The new Bordeaux classification in progress


We could forgive the winegrowers of Saint-Émilion for thinking that it never rains, but that it rains.

If there’s one place a French winemaker would rather be than in the vineyard, it’s in court – or at least it looks like it.

At least two French wine quarrels have found their way into the corridors of justice this week and there have been plenty of other rum-related events in the wine world this week as well, as our roundup clearly illustrates. weekly.

The classification of Saint-Émilion 2022 is already a problem

Quickly at the risk of becoming (if not already) a parody of itself, the Saint-Émilion ranking was plunged into turmoil this week, with this time two areas seeking promotion in the future 2022 ranking by taking the organization Français des appellations (INAO) in court on Friday for the rejection of their candidate registration forms.

The dust is still settling from the confusion of the 2012 ranking – which, after a long quarrel, saw the bigwigs of the right bank Hubert de Boüard de Laforest convicted in October of “illegal bias” in his dual role both within of the classification jury, and as a consultant to wineries looking for promotion. The final ramifications of this have yet to be determined.

In addition, the upcoming 2022 ranking was upset last July with the announcement that the Ausone and Cheval Blanc châteaux, two of the oldest estates in the region (classified for decades at the top of the Grands Crus Classés A), were were withdrawing from the race. They were joined by the sister estates Château La Clotte and Château Quinaut L’Enclos.

Today, according to the site vitisphere.com, Château Croix de Labrie (owned by Axelle and Pierre Courdurié) and Château Tour Saint-Christophe (part of the Vignobles K group, owned by Hong Kong billionaire Peter Kwok) have transported INAO before a court in Bordeaux, challenging the earlier rejection of their candidatures for next year’s ranking.

The files revolve around the acquisition of additional wine lands contributing to the estates and their wines over the past ten years. “Château Croix de Labrie has increased its surface area by 300% since 2005 (from 2 to 5.4 hectares of vines, of which only 4.5 hectares are candidates for classification)”, specifies vitisphere.com. However, one lawyer pointed out, that doesn’t necessarily have to be an immediate disqualification.

“It is assumed that the expansion has a negative impact on the consistency of the wines and on their taste,” Chateau Croix de Labrie lawyer Stéphanie Verschave told the news site. “But that’s the point of a later tasting. Or we say that we can never expand.”

The INAO has an equally compelling argument, highlighting the leniency already accorded to properties in their permitted growth. In addition, the impact of the expansion of the vineyard on the prospects for classification of a domain is far from being ignored in the region.

It is difficult to know when the tragedy turns into a farce, but everyone agrees that all parties want the problem resolved quickly. A decision is expected next week.

In the meantime, will the oenology and wine trade diplomas from the University of Bordeaux soon have to offer a minor in law?

Languedoc spat goes to court

No more Gallic legal drama this week as the long-standing schism within the CIVL saw the protagonists finally enter the courtroom after months of recriminations.

Regular readers will recall that we attempted to summarize the case in early September (see point 4, here) – a thankless task given how much the dispute depends on procedure within the CIVL and historical arrangements, as well as fallout coinciding with the election of a new chef, Christophe Bousquet, in July.

At the time, the Union of Mediterranean Wine Companies (UEVM), part of which is to appoint members to the CIVL’s trading board, broke with 20 years of tradition and did not appoint any representative of canvassing companies within the group. The reasoning being (to the best that we can understand) that direct marketing companies did not specifically rely on the CIVL for their well-being and yet had a major representation in the functioning of the pan-regional organization.

This quickly saw direct marketing groups (which include G̩rard Bertrand, Jeanjean and Bonfils Рnot exactly mom-and-pop outfits) explode, putting a number of regions and personalities in the fray. Many appellations (including Corbi̬res, Malep̬re and Faug̬res) threatened to go it alone without the CIVL (they would join the already independent Minervois and Fitou) in case of confirmation of the decision of the UEVM.

To give you a taste of the case, the CIVL tries to distance itself from the movement of the UEVM, affirming that it is not aware of the latter’s decision-making. Meanwhile, the Regional Federation of Direct Traders has none of this, claiming that the CIVL does not respect its own statutes.

Add to all that the fantastic headlines “Compulsory Voluntary Contributions” that many direct traders pay to the CIVL, but which don’t necessarily give them a place at the CIVL table, and you get, in the words of the man who hears it. case, Marc Pouyssegur, “a complex question”.

While often remarkably tedious, the case could have wider ramifications across the country. If the direct marketing group were to succeed, the precedent would go against the current status quo in all other regional French wine trade bodies. If this fails, the CIVL is at greater risk of fractures.

“All the interprofessions are waiting for your decision,” said a lawyer.

