St Emilion’s class struggle

4th January, 2013 by db_staff - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2

The recent St Émilion reclassification leads Mark Savage MW to question whether terroir is still valued as an indicator of quality.

The revision was bound to raise the odd eyebrow, even among people who are dubious about classifications in general, while recognising an element in the human psyche that enjoys belonging to a club or being part of an establishment hierarchy, writes Mark Savage MW.

St EmilionThose who prefer to be non-conformist in this respect are probably a minority. Certainly when it comes to being in the Syndicat des Grands Crus Classés de St Émilion, there seems to be a strong desire among most château proprietors for the status conferred by membership. Whether the actual consumer knows or cares about this sort of thing is rather more debatable.

Revisions of classifications may cause some of us to stop and ask ourselves what purpose they are intended to serve and what criteria are important for inclusion. As with the appellation system in general, it needs to be considered whether it best serves the interest of the producer or the consumer.

Some may still harbour the notion that the important factor is the actual “terroir” of the vineyard concerned and its supposed superiority, as evidenced by a successful track record over an extended period of time. The logic and advantage of this concept is surely that its roots lie in something permanent, that there is in fact a natural rather than a man-made reason behind it.

It’s fairly well-established that the famous 1855 classification of the Médoc was based on money rather than on specific soils and it seems perfectly acceptable for a first growth to acquire a parcel of vines whose fruit had previously had no loftier destination than the local co-op. By contrast, in the Côte d’Or individual sites are considered to be of primordial significance and each cru produced by a domaine will have a price that corresponds to a status firmly entrenched in the belief that the very specific “terroir” really makes a difference.

Where does the Syndicat de St Émilion stand on this issue today? Is the view that the actual location of the vineyard as the prime criterion is now beginning to look naïve, if not rather quaint? The driving forces behind the latest revision seem to have more to do with money and politics than intrinsic terroir superiority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Brand Ambassador – Santa Rita Estates

Santa Rita Estates
London or Hertfordshire but with flexibility to travel, UK

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Conviviality
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more