Christophe Dufournier is a true lover of great wines and founder of Chai & Bar Total Wine Experience. This exceptional and daring concept offers an impressive stock of great wines and champagnes kept at a controlled temperature. In the Entrepôt Royal of Tour & Taxi, Chai & Bar spreads out its stock for you over an area of 700 m2, along with its Tasting Bar to share the pleasures of the vine with you. The welcome, outstanding setting, value for money and advice with a personal touch are the magic ingredients that make Chai & Bar work so well. The wines from Saint Emilion in Bordeaux are popular in Belgium. This region, with its beautiful countryside, produces wines called Saint Emilion and Saint Emilion Grand cru. “Grand cru” is not a geographical definition. It is a qualitative criteria defined by a return of 40 hl/ha (hectoliters per hectare) instead of a 45 hl/ha in Saint Emilion, which gives a higher concentration to the Grand cru wines.
Saint Emilion vineyards were not rated until 1954, whereas Medoc vineyards have been rated since 1855. These ratings are helpful to the consumer, but the best ratings are those that a wine-lover decides himself based on his own judgment and personal taste.
Since 1954, the ratings of Saint Emilion vineyards have been determined by agricultural, commercial and scientific criteria. Who judges? Initially, wine brokers who knew the wines and the market prices. Since 1996, oenologists, experts in the soils and the grapes, have sat on the panel of judges.
The rating system of the Saint Emilion Grand cru is unique, because it was initiated by the vineyard owners and because it is revised every 10 years. Within the Saint Emilion Grand cru estates, it differentiates between the “grands crus classés” and the “first grands crus classés.” It’s a challenging system for the owners, who work to maintain their rating or to improve it. This rating system is credible because it retrogrades certain wines and promotes others.
After 1969, 1984 and 1996, the most recent rating was published in September 2006:
- Cheval Bland and Ausone are still the only two first Grands crus classés “A”.
- Two new wines, Troplong Mondot by Christine Valette and Pavie Macquin by Nicolas Thienpont (a Belgian owner) and Stephane de Renoncourt (oenologist), jouned the elite club of first Grands crus classés “B” to make a total of 13 “firsts”, including well-known names such as Figeac, Clos Fourtet, Beauséjour Bécot and Pavie.
- The Grands crus classés, which now number 48 (55 in 1996), elected eight new wines and demoted 13 others, Bellefont Belcier, Grand Corbin, Grand Corbin Despagne, Destoix and Fleur cardinale were promoted.
The deceasing number of wines elected ensures the viability and the credibility of this rating. A wine that has been demoted can reappear in the rating. Numerous properties with good soil go through periods of decline and then improve due to the hard work of a demanding owner and oenologist. At this price level, the consumer deserves constant quality. As wine-lovers, we can only applaud the re-evaluation of the Saint Emilion ratings, as well as of those of the crus bourgeois du Médoc, which attracted so much attention two years ago.
Should you abandon the wine of a demoted estate that you’ve been enjoying for years? Certainly not. It is your pleasure that’s important. Nevertheless, it is interesting and useful to compare the value for money of your preferred wine with a wine of equivalent rating.
The wines of Saint Emilion, elaborated primarily with Merlot and Cabernet franc grapes on clay soils, are excellent companions for winter and spring meals.