In 1955, the wines of St Emilion, Bordeaux were classified, and unlike the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 – the St Emilion list has been updated 5 times; 1969, 1986, 1996, 2006 and most recently in 2012. There are of course winners as well as losers in this scenario. In fact the 2006 classification was declared ‘invalid’ – after various legal ’actions’ made by some of the ‘losers’. – Excuse the pun here, but ‘sour-grapes’ is a natural reaction when such acclaim is taken away and one is facing a complete restructure of not only pricing and all that comes with profit and costing – but also the ‘image’ and marketing of a brand that has been knocked down a peg. Huge swings in value for wines made by the winners and losers of such ‘honours’ are made – not only by the estates themselves but for those who play the fine wine investment speculation game as well as the consumer.
Due to the ramblings caused by the 2006 Classification and its aftermath – accusations by four disgruntled properties eventually forced a ‘null and void’, and so a return to the 1996 Classification was applied – however a different approach was conducted in 2012 to try and appease any concerns and offer un-bias decisions.
There was no involvement by the St Emilion Wine Syndicate and Bordeaux trade – instead professionals from Burgundy, Rhône Valley, Provence, Champagne and the Loire Valley were instated as a seven-person commission. Alas, even with such ‘independence’ the final analysis and submitted Classifications received some grumbles from Château La Tour du Pin Figeac, Chateau Croque-Michotte and Château Corbin-Michotte who each filed complaints with a Bordeaux administration tribunal earlier this year in January. – A natural defensive move me thinks here.
In just over 12 months, clear opportunities are still plenty………….. The obvious winners from the 2012 Classification were two Chateaux that have been creating superb wines for some time – Chateau Pavie and Chateau Angelus.
Chateau Pavie…… Twaites & Jones have been promoting Pavie for quite some time – since the 2000 Vintage to be precise. The quality since Monsieur Perse (1998) has taken over the reins has been incredible – even in the most challenging years. Notable vintages are 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010. The Chateau is a favourite of Parker, and despite her claims of ‘Parkerisation’ in some Bordeaux wines (If JR’s tasting notes and comments seem to suggest! -OOPPS! I let that slip!!!!) – Jancis Robinson has found it harder to appreciate the concentration that Pavie favour.
Despite the long standing argument amongst critics (mostly Anglo-American – and we all know who!), there remains little agreement that Pavie is either an extraordinary Claret style, or rather a ‘Port-like’ wine. It must be said there has been some slight hypocritical comments made by the ‘Anglo’ side of the argument during ‘blind-tasting’ Pavie’s back vintages – having to back-track and reiterate past comments to make their case seemed (to me at least) somewhat amusing!
The fact does remain though, the style of Perse’s wines are not the traditional style everyone is akin to from this region. His style is amplified during years when the conditions have favoured such concentration, however there have been many who in their tasting notes for the 2012 Vintage (for example) have let out a sigh in relief, claiming the wine has ‘calmed’ slightly, allowing a ‘fresher’ and more approachable to the style of wine
Chateau Angelus has also been on a good run since the mid 80’s, despite a prolonged period of mediocre prior to that date, Hubert de Bouard has turned this estate into one of St Emilion’s superstars. The most recent Vintages of note are the 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010.
The recent classification has created a vacuum of value between these newly appointed estates and their ‘Premier Grand Crus Classes A’ piers; Cheval Blanc and Ausone. With most vintages priced more than double that of the newcomers, it is surely down to time before the gaps are closed. Some may say – perhaps not – but from our perspective with the recent En Primeur release prices for the 2012 Vintage seeming to back this theory up, the smarter money leans to this area of the Bordeaux market compared to an exhausted (it seems for now) left-bank market.
Liv-ex noted “solid activity on the secondary market and substantial price moves across all recent vintages” since both estates was upgraded last year. Chateau Angelus has seen slightly more success than Pavie for Vintages ranging from 2000-2009; 37% and 29% respectfully.
Below tables offer an over-view of the respective wines, values, scores and movements. The figures tell an interesting story when compare to Cheval Blanc, also classified in the illustrious St Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classe ‘A’. (All figures sourced from Liv-ex, based on ‘market values’)
THE PAVIE STORY……….
Average Robert parker score: 96.86 (using + as .5) over 11 years.
THE ANGELUS STORY……..
Average Robert parker score: 94.63 over 11 years.
THE CHEVAL BLANC STORY ……….
Average Robert parker score: 94.09 over 11 years.
Despite the fine wine investment market catching on to the clear value available in wines from the two properties there still seems some way to go over the mid term – something you don’t hear about too often these days!