How “Cru Bourgeois” Came Back From The Brink


Just over ten years ago, in 2007, the Cru Bourgeois ranking system was in tatters. The system brought in to give consumers a better view of the great and the good of the red wines of the Médoc (outside the 1855 classifications) was at breaking point.  Legal battles, rumours of nepotism by ruling councils, and even bribery had some Châteaux crying foul and walking away.  How did it get to that?

The idea of a Cru Bourgeois has been around since the 1932.  It was a ranking system rewarding Châteaux who consistently produced high-end wine and deserved higher recognition than basic AOC labeling.  Not satisfied by that distinction along, by 2000 the ruling council had also introduced two higher tiers to make three in total; Cru Bourgeois (151 in 2003), Cru Bourgeois Supérieur (87 in 2003), & Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels (9 in 2003).

Slight problem was that the ruling council also included 4 owners of Châteaux competing for (and attaining) the higher tiers.  Those left unhappy cried foul and the French court threw out the tiering system in 2007.

The Cru Bourgeois Council came up with a revised strategy.  They did away with the new tiers and by 2010 (judging the 2008 vintage), the revised Cru Bourgeois rated the wines, not the châteaux, each year for the honour.

The split remained however, with 2003 Exceptionnel properties, still a bit miffed at the accusations, refusing to be part of the revised system.  This included such top names such as Chasse-Spleen and Potensac.

Finally, however, it looks like rifts might be healed.  They’ve struck upon the idea of using the three tiers again, but this time…wait for it…using independent tasting panels.  Nice one brains, got there finally!!

So from 2020 (the 2018 vintage) the wines will be ranked every 5 years on a back catalogue of the previous 5 vintages by independent tasters.  It’ll also include marks for sustainability and tourism, echoing Saint Emilion’s Cru Classé system.  Very tidy indeed.

Now we just need the 1855er’s to be open to a rethink.  Fat chance!



For further info on the Vins Du Medoc, please visit their website by clicking here.

To enquire about buying Crus Bourgeois wines, get in touch with the team at 20h33



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