The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc has announced the new Cru Bourgeois selection in Paris and London. The listing is an annual quality assessment, not a classification of chateaux or terroirs like the 1855 classification.
The original Cru Bourgeois classification was updated in 2003, and then annulled after 78 producers contested their exclusion. The new listing, of the 2008 vintage, took three years to come together and involved the Allliance des Cru Bourgeois, under the presidency of Thierry Gardinier of Chateau Phelan Segur, in months of tastings. Gardinier has since resigned the presidency – he explained that as he had withdrawn Phelan Segur as a cru bourgeois he felt it would be anomalous for him to continue as president – and has passed the baton to Frederic de Luze of Chateau Paveil de Luze in Margaux.
For the new classification a panel made up of paid wine professionals – but with no chateau owners – selected ‘benchmark’ wines which set the quality standard for all the 290 wines which applied for Cru Bourgeois status.
The benchmark – what consitutes the minimum level of acceptability for a cru bourgeois – is adjusted every year according to vintage quality. Thus in a poor vintage the number of labels is expected to drop.
Any chateau can apply to be a cru bourgeois; all wines are re-tasted between March and July every year for the new listing. Wines are tasted in barrel, with a percentage re-tasted after bottling in anonymous ‘shelf tests’ – ie the wines are chosen at random from retailers’ shelves.
The new listing is democratic, with all selected chateaux classed together and no Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnnels or Superieurs.
Indeed, a group of former Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnnels, including Chateau Chasse Spleen, Chateau Les Ormes de Pez, Chateau de Pez, Chateau Potensac, Chateau Poujeaux and Chateau Siran broke away from the Alliance in May this year, with the intention of forming their own grouping.