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1855 Grands Crus Classés: UNESCO application shelved

Par Sharon Nagel Le 26 janvier 2016
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1855 Grands Crus Classés: UNESCO application shelved

romoted by the chairman of the 1855 Grands Crus Classés council, Philippe Castéja, the planned application to list Napoleon’s wine classification as Unesco world heritage has been dropped. This sudden and unexpected turn of events is apparently due to a lack of cohesion between the classified growths – 61 chateaux in the Médoc, 27 in Sauternes and Barsac and 1 in Pessac-Léognan.

Some chateaux owners were opposed to the Unesco project, fearing that it would permanently immobilise the classification. Concern that it would gain a museum-like status was compounded by the upwardly mobile ambitions of chateaux owners who constantly seek to improve their ranking. 

To avert the increasing risk of a rift amongst chateaux, the project was quite simply shelved, despite the fact that the application to be listed as intangible French heritage - a prerequisite for a Unesco application in 6-8 years’ time - was taking shape. An international, multidisciplinary symposium, announced during Vinexpo 2015, was due to lay the scientific foundations of the application in the summer of 2016. Although the event designed to bring together history and sociology researchers has been cancelled, the idea of creating a library dedicated to the great classified growths of 1855 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is still on the cards.

Following Burgundy and Champagne’s successful applications to be listed as Unesco world heritage in 2015 – respectively for their ‘climats’ and hillside vineyards and houses – two more applications are still in the running: Cognac and Sancerre.


Source: Vitisphere; Illustration: Table of the 1855 Grands Crus Classés by Carl Laubin.

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