Châteaux Pavie and Angélus joined fellow Saint-Émilion estates Cheval Blanc and Ausone at the top of the appellation’s quality hierarchy at the start of September.
The Saint-Émilion classification revision, which takes place every 10 years, often courts controversy and it was this which most famously led to the scrapping of the 2006 classification.
It's hoped that this year’s reclassification will stand the test of time. The authorities named a total of 18 properties as premier grand crus classés, including four new entrants: Canon La Gaffelière, Mondotte, Valandraud and Larcis-Ducasse.
In the wake of the announcement, Wine-Searcher has mined its database to see which St.-Émilion estates would be premier grand crus when judged by the average aggregated scores of wine critics from 1996 onwards (the last time the classification was revised and withstood the test of time).
Using 65,000 offers across the site, our results show that since 1996, the longstanding premier grand cru classé A properties Châteaux Ausone and Cheval Blanc have been awarded average scores of 93 and 92 points annually respectively, putting them deservedly at the top of the hierarchy.
Château La Mondotte, promoted to premier grand cru classé status this month, clearly deserved an upgrade from its previous lowly AOC Saint-Émilion status. It scored the third-highest aggregated score of 91 points from 1996–2011. The 4.5-hectare estate is owned by the Von Niepperg family, who also run another newly promoted premier grand cru classé estate, Canon La Gaffelière, as well as Clos de l’Oratoire in the village of Saint-Émilion.
A host of estates sit on an annual aggregated score of 90 points: the newly promoted Château Angélus and Pavie, and Jean-Luc Thunevin’s Château Valandraud, which has been promoted to premier grand cru classé B, bypassing the grand cru classé category
Meanwhile, Tertre-Roteboeuf – once compared to a “whore” by Robert Parker, who said its “lavishly rich, sumptuously-textured, hedonistic wines hit all the sweet spots on the palate” – and Bellevue-Mondotte (an estate owned by Château Pavie’s Gérard Perse) also feature in the Wine-Searcher list but not in the INAO's official premier grand cru classé category.
Wine-Searcher's average bottle prices across all vintages from prices in all countries make interesting reading, with Ausone costing $976 per bottle (ex. sales tax) followed by Cheval Blanc at $725, suggesting the market has also decided which châteaux are worth the money.
In terms of bang for your buck, though, you’re paying $10.50 per point for Ausone. By contrast, Château Fombrauge, which received an average 85 points per vintage, comes in at just 30 cents per point. It has an average bottle price of $34 excluding sales tax. Other well-known names such as Château Fonroque and Château Grand Corbin-Despagne also offer good value for money on points to price ratio, costing just over 40 cents per critic’s point.
Wine Searcher’s Saint Émilion classification*
Château Ausone, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé (A)
Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé (A)
La Mondotte, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé
Château Pavie, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé (A)
Château Angelus ,Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé (A)
Château Le Tertre-Roteboeuf, Saint-Émilion grand cru
Château Valandraud, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé
Château Bellevue-Mondotte, Saint-Émilion grand cru
Château Troplong Mondot, premier grand cru classé
Château Pavie-Macquin, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé
Château Canon La Gaffeliere, Saint-Émilion premier grand cru classé
Château Croix de Labrie, Saint-Émilion grand cru
Château Figeac, Saint Émilion premier grand cru classé
(88 points and below excluded.)
*Based on Wine Searcher aggregated scores from 22 globally recognized critics over the period 1996– 2011.
Our Value-For-Money Recommendations:
How much are you paying per dollar for a critic’s point (based on our 100-point scale)?
Château Cantenac: 30 cents
Château de Ferrand: 39 cents
Château Fombrauge: 40 cents
Château Grand Corbin-Despagne: 42 cents
Château Berliquet: 43 cents
Most Expensive Wines Per Point:
Château Ausone: $10.50
Château Cheval Blanc:$7.88
La Mondotte: $3.74
Château Angélus: $3.28
Château Valandraud: $3.22
* Calculated by aggregating the average score from the world’s top critics over the past 15 vintages and dividing by the average dollar cost per bottle excluding sales tax. For example, the average bottle price of a bottle of Château Cantenac is $25.95 (ex tax). It has an average score of 85 points across the last 15 vintages.