Cru Bourgeois literally means "bourgeois plant" and describes a category of quality-oriented wineries in Bordeaux . They follow in the hierarchy on the Grand Cru Classés , which represent the "nobility" of Bordelais viticulture. The term Cru Bourgeois applies to the winery, the Château . It is not tied to the individual locations as in the German wine law or in Burgundy , as long as the vineyards are in the area of the Médoc appellations . The term Cru Bourgeois has only been protected by European law since 1979. In the 2003 classification, 247 châteaux were recognized as Crus Bourgeois. However, this was canceled in 2007, but re-enacted in a modified form in 2010.
The Crus Bourgeois des Médoc have come together in an association, the Alliance . In 2003 it comprised 230 châteaux with a total area of 7,200 hectares, that is 44% of the Médoc's acreage. Some particularly ambitious châteaux are, like the classified châteaux, members of the exclusive Union des Grands Crus . There is a qualitative hierarchy among the Crus Bourgeois: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel - Cru Bourgeois Supérieur - Cru Bourgeois.
In contrast to most other areas, viticulture in Bordelais was initiated and promoted by the bourgeoisie of the rich trading city of Bordeaux . Originally, therefore , Cru Bourgeois referred to all higher-quality wines of the Bordelais. The term has been used since the 15th century. However, the official classification of the Médoc wineries on the occasion of the Paris World Exhibition of 1855 created the Grands Crus Classés category for the top class , so that the name Crus Bourgeois was now reserved for the second guard.
The world economic crisis, with its severe consequences for viticulture, provided the occasion for a reorganization. An initial classification of the Crus Bourgeois was made in 1932, at that time there were 442 Crus Bourgeois, of which 99 were Supérieurs and 6 Supérieurs were exceptionnels . In 1962 the rules were redefined by the new Syndicat des Crus Borgeois . It only comprised 92 châteaux. Only establishments with at least 7 hectares of vineyards were permitted. Barrique aging was a prerequisite for the classification as Cru Grand Bourgeois . In order to become a Cru Grand Bourgeois Exceptionnel , additional quality criteria had to be met (planting density at least 6,500 vines per hectare, modern cellar technology, lock deduction), and the vineyards had to be in the Haut-Médoc area. In 1966 only 101 crus bourgeois were classified, of which 63 were grands bourgeois with 18 exceptionnels. In 1978 there was a new classification, and since then numerous other properties have joined the association. The term "Cru Bourgeois" was used increasingly inflationary: In 2002 there were over 600 different Crus Bourgeois, including some of dubious quality.
The viticulture policy wanted to put a stop to this development in 2000 with a ministerial decree. A commission consisting of 17 experts, the composition of which was confirmed by decree on January 31, 2001, assessed the quality of the production of all 490 candidate châteaux and carried out a classification. The criteria for this were the quality of the terroir and the vines, care in the cultivation of the soil and winemaking, consistency of quality, reputation of the château and quality of the wine. The classification was established by ordinance in 2003 and should be revised every twelve years. Of the 490 candidates, 247 were recognized and classified as Crus Bourgeois. In 2004 the Syndicate took on a new form of organization and became the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc .
A total of 77 rejected businesses, however, appealed on the grounds that several owners of Crus Bourgeois were also members of the commission. In January 2007, the independent French State Commissioner (Commissaire du gouvernement) requested that the classification be canceled. The competent administrative court had to make a decision within 21 days and granted this request: The 2003 classification of the Crus Bourgeois was revoked on February 27, 2007. This means that other, unclassified wineries are also allowed to designate their wines as Cru Bourgeois .
Not only the Bordeaux “nobility” of the Crus Classés, but also many Crus Bourgeois strive for high-quality work and good wine quality. Since no other good has been allowed to move up into the Crus Classés category since 1855, there are now qualitative overlaps: The wine of a high-class cru bourgeois good can in some cases be significantly better than the wine of a worse-performing Grand Cru winery. The Crus Bourgeois have committed themselves to a quality charter. The following are compulsory:
- no sale in the barrel
- Bottling on the estate itself
- Only sold in the second year following the harvest
- Regular quality checks based on samples from the trade.
Leading Crus Bourgeois
The top group of the Crus Bourgeois are the Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels (CBE). The following châteaux belong to this group in the 2003 classification:
Other renowned goods include:
Sociando Mallet is recognized as the best “non-Grand Cru” estate in the Médoc. It had been a member for many years and was classified as a CBE-Gut, but left the association around 2005 because they did not want to apply again for a classification to obtain the status. In any case, Sociando-Mallet can sell its wine at the level of Grand Crus Classés. The same applies to Chasse-Spleen, the winery that now has the best reputation of the Alliance members after the departure of Sociando-Mallet. Both wineries deliver wines that consistently play in the upper half of the Grands Crus in terms of quality, but at a price discount compared to equally good Grands Crus due to the lack of a name affix.
- Michel Dovaz: Encyclopédie des Crus Bourgeois du Bordelais . Editions de Fallois, 1992, ISBN 2-87706-162-0
- Denis Saverot: L'absurdité d'une décision . In: La Revue du Vin de France . No. 511, May 2007, , p. 3
- Jérôme Baudouin: Crus Bourgeois: la panne . In: La Revue du Vin de France . No. 511, May 2007, , p. 10