“I could do without this honor,” replied Pouyssegur, who is due to deliver his deliberation in early February 2022. However, do not expect a resolution. According to vitisphere.com, an appeal is very likely, “which could start a real legal saga”.

Goodbye, Vinexpo Bordeaux

Created in 1981, the Vinexpo wine fair will no longer be held in Bordeaux, it was announced this week. While rumors have been circulating for weeks, the show’s organizers will rename it Bordeaux Wine Week for 2022, when it takes place from June 16 to 26 in a much revamped format.

This decision was announced Wednesday by the mayor of Bordeaux, Vinexposium (the organizing body of the show), the Bordeaux wine trading group (CIVB) and the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. This ten-day event will include the regional wine festival “Bordeaux fête le vin” as well as numerous events for the general public and tourists.

“Forty years ago, it was necessary to separate the professional from the staff,” said Rodolphe Lameyse, director of Vinexposium, to the French regional media France Bleu. “But today the two are intimately linked so they might as well bring them together. It’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution. We just won’t use the term Vinexpo Bordeaux so as not to confuse the international participants.”

By all accounts, it looks like the exhibition center – a large hangar north of the city of Bordeaux, just under a kilometer long – will no longer host the biennial fair (it was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic) with most of the exchanges devoted to the city’s Cité du Vin museum and convention center.

Those who need to stroll endlessly along the trade stalls and regional pavilions will always be able to find their dose at Vinexpo Paris, which will be held at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center from February 14 to 16. Vinexpo Hong Kong (scheduled for 2021 but also canceled due to the global pandemic) has been postponed to May 2022.

Ups and downs for Castilla-La Mancha

The large wine-growing region of central Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, saw production decline by around 20% year-over-year in 2021, a figure in line with declining yields in a large part of Europe as a result of spring frosts and generally unfavorable weather conditions throughout the growth. season this year.

The news was announced last week by Francisco Martínez Arroyo, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development. While Martínez Arroyo admitted that this year’s wine production in the region would amount to 23 million hectoliters, it also announced the region’s highest export figures.

According to the regional agricultural newspaper Agroclm, in the 12 months preceding October 1, 2021, exports reached 17 million hectoliters of wine and must. It was “the highest number in our history,” said Martínez Arroyo. The reports highlighted strong performance for the Spanish region in the Canadian and Japanese markets.

Wines of Argentina launches in Brazil

Wines of Argentina, the national trade body and promotional arm of the South American country’s wine producers, announced this week the launch of an online wine store in neighboring Brazil. With the aim of capitalizing on one of the largest online wine shopping markets, the trade body announced that it is launching its own channel in the very popular Brazilian online market Mercado Livre Brasil.

According to a press release this week, the site now offers 125 labels from 33 Argentinian wineries, the vast majority of which are red wines – mostly Malbec.

“In 2020, Brazil was ranked third among countries with the most online wine purchases, according to data from Wine Intelligence,” the statement said, adding that Brazil is also the third largest wine export destination. Argentines.

“These new digital tools mark an important change in the field of promotion and the fact that Wines of Argentina has its own store in Mercado Livre Brasil offers endless possibilities to promote our qualities and allows us to reach a new audience”, a said Magdalena Pesce, Managing Director. Argentinian Wines.

Brigitte Macron thanks the students for the Burgundy wine auction

The First Lady of France, Brigitte Macron, wrote to a trio of students from Beaune to thank them for raising more than € 75,000 at a wine auction in May for the benefit of the Hospital Association de Paris (APHP), it appeared last week. According to local newspaper Le Bien Public, Macron, who is the president of the Association, told the group that the money would be used to provide rest areas for hospital staff.

The three students – Hubert Moret-Nominet, Clément Colin and Antoine Grisouard – raised 100,000 € during an auction of 180 lots of wines organized at the reception complex Le Hameau de Barboron (a regular wine tasting place ) in Savigny-lès-Beaune seven months ago. Among the lots offered were a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant (auctioned for € 4,000) and a magnum of Vosne-Romanée Aux Brûlées Premier Cru from Liger-Belair (which brought in € 9,300).

One of the most surprising lots – a 1969 magnum from Leroy Savigny-lès-Beaune – was bought by Swiss businessman Constantin Schenker for € 7,500.

“It is an old wine and quite rare,” Schenker told Bien Public at the time. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to find it anywhere else. It’s a unique bottle and I didn’t want to miss it, so I went for it.”

Although three-quarters of the total was donated by students to APHP, the sale was not entirely disinterested. The remaining quarter was devoted to the financing of an “educational activity” for students of the commercial trades program (which includes the auctioneers) of the Beaune wine school.

“It will probably be a trip to visit a place related to our training,” the trio said, without even providing a shortlist of intended destinations.

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