Pauline Vauthier, winemaker and co-manager of Château Ausone, has gone on record to voice her anger over the St Emilion classification, dubbing it “a big mess.”
Last September, Pavie and Angélus were promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A status, joining Ausone and Cheval Blanc at the top of the tier.
During an en primeur tasting of Ausone last week, Vautheir told the drinks business about her dissatisfaction with and disapproval of the re-classification.
“The whole thing is a big mess and a mistake. I don’t even use the “Premier Grand Cru Classé A” title on our marketing material anymore as I’m keen to distance myself from the situation.
“A lot of mistakes were made in the reclassification and now the lawyers are involved.
“Three châteaux are challenging the ranking, which could throw the whole thing into disrepute – we’ll find out the answer in three weeks,” she said.
The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) is facing legal challenges from three demoted estates: Croque-Michotte, Corbin-Michotte and La Tour-du-Pin-Figeac.
All three filed individual appeals to a Bordeaux administrative tribunal in January demanding the annulment of the classification.
Meanwhile, Pierre-Olivier Clouet, technical director of Château Cheval Blanc, told db he was equally skeptical about the classification.
“I’m not sure it’s a good thing. It’s seems too easy that if you ask to be promoted you get it. Having too many Premier Grand Cru Classé As is not good for St Emilion’s image.
“I think Angélus was promoted more for its notoriety than the quality of its terroir. It’s at the bottom of the hill, that hasn’t and won’t ever change,” he said.
“Hubert de Bouard did a great job with getting his wine into Casino Royale and was president of the St Emilion Syndicate for nine years – it’s all very political,” he said.
Following the initial challenge to this classification at the end of 2012, Alain Moueix, president of the St Emilion Grands Crus Classés Association, defended its methods in an interview with the drinks business. However, members of the UK trade have expressed concern about the classification’s limited emphasis on terroir.