Two owners of famous wine estates are judged until Tuesday by the Criminal Court of Bordeaux for "illegal taking of interests".
They are criticized for their presumed involvement, to varying degrees, in the 2012 classification of Saint-Emilion grands crus, synonymous with significant commercial and financial benefits.
They refuted on Monday having wanted to take advantage of their position to promote their properties to the detriment of those excluded from the ranking.
They deny any intention of having wanted to promote their domains. Two great figures of Bordeaux refuted, Monday, having influenced the development of the 2012 classification of the great wines of Saint-Emilion. Hubert de Boüard, 65, and Philippe Castéja, 72, are accused by three family estates who have seen "the sky fall on their heads" after their downgrading. The co-owner of the famous Angélus and the important merchant and owner of Château Trotte Vieille must answer until tomorrow, Tuesday, of "illegal taking of interest" before the Criminal Court of Bordeaux for their alleged involvement in this classification synonymous with commercial benefits and consequent financial.
In 2012, the new hierarchy promoted Angélus premier grand cru Classé “A”, at the top of the pyramid, and maintained Trotte Vieille “B”.
Eight other properties for which Hubert de Boüard was a consultant or supervisor were rewarded (out of 82 distinguished).
However, the two defendants, who risk up to five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 euros, were members of the national wine committee of the National Institute of Origin and Quality (Inao), attached to the Ministry of Agriculture.
This body validated the classification regulations and their results, drawn up by a commission whose members it had appointed.
"Sixty years of work destroyed for my father"
“At Inao, I respected the rule from start to finish,” assured Hubert de Boüard, also a member of the Organization for the Defense and Management (ODG) of Saint-Emilion wines. I abstained from voting on the list of members of the classification committee. “Gray area of the file, the writings of Inao do not allow to know precisely who said or did what at such meeting. Philippe Castéja, less active than his co-defendant according to the investigation, used the same line of defense. He assured to have "never participated in the decisions of Inao" on the classification and highlights his "Medoc roots", another great Bordeaux region, to explain that he "knew very little" the Saint-Emilion file.
Daughter of the owner of Corbin-Michotte, one of the complainant castles, Isabelle Boidron testified to the “total disgust” of the three generations of operators when the ax fell in 2012: “Sixty years of work destroyed for my father”, including wine had always been classified.
She claimed to have "quickly" understood that her castle was the victim of "irregularities" and "malice".
An "informal committee" of four people from the ODG, including Hubert de Boüard, exchanged for a year and all were classified or promoted, she assured.
"And now, we are the black sheep of Saint-Emilion," she regretted, citing the annoyances suffered by her family.
"Drifts against the backdrop of sometimes huge financial stakes"
The long procedure has seen many twists and turns, in particular in 2019 a rare appeal by the Bordeaux prosecutor's office [which had requested a dismissal] of the decision to refer to correctional. "A special situation," admitted the president.
Mistreated in court, with another - administrative - litigation in progress for nine years, the 2012 classification is also shaken up internally since the historic châteaux Ausone and Cheval-Blanc, first grands crus classified "A" since the origin, have not not a candidate for 2022. They consider that the rating leaves too much room for “secondary elements” (notoriety, public reception, etc.) versus “fundamentals” (terroir, tasting, etc.).
Witness called Monday by the civil parties, the Bordeaux oenologist Franck Dubourdieu, for his part, assured that the renewable classifications like that of Saint-Emilion (every ten years) were "sick" because of "drifts against a background of financial issues sometimes huge ”.
Saint-Emilion: Two winegrowers indicted for "illegal taking of interests"
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