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Saint Emilion Grat Classified Growth, Classified Growths, Grands Crus Classes, GCC
In 1954, while the "Graves" growths had just published their own classification, the wine syndicate of Saint-Emilion, composed by wine growers, brokers and wine traders with the approval of the INAO - Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (A.O.C), decided to work on a classification for the wines of Saint Emilion. Initially, four grades were defined. These were reduced to two - First Great Classified Growth (A and B) and Great Classified Growth - in 1984.
As of Medoc's 1855 historical grading, the Saint-Emilion Great Classified Growth classification is not only based on qualitative criteria by tasting the wines on a ten years period previous to the assessment, but also on commercial considerations such as:
- sales price levels
- national and international commercial distribution
- the estate's reputation on the market
Properties who don't manage to join the club of about sixty Classified Growths are given the denomination of Great Growth ("Grand Cru"), while the remaining wineries of the A.O.C are simply reported as "Saint-Emilion". It is to be noted that the owners must officially apply to appear in the official classification. Thus for example the famous Chateau Tertre-Roteboeuf, whose quality and reputation would easily justify to be listed among the First Great Classified Growths, does not appear here by the will of its owner, François Mitjaville.
The Saint-Emilion Great Growth classification was revised in 1969, 1985, 1996 and 2006. The only two guaranteed vintage (A.O.C) who can apply to the classification are the "Saint-Emilion Grand Cru" and "Saint-Emilion" areas.
By grading 61 properties, the 2006 revision confirmed many growths from the former classification, but also caused a number of surprises and a few inevitable disappointments. Many observers thought that the impressive progression of Perse's Chateau Pavie since 1998 would be rewarded by an upgrade into the First Great Classified Growths (A) category, but finally such was not the case.
Among the estates promoted to the First Great Classified Growths B category are Chateau Troplong-Mondot and Pavie-Macquin, whose efforts made since the Nineties fully justify their new grade. It should be noted that no First Great Classified Growth was relegated to the lower Great Classified Growth class.
Promoted growths from the status of Great Growth ("Grand Cru") to Great Classified Growth ("Grand Cru Classe") are: Chateaux Bellefont-Belcier, Destieux, Fleur Cardinale, Grand Corbin, Grand Corbin-Despagne and Monbousquet.
The demoted growths from the status of Great Classified Growth to Great Growth are: Chateaux Bellevue, Cadet Bon, Faurie de Souchard, Guadet Saint-Julien, La Tour du Pin-Figeac (Belivier), La Tour du Pin-Figeac (Moueix), Lamarzelle, Petite Faurie de Soutard, Tertre Daugay, Villemaurine and Yon-Figeac. If the recent samples of some of the above mentioned properties may justify their current downgrade, there are great chances that estates like Bellevue, Tertre Daugay or Yon-Figeac will be upgraded to their previous rankings by the next revision in 2016 as the progresses noted after 2000, but not entering in the range of vintages (1993 - 2002) appointed for the criteria of selection for the 2006 classification, are noticable.
The two following estates have completely disappeared from the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classification: Curé-Bon-la-Madeleine (integrated meanwhile to Chateau Canon) and La Clusière (integrated meanwhile to Chateau Pavie).
Finally, no estate considered as "garagiste" has integrated the classification. Valandraud, Mondotte, Le Dome, Bellevue-Mondotte or Magrez-Fombrauge have, for the least, the potential to be ranked as Great Classified Growths. In sight of the very fine quality reached by the above mentioned estates in recent vintages as well as all the innovative wine making methods used by the "garagistes", it remains to be seen whether the authorities will dare to cross the line in 2016..?