Who is surprised by this?
Prosecutors say that as influential members of INAO, France’s wine governing body, the men were unfairly able to ensure that their own domains, as well as others that they were paid to advise, maintained their ranking or joined the select club.
“It’s as if someone passed the baccalaureate (A level) exam after writing the subjects himself,” said Eric Morain, lawyer for the plaintiffs.
The legal battle has been simmering in the Unesco-protected village since INAO published its long-awaited new classification for St Emilion in 2012. The ranking has two main categories: Grand Cru Classé and the more prestigious Premier Grand Cru Classé.
Unlike Bordeaux’s most famous 1855 classification, which is set in stone, the St Emilion ranking is reassessed every 10 years.
Entry is said to boost the price of the wines – reds made predominantly from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes – by about 30 per cent, and thus also affect property prices.
Cartels, self-dealing, fiddling – really, who is surprised at this happening in the French economy?