Saint-Emilion toasts tradition while clouds gather

Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:07am EDT
 
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By Claude Canellas

SAINT-EMILION, France (Reuters Life!) - Wine growers toasted the 1199 creation of the Saint-Emilion Jurade this month with a pageant and tasting.

But with the latest classification in disarray and the harvest not looking brilliant the question is whether the future will be as grand as the past.

The Jurade, or guild, was created by a charter signed by English King John I, or John Lackland Duke of Normandy, in the days when Aquitaine and Normandy were under English rule.

Nowadays the guild aims to preserve its traditions but also promote the sale of wine across France and abroad from a region that is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The 60th anniversary of the 1948 resurrection of the Jurade was not without its hiccups. Guest of honor Prince Albert II of Monaco could not make it and vintners remain divided over the failure of the 2006 classification.

Saint-Emilion renews the classification of its wines every 10 years, unlike the 1855 classification of Bordeaux wines which has remained constant since it was set in the 19th century.

But the July 1 suspension of Saint-Emilion's 2006 classification has meant that vintners have had to tear labels from any bottles mentioning the classification and slammed eight growers who had been included from this area of 5,400 hectares (13,340 acres) east of Bordeaux in south west France.

In early August, French parliament adopted a legal amendment allowing the 1996 classification to remain in force until 2009.   Continued...