Château Angélus owner speaks out after being found guilty in Saint-Emilion rankings scandal
Château Angélus co-owner Hubert de Boüard has condemned as “an injustice” a court decision to fine him €60,000 for illegally manipulating the St-Emilion classification system in 2012.
Speaking in London a day after a judge in Bordeaux found him guilty of an “illegal taking of interest” in the drawing up of the classification, de Boüard said he would be consulting his lawyer further on the matter, but had not yet decided whether or not to appeal.
“Everything I have done, I have done for the collective,” he said. “This is an injustice.”
The Bordeaux District Court fined de Boüard €60,000, €20,000 of it suspended, with Judge Denis Roucou ruling that de Boüard’s actions went beyond a passive conflict of interest, Wine-searcher reported.
At the time of the drawing up of the 2012 St-Emilion classification, de Boüard and co-defendant Philippe Castéja held senior positions in national appellations body the INAO, and de Boüard was also a senior figure in St-Emilion wine body the ODG. Castéja was acquitted by the court.
In the 2012 classification, Angélus was promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A status – the top of the St-Emilion classification pyramid – while Castéja’s Château Trotte Vieille maintained its ‘B’ status. Seven other properties for which de Boüard was a consultant or supervisor were either promoted or maintained their status in the 2012 classification, the court heard.
The case was brought by the owners of three rival châteaux, Tour du Pin Figeac, Corbin Michotte and Croque Michotte, which were demoted in the 2012 classification. However, the court found no evidence that de Boüard’s actions had directly caused the demotion of the properties, and no damages were awarded.
During the trial, both defendants denied using any influence in the drawing up of the classification, with de Boüard saying: “In no way did I take part … Within the framework of INAO, I respected the rules from start to finish.”
The verdict comes as St-Emilion prepares to announce its latest classification in 2022 – a process already hit by the withdrawal from the rankings of Châteaux Cheval Blanc and Ausone, both Premier Grand Cru Classé A properties.
We previously reported the news that de Boüard was standing trial for manipulating the rankings of their wines within the Saint-Emilion classification system.