happened after the first classification

D: Well,... the 1954 decree stated that the INAO must revise the classification every 10 years. 


Six classifications have been established since 1954:



Saint-Emilion 6 Classifications Timeline by ©LeDomduVin2018




1955, First Classification  (refer to details above and/or check the full list of the classified Chateaux here)



1969, 2nd Classification (see the full list of the classified Chateaux here)

The 2nd Classification, homologated by the Order of November 17th, 1969, included 
  • 2 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s A (Unchanged from 1955 - still Ausone and Cheval Blanc)
  • 10 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s B, including the following changes
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (H√©ritier Duffau-Lagarrosse) (formerly a part of Beaus√©jour (Fagouet), split 50/50 between the 2 children of Chateau Beaus√©jour's Owner Pierre-Paulin Ducarpe.
  • 72 Grands Crus Class√©s, including the following changes (compared to the 1955 Classification)
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Baleau, Ch√Ęteau Dassault, Ch√Ęteau Faurie de Souchard, Ch√Ęteau Haut Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Haut Sarpe, Ch√Ęteau Laniote, Ch√Ęteau Matras, Ch√Ęteau l’Oratoire, Couvent des Jacobins
    • Division of Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin in 2 estates: Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin (R) and Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin (J)
    • Division of Ch√Ęteau Corbin in 2 estates Ch√Ęteau Corbin (Giraud) and Ch√Ęteau Corbin (Michotte)
    • Division of Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (Moueix) with Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (B√©livier)
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Petit-Faurie-de-Soutard



1986, 3rd Classification (see the full list of the classified Chateaux here)

The 3rd Classification, homologated by the Decree of May 23rd, 1986 (approving the classification of the crus of the wines of appellation contr√īl√©e "Saint-Emilion Grand Cru" and repealing the provisions of the Decree of 17 November 1969 (Official Journal of 27 May 1986)), included

  • 2 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s A (Unchanged from 1955 - still Ausone and Cheval Blanc)
  • 9 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s B, including the following changes
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (Fagouet) renamed Ch√Ęteau Beau-S√©jour B√©cot
    • Ch√Ęteau La Gaffeli√®re-Naudes changed the name to Ch√Ęteau La Gaffeli√®re 
  • 63 Grands Crus Class√©s, including the following changes (compared to 1969 Classification)
    • Promotion of  Ch√Ęteau Beau-S√©jour B√©cot (previously named Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (Fagouet)
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Berliquet, Clos de L'Oratoire
    • Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin (J) and (R) changed its name to Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin
    • Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon changed its name to Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon la Madeleine
    • Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin Pecresse changed its name to Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin
    • Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (B√©livier) changed name to Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (Giraud-B√©livier)
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Baleau, Ch√Ęteau Cadet-Bon, Ch√Ęteau Chapelle de Madeleine, Ch√Ęteau Coutet, Ch√Ęteau Grandes Murailles, Ch√Ęteau Jean Faure, Ch√Ęteau l’Oratoire, Ch√Ęteau La Carte, Ch√Ęteau La Couspaude, Ch√Ęteau Trois Moulins


1996, 4th Classification (see the full list of Chateaux here)

The 4th Classification, homologated by the decree of November 8th, 1996, included

  • 2 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s A (Unchanged from 1955 - still Ausone and Cheval Blanc)
  • 11 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s B, including the following changes
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Ang√©lus and Ch√Ęteau Beau-S√©jour B√©cot 
  • 55 Grands Crus Class√©s, including the following changes (compared to 1986 Classification)
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Cadet Bon, Ch√Ęteau La Couspaude, Ch√Ęteau Laroque, Ch√Ęteau Les Grandes Murailles
    • Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon la Madeleine change its name to Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon
    • Ch√Ęteau Lamarzelle and Ch√Ęteau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac become Ch√Ęteau La Marzelle
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Croque Michotte, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin Despagne, Ch√Ęteau Le Ch√Ętelet, Ch√Ęteau Mauvezin, Ch√Ęteau Pavillon Cadet, Ch√Ęteau Sansonnet, Ch√Ęteau Trimoulet and Clos La Madeleine


2006, 5th Classification (see the full list of Chateaux here)

In September 2006, the fifth classification was announced but was challenged by producers that had been demoted from "Grand Cru Class√©" to "Grand Cru" only:  Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac, Ch√Ęteau Cadet Bon, Ch√Ęteau Guadet and Ch√Ęteau de la Marzelle. 

Legal actions were taken to dispute the 2006 Classification, and in the end, it was declared invalid. The classification of 1996 was reinstated between 2006 and 2009, and a new classification was made after that, but it took another 3 years of back and forths (indecision, delay, dispute, disagreement, etc..) prior to the Classification of 2012.   

It included:

  • 2 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s A (Unchanged from 1955 - still Ausone and Cheval Blanc)
  • 13 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s B, including the following changes
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Pavie-Macquin and Ch√Ęteau Troplong-Mondot
  • 46 Grands Crus Class√©s, including the following changes (compared to 1996 Classification)
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Bellefont-Belcier, Ch√Ęteau Destieux, Ch√Ęteau Fleur-Cardinale, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin-Despagne, Ch√Ęteau Monbousquet
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Bellevue, Ch√Ęteau Cadet Bon, Ch√Ęteau Cur√© Bon, Ch√Ęteau Faurie de Souchard, Ch√Ęteau Guadet Saint-Julien, Ch√Ęteau La Clusi√®re, Ch√Ęteau La Marzelle, Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (Giraud-B√©livier), Ch√Ęteau La Tour du Pin Figeac (J.M. Moueix), Ch√Ęteau Petit Faurie de Soutard, Ch√Ęteau Tertre Daugay, Ch√Ęteau Villemaurine, Ch√Ęteau Yon Figeac


2012, the 6th and latest Classification (see the full list of Chateaux here) 

The 6th Classification took much longer than expected to be finalized due to legal wrangling. It was published on September 6, 2012, and was homologated by the order of October 29th, 2012. It resulted from a new procedure, entirely under the authority of the INAO, with the assistance of the Ministries of Agriculture and Food.

