Cru Bourgeois overhauls classification system

22 September 2016

The Cru Bourgeois du Médoc classification, in place since 2010, is set to change significantly by 2020. Instead of evaluating wines for inclusion every year, as is currently the case, classification will now be valid for five years. In addition, the single classification will be expanded to include two higher quality levels.

The news came as the 2014 vintage Cru Bourgeois wines were showcased in London at a tasting event today. This year's classification includes 278 Crus Bourgeois du Médoc – the largest number in the seven years of the classification. The cru cover seven Médoc AOCs, and represent 30m bottles – 33% of production in the Médoc region. Exports account for 40%, and over half of the classified crus are available in the UK.

But while crus are currently evaluated every year, a new system will see that classification last for five years. The three new quality levels – Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel – are based on three historical categories.

'In this way we keep tradition, but bring modernity,' Armelle Cruse, VP of the Alliance des Crus Bougeois, told Imbibe today. The proposed changes were voted in by the Cru Bourgeois with 78% in favour.

To be eligible for the two higher quality levels, additional criteria will apply, including an evaluation of agricultural and environmental practices, the management of a property, and the way a winery promotes their wine, and the classification in general. Random testing of wines will be conducted over the five years too.

The motivation for introducing multiple quality levels is to encourage more premium Medoc wines to join the classification. 'We need to have some stars – they'll become the top of the pyramid,' said Cruse. 'They were there before, but we've been taking care of the basic wines until now. For those already creating wines of that quality, the brand didn't represent them enough, so the target is to bring them back.'

Cruse also hoped to encourage existing crus to move up to higher quality levels within the classification.

'The  new classification is an evolution, not a revolution. In Bordeaux, you can't make a revolution,' Cruse concluded.

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