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Château Figeac promoted in latest Saint-Émilion classification

Château Figeac has been promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classés A in the latest revision of the Saint-Émilion Classification, it was announced yesterday.

The Saint-Émilion Classification, which was introduced in 1955, is revised every decade and yesterday, the seven-member Classification Commission announced the latest list of crus classés for the the next ten years, comprising 85 properties.

As had been widely anticipated, Château Figeac was promoted to the coveted spot of Premier Grand Cru Classés A – making it one of only two chateaux in the top spot, alongside Château Pavie, which was promoted to ‘A’ status in 2o12.

However there have been controversial withdrawals from the classification over the last two years, with the departure of Premier Grand Cru Classé A estates, Château La Gaffelière (June 2021), Château Angélus (January 2021), Cheval Blanc and Ausone (August 2021) – leading some to conclude that the classification itself is in serious trouble.

As well as promoting Figeac, 16 estates have been named as new Grands Crus Classés, including Chateau Badette, Croix de Labrie and Rol Valentin.

Frédéric Faye, Figeac’s managing director, told Terre de Vins it was “an immense pleasure to see Figeac recognized in this way.”

“This encourages us to redouble our efforts, to continue in the dynamic that has been ours for several years,” he said.

According to Liv-ex, Château Figeac was the most traded Saint-Émilion Grand Cru estates after the Premier Grand Cru Classé A châteaux, accounting for 10.8% of wines from St Emilion in 2022, just behind Ausone on 11.3%. Prices for the chateau have also risen 47.1% in the last three years, and it has therefore long been seen as a prime candidate for promotion.

Jean-François Galhaud, president of the Saint-Émilion Wine Council, congratulated  all the properties that now feature in this new classification as well as the the people who worked on them.

“This is truly an outstanding human adventure that relies on teamwork,” he said. “Without a terroir and committed women and men, there can be no great wine. There is no doubt that this new classification will continue to lend prominence to the name of Saint-Émilion abroad.”

New classification

The new classification distinguishes 85 properties in total: two Premiers Grands Crus Classés A, 12 Premiers Grands Crus Classés, and 71 Grands Crus Classés. The list will now be submitted to the French Agricultural and Consumption Ministries for approval.

In the last classification, announced in 2012, there were 82 châteaux in total, an increase from the 75 named in the first edition announced in 1955 (completed in 1958), which designated 63 estates as Grands Crus Classés and 12 as Premiers Grands Crus Classés.

Franck Binard, managing director of the Saint-Émilion Wine Council, said the basic rules of the classification were firm on two points  – “tasting remain essential and property tax base is strictly controlled. Though they have evolved with the times.”

He added that nowadays for example it was important to pay special attention to environmental issues. “90% of the estates in Saint-Émilion wine growing area are part of environmental actions (the aim is to attain 100% of the estates certified in 2023). The Crus Classés should show their investment in environment and biodiversity. This contributes to the influence of the appellation and the durability of the classification,” he said.

Binard continued that 50% of the final score is determined by a panel of 43 experts tasting the wines of each applicant, Ten vintages are tasted for the Grands Crus Classés and 15 for the Premier Grands Cru Classés. Reputation, terroirs and winegrowing/winemaking method make up the remaining 50%, though for Premier Grands Cru Classés reputation counts for 35%, as opposed to 20% for Grands Crus Classés.

Read more:

A classification in crisis: what next for Saint-Émilion 

Why is Chateau La Gaffelier leaving the Saint-Émilion classification?

In focus: How Ausone and Cheval Blanc’s exit will affect the Saint-Émilion classification  

The Saint-Émilion Succession – Series Two

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