The famous French wine growing area is in the east of the region Bordeaux and forms with Pomerol the core area of the so-called Rive droite (right bank) of the estuary Gironde and the Dordogne, It is named after the small town of around 2,000 inhabitants, which lies on the slopes of a hill above the Dordogne valley. It bears its name after the saint Benedictine monk Émilion (Aemilianus). According to legend, he lived here in the forest of Combes in a cave in the 7th century Château Laniote located. Saint-Émilion is also a stop on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. It is one of the oldest wine-growing areas France, because the Romans planted the first vines here.
In 1999 Saint-Émilion became the first wine growing area in the world to be recognized by UNESCO World Heritage appointed. The vineyards cover around 5,500 hectares of vineyards, which are cultivated by over 1,000 winegrowers. In addition to Saint-Émilion, the ten by five kilometer area includes the municipalities of Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Étienne-de-Lisse, Saint-Laurent-des-Combes, Saint-Pey-d'Armens, Saint-Sulpice-de-Faleyrens, Vignonet and partly Libourne, The four communities separated by the small Barbanne watercourse Lussac. Montagne. Puisseguin and Saint-Georges are independent appellations that label may give the place name with the addition Saint-Émilion.
The climate is more continental and not as maritime as in the west Médoc and has large temperature fluctuations. The vineyards are between 25 and 100 meters above sea level. The area is characterized by a variety of soil types, often even within the individual châteaux. It is roughly divided into the four zones of plateau (limestone formations with limestone or sandy clay), Côtes (similar, but different slope and orientation), Graves (gravel and coarse gravel) and Sables (alluvial gravel). These floors also produce a wide variety of wine types.
For the most part red wines produced, only these have the Appellations status, The full-bodied and full-bodied plants with silky texture become from the dominant variety Merlot, which occupies around 60% of the vineyard area, as well Cabernet Franc (here Bouchet) with shares of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cot (here Malbec, Pressac) and Carmenère (also Carbouet) produced; the typical grape varieties of the Rive droite, Long Maceration times and Barrique in mostly new French oak barrels are common. They are gentler, fruity and less tannic than those from the Médoc.
In addition to the AOC Saint-Émilion, there are also Saint-Émilion Grand Cru wines with sensory tested quality criteria. There are four major differences between the two. The earnings is limited to 8,000 kg / ha or 55 hl / ha (instead of 9,000 kg / ha or 65 hl / ha). The Mostgewicht the grapes (except Merlot) must be at least 189 g / l sugar (instead of 180 g / l). The alcohol content is prescribed with at least 11.5% vol (instead of 11% vol). The wine must be stored for at least 14 months before being marketed. For the Grands Crus, the wines have to bottling undergo a second more demanding test. The quality of the last ten is assessed vintages, Reputation of the wine, market price achieved and quality of terroirs,
The best grands crus with the addition "Classé" enjoy the status of classified plants. The classification applies only to the Grand Vin (First wine) of the winery and can only be valid for a defined part of the vineyards. All other wines like second wines or white wines on label give a different name than the first wine as the main name. For example, the second wine from Château Cheval Blanc the name "Petit Cheval Blanc". In rare cases, a winery can have two first wines with different names (see e.g. at Château Faugères ).
The classification system is not as rigid as that of Médoc and is regularly revised (see below for the confusingly different classifications in France Grand Cru ). In contrast to the Médoc, the locations (ie the boundaries of the vineyards) of the wines included in the classification may not be changed freely. This provision has already led to declassifications when merging differently classified wineries (example Château Beau-Séjour-Bécot ). The first classification was made in 1955, the others were then 1969, 1985, 1996, 2006 and most recently in 2012. The total number of classified wineries is limited to a maximum of 90. In 1986 there were 85, in 1996 there was a reduction to 68, in 2006 to only 60 and in 2012 again to 82.
According to the 2006 classification, there were protests by downgraded wineries. The four outclassified Château Cadet-Bon, Château Guadet, Château La Marzelle and Château La Tour-du-Pin-Figeac brought a protest or contest the result to the administrative court in Bordeaux (besides that Château La Tour-du-Pin-Figeac the other three were re-classified in 2012). After examining the facts, the court found that it was grossly faulty to first taste the wines of already classified wineries and then separately the others. Everyone should have been tasted together. As a result, there was a confusing back and forth. First, the 2006 classification was revoked and the 1996 classification was put into force, this was rejected and the upgrade of eight châteaux confirmed in 2006, rejected, and finally a decision was made on May 13, 2009. The classification was now valid again in 1996. In a footnote, however, it was noted that the eight chateaux upgraded in 2006 (6 Grand Cru Classé and 2 Premier Grand Cru Classé B) were allowed to maintain their new rank.
The classification in 2012 was carried out under the supervision of INAO by a jury with seven professional tasters, To ensure independence, there were no members of the Saint-Emilion Syndicat or des Bordeaux wine trade among them, but specialists Burgundy. Champagne. Loire. Provence and Rhone, The wine review was done by means of blind tasting with a 20-point system, At least 14 points were required for the Grand Cru Classé and at least 16 points for the Premier Grand Cru Classé. There was an increase from 60 to 82 farms, reflecting improved standards in the winemaking and greater consistency of the rating is attributed. The shock caused by the many declassifications in 2006 has clearly motivated great efforts. There was with that Château Corbin-Michotte just a declassification. This classification will now probably be valid for the next 10 years (until 2022).
The top Premier Grand Cru Classé is divided into two groups, A for the absolute top châteaux, the quality of which can be compared to the Premier-Cru-Classé-Châteaux des Médoc (there were châteaux here until 2012 with the two wineries) Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc no change) and B for the other châteaux. Then comes the Grand Cru Classé , in which there have been changes in the previous ratings (downgrades and / or reclassifications). The bottom class is Grand Cru (without Classé), which, in contrast to the other classes, is no longer a valid classification (see below for this). The classified wineries (h = upgraded, n = new, w = reclassified after declassification):
Premier Grand Cru Classé A (4):
Premier Grand Cru Classé B (14):
Grand Cru Classé (64):
Actually, this lowest level is not a classification (because these wineries were "not classified"), but an additional name for the simple appellation Saint-Émilion. In 2012, over 200 producers received this classification. Of course, some companies also produce excellent wines. Prime examples include Chateau Patris. Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf and also before the big jump from "Grand Cru" to "Premier Grand Cru Classé B" in 2012 Chateau Valandraud,