St-Emilion wines remain without classification

Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:04am EDT
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By Claude Canellas

BORDEAUX (Reuters Life!) - Bitter tears are falling in some glasses of ruby red Saint-Emilion wines after a Bordeaux court confirmed an earlier ruling throwing out the latest classification of one of France's best known wine areas.

This means that some bottles of the 2006 and 2007 harvest need to change their labels, while the 2008 and 2009 vintages are in limbo.

But it's not just a tempest in a French tea cup. The dispute over classification has already hit exports.

In August the United States barred some Saint-Emilion wines fearing the labels did not accurately describe the contents, with some 2006 and 2007 bottles carrying the wrong information.

The Bordeaux court on Monday upheld a lower court decision not to approve the Saint-Emilion classification for the 2006-2016 period because not all wines were produced in the same fashion.

"It is getting urgent to put a system in place to quickly establish a new classification," said Philippe Thévenin, lawyer for some of the winemakers in the case.

"Only a new tasting on equal terms is now possible,' he added. The Agriculture Ministry or the INAO wine classification body still have the option to go to the state council for a further ruling.

Earlier the French senate had proposed to keep the old classification in force until a new one was organized.   Continued...