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The dispute over the classification of wines from the right bank flares up again

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Tensions around the 2012 classification of wines from the Right Bank have resurfaced as three chateaux filed complaints in Bordeaux this week.

Châteaux La Tour du Pin Figeac, Corbin-Michotte and Croque-Michotte believe they have been harmed in the latest classification and filed a complaint on Tuesday with the administrative court of Bordeaux.

These three areas were all losers in the 2012 classification: La Tour du Pin Figeac and Croque-Michotte were not promoted to the rank of Grand Cru Classé, while Corbin-Michotte lost this status.

They began legal action in 2013 and a verdict on the current complaint is expected in two months.

The accusations of Pierre Carle, the owner of Croque-Michotte, relate mainly to the question of the terroir: his vines are located only a few hundred meters from those of Pétrus, Cheval Blanc and Gazin. Since 2012, some market players have expressed concern about the fact that the classification does not seem to pay attention to the terroir.

Indeed, in 2014, in his book entitled Wine Business, French journalist Isabelle Saporta harshly criticized the classification, which she found representative of many of the current problems of French wine regions.

Calling the owners of the big castles "cruel", she even went so far as to claim that they rigged the results to ensure they remained at the top and that the parking spaces for visitors and the comfort of the conference rooms were more taken into account only the quality of the wine. This book got him into legal trouble.

The fury and unease around the classification are such that some estates have sought to distance themselves from it, such as the owner of Château Ausone, who thinks that the classification is a “great mess”.

For many, the presence in the original jury of Hubert de Boüard, the owner of Angélus, promoted to the rank of Grand Cru Classé A, also poses a problem.

The rankings committee maintains that it remains committed to what it describes as high standards and transparency.

Rupert Millar

December 9, 2015

The Drinks Business

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