Archive for April, 2014


What is Cru Bourgeois

The French love to classify. Top dogs in the Bordeaux wine estates hang on to the classification ordered by Napoleon III in 1855 that is immutable ever since, although it is hard to believe a chateau should sit on the top without ever suffering a dinmunition of quality in wwell over a hundred years. Or conversely, a chateau at the bottom of the list might have improved enought to move up through the ranks. (Not the French way! They often react to change with a determined NON!)
While Crus Bourgeois wines from the Médoc have a particular typicity and quality, they were left out of the 1855 classification.
The history of the Cru Bourgeois classification has gone through some rough times. Its 1932 classification designated 444 estates as Cru Bourgeois but by the 1960s over 300 had been absorbed into other estates or had converted their land away from viticulture. These orphaned wineries of the Medoc banded together in the Cru Bourgeois classification to identify and give a commercial boost to lesser known estates. Cru Bourgeois wines have increasingly built a reputation for quality and value  representing only 40% of Médoc’s total production.
Rating the estates was based on tasting each property’s wines from 1994-1999. New or combined estates complained that tasting only up to the 1999 vintage discriminated against those estates which had recently improved. Today, the wines are labeled ‘Label Cru Bourgeois’ as a mark of quality based on production and quality standards, awarded each year. The single-tier classification will be based on a new set of production rules including 18 months ageing in barrel and independent quality testing.