Wednesday, 18 March 2009

St.Emilion classification in disarray...again!

The 1855 classification of Bordeaux wines has stood the test of time apart from a couple of minor adjustments (Chateau Mouton Rothschild was elevated to 1st Growth in the early 1970's). However this classification was mainly for the 'Left Bank' of Bordeaux.
On the other hand the St.Emilion classification was introduced in 1954 in order to promote the top Chateaux and show off a hierarchy of quality. The classification is reviewed every 10 years and controversially Chateaux are promoted or demoted. This obviously gives the classification more fluidity, whilst keeping the Chateau owners 'on their toes' to maintain or establish their quality.
Unfortunately it has now all gone pear shaped!
The most recent classification in 2006 was disputed by the demoted Chateaux and they took legal action. The court cases have been back and forth and unfortunately at every turn the reputation of St.Emilion becomes slightly more tarnished. The latest news from St.Emilion is that the 2006 classification will not the lawyers have won!!!
This leaves the current labelling for Chateaux which were demoted or promoted in limbo! It also means that if the next classification takes place in 2016 we could be in for some fun.
Read more in Decanter.

Monday, 16 March 2009


There are many parts of the viticultural year that have benefited from innovation and progress. Harvesting machines are the most obvious advancement from the traditional hand pickers.
These innovations take time to bed in and they also normally have critics from the older generation.
One area of grape growing that has not really had much advancement over the years is pruning. Apart from the introduction of electrical sheers rather than manual sheers...which has reduced the arthritic problems and tendinitis.
Every vine grows in a different way. The branches develop and shoot over in all directions. Therefore the pruning and more importantly the selection of the next years growth has always been done by a human. How can a machine make a judgement on a healthy shoot? How can a machine decide what looks good or bad to cut?
Well.....the Americans have come up with a new machine that will halve the labour costs and speed up the the link here. Will we be seeing the first robot pruners in the Minervois soon?