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Classification row rages in St Emilion

Published:  23 July, 2008

The owner of St Emilion property Grand Corbin-Despagne has slammed the three chteaux in the region that have challenged last year's classification following their demoted status.

Franois Despagne said: These people want to destroy the classification and ruin the good image of Bordeaux. I don't accept that they don't accept the decision.'

Chteau Villemaurine, Chteau Cadet Bon and Chteau Guadet-Saint-Julien, three of the 11 properties declassified in 2006, have filed suits against the ruling at a Bordeaux court.

Grand Corbin-Despagne was itself demoted from Grand Cru in 1996, before being reinstated last year. Despagne said: I worked for 10 years to get it back. That is what they should do. Rather than complaining, they ought to get out there and work. I respect the rules, and I don't understand why they don't. The whole point of a classification is that there are winners and losers. You can't have everyone becoming Grand Cru.'

Guy Ptrus Lignac of Chteau Guadet-Saint-Julien explained that his main problem was with the judging panel. I question that everything was done within the rules,' he said.

Despagne dismissed this out of hand. The Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) selected members of the jury. People were chosen by an external body, it was absolutely not biased,' he said.

The three chteaux have been emboldened by the success of a few Cru Bourgeois properties in overturning the 2003 reclassification of that kind.

Under a ruling last week by a court in Bordeaux, all chteaux, including the exceptionnel' Chasse-Spleen, Poujeaux and Phlan Sgur, revert to the basic cru bourgeois' status.