Saint-Emilion: the bio won it
How much are you ready to pay for a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru? Everyman's Superwine, in fact close to two-thirds can claim the label Grand Cru. "It is no guarantee of exclusivity or excellence," says the French-Swiss magazine Bon à Savoir.
Better go for Grand Cru classé, suggests its December issue. Even classier, go for one of the "Premiers grands crus classés A": there are only four of those.
If you don't mind forking out the cash, you could try the 14 class Bs. Most of us would go for one of the 64 Premiers grand crus classés. When a magazine panel tested 12 Saint-Emilions grand crus available in Switzerland, the three GCcs headed the standings.
You can pay CHF12 to CHF35 for a 2012 Grand Cru in the Swiss supermarkets (the mag set CHF35 as the top price it would expect consumers to pay).
To the surprise of everyone, the panel (which included the Lausanne Ecole hôtelière's professor of oenology), unanimously picked a bio wine as their favourite: the Château Fonroque for CHF29.90 in Manor. It was marked 16.5 points out of 20 (very good). None of the others reached 15 and were just rated "good".
Equally surprising, Aldi's Baron de Courcelle, one of thes two cheapest at CHF11.99, trailed the field and was only given 10.5 marks (unsatisfactory), the only wine in the batch to get less than 12. Lidl's Billeron Bouquey, at the same price, earned 13.7 (satisfactory). Claire Mallet of Geneva's Wine Trotter described it as "agreeable on the whole" but with a taste that suggested you should drink it soon. The three top wines (all at the top of the price range) could be kept until 2022 at least.
Price is not the deciding factor, though. An Aligro grand cru went for CHF31.60 but was behind the Lidl and a CHF14.95 Coop Chapelle Despagnet.
The twist to the tale of grand crus is that Napoleon III's administration only allowed the Bordeaux designation in 1855 to wines grown on the left bank of the Garonne. Pomerol and Saint-Emilion grew on the right bank. The Saint-Emilion growers set up their own ranking in 1955.
Apart from the Fonroque, the Clos des Jacobins in Aligro and the Grand Corbin Despagne in Manor are GCcs.