Slings and Arrows in Bordeaux

Another lawsuit erupts out of the controversial St.-Emilion classification. Plus, do older drinkers get drunk faster?

Gossip as poisonous as pesticides, anonymous informants, rampant greed … the latest primetime TV drama? No, it’s just St.-Emilion. Bordeaux’s Right Bank appellation has been rankled by controversy and lawsuits over its classification system for years. A new book, Vino Business, by French journalist Isabelle Saporta, has caused a firestorm for its criticism of the French wine trade, including Angélus co-owner Hubert de Boüard and his role in the 2012 St.-Emilion classification. Saporta alleges that de Boüard, who she refers to as the “seigneur de St.-Emilion,” used his influence as a member of the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) and various other committees to gain promotion for Angélus, vastly increasing the château’s land value. In response, de Boüard has launched a lawsuit against Saporta and her publisher for defamation of character.

In an interview with Unfiltered, Saporta defended her book and upcoming documentary, the results of a two-year investigation and one year filming with de Boüard, Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt and Jean-Luc Thunevin, among others. Regarding de Boüard, Saporta said, “I gave him the chance to speak. I understand that my conclusions don’t please him … I have the impression that people in the wine world are used to controlling communications that concern them.” The documentary will air before autumn, and publishers are vying for foreign rights to the book. While Saporta told Unfiltered she’d received wide support from château owners, she also faces public criticism. “I’ve never faced this kind of virulence,” she said. De Boüard was unavailable for comment.

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Slings and Arrows in Bordeaux