Cru Bourgeois properties can’t rest on their laurels. Every year they have to reapply for the right to use the qualification Cru Bourgeois on their labels.
The list of successful candidates for the 2013 vintage was just announced. Why now? Well the wines are tasted at the point of being released onto the market place. So they will be heading your way for the end of year festivities.
251 properties make up the new official 2013 selection; you can see the complete list here. They represent about 30% of the surface area and 25% of the production of the Médoc including the appellations Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. That’s about 20 million bottles released onto the markets at home and abroad.
If you need proof that it is not an automatic right check out the figures since the creation of the new quality control introduced in 2010 for the 2008 vintage.
2008 – 243 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
2009 – 246 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
2010 – 260 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
2011 – 256 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
2012 – 267 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc
The selection is severe and influenced by the general quality of the vintage but numbers are also increasing as the producers see the growing success and reputation of the Cru Bourgeois name and the commercial advantage that sporting the Cru Bourgeois label can bring. A total of 166 million bottles have been released onto the market over the last six years, which gives an impetus to the ‘brand’.
The challenge doesn’t stop at the selection. At its creation in in 1932, the Cru Bourgeois classification had a hierarchy of 3 levels: Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. This three-tier system was abandoned in the new organisation but they are now looking at reintroducing a hierarchy within the classification over the next few years. In the meantime, they measure up against each other in an annual blind tasting competition. The ‘Coupe des Cru Bourgeois’ takes place in June each year and selects 12 champions from across the appellations.
The last Coupe took place at Vinexpo in June this year. An international jury of wine professionals tasted their way through all the Cru Bourgeois and amongst the 12 top properties they selected one final winner: Château Lilian Ladouys in Saint-Estèphe.
The organisation behind the classification, The Alliance des Cru Bourgeois, continues to innovate with their promotions too. A few weeks ago, I joined eight of the twelve winners of the Coupe in a live on-line tasting from Château Paveil de Luze in Margaux, directly broadcast to journalists in the US. They tasted the same wines in America while the owners and wine makers tasted with them, explaining the particularities of each one and answering questions over a live twitter feed.
If you can’t come to the Cru Bourgeois, they will come to you – you can see the video of the tasting here.