It includes: 
  • 4 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s A (including 2 promotions)
    • Ch√Ęteau Ang√©lus (promoted in 2012)
    • Ch√Ęteau Ausone
    • Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc
    • Ch√Ęteau Pavie (promoted in 2012)
  • 14 Premiers Grands Crus Class√©s B (including 5 promotions)
    • Ch√Ęteau Beaus√©jour (h√©ritiers Duffau-Lagarrosse)
    • Ch√Ęteau Beau S√©jour-B√©cot
    • Ch√Ęteau Bel Air-Monange (including Ch√Ęteau Magdelaine) (*)
    • Ch√Ęteau Canon
    • Ch√Ęteau Canon la Gaffeli√®re
    • Ch√Ęteau Figeac
    • Clos Fourtet
    • Ch√Ęteau la Gaffeli√®re
    • Ch√Ęteau Larcis Ducasse (promoted in 2012)
    • La Mondotte (promoted in 2012)
    • Ch√Ęteau Pavie Macquin (promoted in 2006, then 2012)
    • Ch√Ęteau Troplong Mondot (promoted in 2006, then 2012)
    • Ch√Ęteau Trottevieille
    • Ch√Ęteau Valandraud (promoted in 2012)

(*) Classified B since the first classification in 1955, Ch√Ęteau Magdelaine was confirmed again and classified as Grand Cru Class√© B, in 2012, by the INAO. However, the estate, acquired in 1952 by Mr. Jean-Pierre Moueix (a Bordeaux N√©gociant and wine merchant, founder of the Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix in Libourne), was merged with Ch√Ęteau Bel Air-Monange, the other first contiguous Grand Cru Class√© B, acquired by the Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix in 2008.

  • 64 Grands Crus Class√©s, including the following changes (compared to the 2006 Classification)
    • Promotion of Ch√Ęteau Barde-Haut, Ch√Ęteau Bellevue, Ch√Ęteau Cadet-Bon, Ch√Ęteau Clos de Sarpe, Ch√Ęteau C√īte de Baleau, Ch√Ęteau de Ferrand, Ch√Ęteau de Pressac, Ch√Ęteau Faug√®res, Ch√Ęteau Faurie de Souchard, Ch√Ęteau Fleur Cardinale, Ch√Ęteau Fombrauge, Ch√Ęteau Guadet, Ch√Ęteau Jean Faure, Ch√Ęteau la Commanderie, Ch√Ęteau La Fleur Morange Mathilde, Ch√Ęteau la Marzelle, Ch√Ęteau le Chatelet, Ch√Ęteau Peby Faug√®res, Ch√Ęteau Petit Faurie de Soutard, Ch√Ęteau Quinault l’Enclos, Ch√Ęteau Rochebelle, Ch√Ęteau Sansonnet, Ch√Ęteau Tertre Daugay, Ch√Ęteau Villemaurine, Ch√Ęteau Yon-Figeac, Clos la Madeleine
    • Demotion of Ch√Ęteau Bergat, Ch√Ęteau Cadet Piola, Ch√Ęteau Corbin Michotte, Ch√Ęteau Haut Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Larcis Ducasse, Ch√Ęteau Matras, 
    • Unchanged: Ch√Ęteau Balestard la Tonnelle, Ch√Ęteau Bellefont Belcier, Ch√Ęteau Berliquet, Ch√Ęteau Cap de Mourlin, Ch√Ęteau Chauvin, Ch√Ęteau Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Dassault, Ch√Ęteau Destieux, Ch√Ęteau Fonpl√©gade, Ch√Ęteau Fonroque, Ch√Ęteau Franc Mayne, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin, Ch√Ęteau Grand Corbin Despagne, Ch√Ęteau Grand Mayne, Ch√Ęteau Grand-Pontet, Ch√Ęteau Haut-Sarpe, Ch√Ęteau l’Arros√©e, Ch√Ęteau la Clotte, Ch√Ęteau la Couspaude, Ch√Ęteau la Dominique, Ch√Ęteau la Serre, Ch√Ęteau la Tour Figeac, Ch√Ęteau Laniote, Ch√Ęteau Larmande, Ch√Ęteau Laroque, Ch√Ęteau Laroze , Ch√Ęteau Le Prieur√©, Ch√Ęteau les Grandes Murailles, Ch√Ęteau Monbousquet, Ch√Ęteau Moulin du Cadet, Ch√Ęteau Pavie Decesse, Ch√Ęteau Ripeau, Ch√Ęteau Saint-Georges-Cote-Pavie, Ch√Ęteau Soutard, Clos de l’Oratoire, Clos des Jacobins, Clos Saint-Martin, and Couvent des Jacobins



That's all, folks! For today... I hope you enjoyed this post, and I also hope the Saint-Emilion classifications feel clearer now (at least for some of you).... if you enjoyed reading it, then stay tuned for posts like this one in the near future. 

Cheers! Santé!

Dominique No√ęl a.k.a. LeDomduVin 


Most info taken or partly taken from "Les Vins de Saint-Emilion" website at https://en.vins-saint-emilion.com/   and thank you to Mr. Franck Binard, General Director of "Les Vins de Saint-Emilion", for his cooperation (he will understand what I mean). 


@ledomduvin #ledomduvin #saintemilion #grandscrusclasses #wine #bordeaux #saintemilionclassification #classification #vin #vino #wein #france #wineknowledge #wineeducation #lesillustrationsadom 


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