The Medoc’s Cru Bourgeois 2013 wines appeared in the UK yesterday, with producers claiming that their stringent judging process has safeguarded quality for the third difficult year on the trot.
Described by some producers as one of the hardest vintages for the last 30 years, 2013 saw a late start to the growing cycle and an early harvest due to the threat of rot, making for many wines that were barely ripe.
As a result, while the number of estates receiving Cru Bourgeois status, 251, is about average, the total production is just 20m bottles. By comparison, the sublime 2009 saw some 32m bottles of Cru Bourgeois wine hit the market.
‘There was a strong cut in the number of wines submitted,’ says Frédérique Dutheillet de Lamothe, director of the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc.
Certainly, at the tasting in London, while there was evidence of a difficult year, there was also proof of more skilled work in both winery and vineyard to make the most of the meagre bounty that nature provided.
‘I wouldn’t say they were stunning, but they were a lot better than they would have been from a vintage like that 20 years ago,’ said one taster.
And while Bordeaux is frequently criticised for the prices of its top wines, the Crus Bourgeois were mostly between £10 and £20. ‘These are not wines for speculation,’ said Dutheillet de Lamothe. ‘They don’t go up and down very much. The average [consumer] RRP is £16, which is affordable.’
Over the next year, the Cru Bourgeois plan to target sommeliers for an extensive programme of training, possibly including a virtual tasting. Such an event, featuring over a dozen sommeliers and bloggers tasting online with the growers in France, has already been tried in the States with great success.
‘In events like this we’re often ahead of everyone else,’ commented Dutheillet de Lamothe. ‘If it attracts attention, that’s good!’