St Emilion Classification
Unlike the Left Bank wines of the Médoc the wines of Saint Emilion were not classified in the 1855 Classification. Saint Emilion is located on the Right Bank or north side of the Dordogne River. Merlot is the predominant grape used in the blend in Saint Emilion wines as the area is subject to frost earlier than the Médoc (which is sheltered by the Gironde estuary) and Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Saint Emilion Classification was created in 1954 and is supposed to be revised every 10 years. The revision concept creates a fundamental distinction between the Saint Emilion Classification and those of other appellations. It ensures that recognized châteaux maintain standards on pain of declassification and it incites the others to make the improvements required to earn the distinction. Furthermore, it guarantees the consumer an authentic quality product.
The first 3 Classification committees were for the most part made up of Bordeaux and Libourne wine brokers. From the 1996 Classification onwards the Saint Emilion Winegrowers’ Association has put forward to INAO a wide range of experts with a variety of skills, including brokers and merchants as well as oenologists, soil and vineyard management experts, together with people from the world of economics and legal considerations.
The Classification consists of 3 categories Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Premier Grand Cru Classé B and Grand Cru Classé. The Premier Grand Cru Classé A's are usually considered to be equivalent to the First Growths of the Médoc.
The first Classification was in 1955 and was updated in 1969, 1986, 1996, 2006 and most recently in 2012.
The document below shows the results for each Chateau in the Saint Emilion Classifications 1955 – 2012, plotting nearly 60 years of change.