The Saint-Emilion Crus ranking, unique in France!

The Saint-Emilion Crus ranking, unique in France!

The classification scheme which ranks the wines of Saint-Emilion is updated every ten years

The 2012 ranking is the sixth of its kind since the first 1955 edition. After ten months of meticulous work, eighty-two estates were evaluated out of which sixty-four were Grands Crus Classés and eighteen Premiers Grands Crus Classés.

Saint-Emilion Wines, a tradition of excellence

The emergence of the Saint Emilion Crus ranking is closely related to the ancient history of vineyards that are in a constant quest for quality and innovation. The idea was formed in the last century. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Saint-Emilion was founded in 1936. In 1948, a tasting-based quality control was set up for each vintage and for all the wines that wished to be under the appellation. Four years later, a first classification project was developed under the authority of the INAO and the Ministry of Agriculture. The final text was approved by the decree of October 7, 1954.

A new Saint-Emilion ranking every ten years

Far from copying the existing systems, the Saint-Emilion Crus ranking method, adopted by Winemakers' Association of Saint-Emilion, is innovative. It is voluntary for the estate owners and has three categories for the AOC Saint-Emilion Grand Cru wines: Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé and Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Moreover, the originality of this ranking is that it should be reviewed every ten years.

Saint-Emilion Crus, ever more demanding

This reviewable classification has soon proved to be a real asset. It encourages all the winemakers of the appellation and further increases the worldwide reputation of Saint-Emilion wines. For the Crus Classés enthusiasts, it is a guarantee to taste "real" wines, exceptional in every way. The first classification of 1955 assessed seventy-five châteaux whilst the second one, in 1969, eighty-four. In 1986, the third ranking retained seventy-four estates, while sixty-eight châteaux were included in the fourth ranking of 1996. Finally, the 2012 ranking distinguished eighty-two châteaux. Over the decades, the number of Premiers Grands Crus has been between eleven and eighteen. The Grands Crus has been between fifty-five and sixty-four.

The Saint Emilion Crus ranking evolves with the times

Following the first change in 1984 that was made to monitor the regulation of AOC, the classification procedure was thoroughly revised in 2011. This change followed the commotion caused by the publication of the 2006 ranking. The Administrative Court suspended its approval after criticism by some unsuccessful candidates. However, the State Council restored it a few months later. This experience encouraged the appellation to further strengthen the independence and transparency of the ranking. New provisions were endorsed. The Ministry of Agriculture and the INAO now oversee the classification process. Moreover, a commission for the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru ranking is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the whole procedure. Appointed by the Comité National Vins et Eaux de Vie, the commission consists of seven recognized personalities of the wine world and from outside of the Bordeaux region.

Meticulous evaluation of Saint-Emilion producers

Applicants must submit a very detailed file to be ranked. This includes documents concerning the estate’s tax affairs and its reputation. The distribution and communication policy in France and abroad is also taken into account as well as the listing of its wines or techniques used in their vineyards and the cellar. The ranking commission has chosen to rely on two recognized certifying bodies to perform checks on the farms and for wine tastings. The new procedure reserves an important place for wine tasting. A panel of expert tasters judges the quality and consistency level of the wines. During the 2012 ranking, the jury examined ten vintages for the Grand Cru and fifteen vintages for Premier Grand Cru Classé labels. Nearly a thousand samples in total were tasted rigorously and in complete anonymity.

The Saint-Emilion crus rating structure

In 2012, the tasting notes accounted for half of the final score for the Grand Cru Classé candidates. In its composition, the reputation accounted for 20%, the farm and its terroir for 20% and the running of the farm for 10%. A minimum final grade of fourteen out of twenty was necessary to obtain the endorsement. For the candidates of the Premier Grand Cru Classé designation - themselves already Premier Grand Cru Classé or at least Grands Crus, the required score was slightly higher, sixteen out of twenty. For them, tasting notes represented 30% of the final grade, reputation 35%, the terroir and the farm 30%, the running of the farm 5%.

Dernière mise à jour le : 25/11/2015