Crus Bourgeois reach for the sky

A category of Bordeaux wine reserved for the Médoc, Crus Bourgeois in some ways live in the shadow of the 1855-classifed Grands Crus. In actual fact, though, their origins stem from the same source.

Several centuries ago, in the market town of Bordeaux under English rule, merchants were allowed to sell wines produced from their vineyards levy-free both locally and in export markets. The privilege would enable them to make their fortune and they would go on to buy the finest vineyards in the Médoc as early as the 15th century. At the time, the term ‘Bourgeois’ referred only to its original meaning of ‘town dweller’ (‘bourg’ means town) and not to any kind of social class.


After a chequered history, their crowning moment finally came in the 20th century with landmark dates such as 1935 – the first real classification – then 1962 with the inception of the Médoc Crus Bourgeois producers’ organisation and 1979, when the Crus Bourgeois statement was permitted on labels. The last decade has allowed them to fully get up to speed and they are now unanimously hailed by both the trade and consumers. The reason for this is that they offer both good price points and quality due to demanding specifications whose primary focus is on site-expressiveness. It is essential to remember that they account for over 30% of Médoc production with some 28 million bottles annually. From this perspective, at the very least, they are on a par with the Grands Crus Classés. Probably their only remaining challenge is to nurture their image as successfully as the great growths have done and become an essential component of the market, both in France and internationally. They have certainly gone a long way towards achieving that already.



By Alain Echalier photographs - courtesy of the estates