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Cru Bourgeois du Medoc Planning to Revert to Three-Tier Wine Hierarchy

September 25, 2017

The Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc, representing a single-tier wine classification grouping more than 250 estates north of the city of Bordeaux, plans to revert to a three-tier system from around 2020 to bring more clarity to its hierarchy, according to Vice President Armelle Cruse.

The Crus Bourgeois ranking was re-established in its current form in 2010, covering vintages from 2008 onward, and encompasses 271 wine estates for the 2015 vintage being released to the market. The name dates back to the Middle Ages, when the citizens of Bordeaux were known as Bourgeois and the estates they were able to acquire were called Crus des Bourgeois.

An 1858 publication lists 248 Crus Bourgeois, of which 34 were classed `superieur’ 64 `bon’ and 150 `ordinaire’ while an attempt in 2003 to revive the system identified 247 estates, of which nine were ranked as `Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels’ and 87 `Crus Bourgeois Superieurs,’ with the remaining 151 simply labeled Crus Bourgeois.

Following a legal challenge to that system in 2007, it was reconstituted in its present form in 2010, and now the pressure is back to identify more clearly the standout producers within the ranking. The Crus Bourgeois producers are all in the Medoc region on the western side of the Gironde estuary, and represent the quality level immediately below the 61 top left-bank estates of the 1855 classification.

``It’s very important to have the hierarchy,'' Cruse said in an interview during the London tasting for the 2015 vintage Sept. 21. The 271 producers of the 2015 ranking made 32 million bottles from  an estimated 4,940 hectares (12,202 acres), corresponding to 31 percent of the Medoc region’s vineyards, according to Alliance data. ``We want to be the top third’’ of Medoc producers, she said.

The grouping includes producers such as Chateau d’Arsac in Margaux, Chateau Le Crock in Saint Estephe and Chateau Fonreaud in Listrac-Medoc.

In all, 122 of the current classification’s producers are in the Medoc appellation, 88 in Haut-Medoc, 19 in Saint Estephe, 15 in Moulis, 14 in Listrac-Medoc, 10 in Margaux and three in Pauillac, according to data from the Alliance, citing the Conseil des Vins du Medoc. None are from Saint Julien.

The AOC Medoc growers made 16 million bottles for the 2015 vintage, Haut-Medoc 11 million, Saint Estephe 1.5 million, Moulis 1 million, Listrac-Medoc and Margaux 900,000 each and Pauillac 200,000. 

There were as many as 278 producers in the 2014 Crus Bourgeois classification and as few as 243 in 2008, with output ranging between 25 million bottles in 2008 and 32 million in each of 2009, 2010 and 2015, according to the Alliance. Over the eight vintages that the current system has been in place, 228 million bottles have been authorized under the label of the classification.

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