The Cru Bourgeois Classification
For as long as there has been Bordeaux, there have been Bordeaux classifications. Well perhaps that is something of an exaggeration, but once it became apparent that the 1855 classification of the wines of the Médoc did not just order and classify those châteaux fortunate enough to have been included, it also conferred a degree of prestige, reinforcing their success, it is no exaggeration to say that the rest of Bordeaux wanted a piece of the classification action.
First off the blocks, perhaps understandably, given that many of the relevant proprietors could see how the 1855 classification had benefited their neighbours, were the unclassified châteaux of the Médoc. This group of properties had been known since at least the 15th century as the Cru Bourgeois, these being crus owned not by France’s aristocracy but by the middle class bourgeoisie, residents of the bourg (town, or borough if you prefer) of Bordeaux.
This movement was the beginning of the Cru Bourgeois classification. In this guide to the classification I will provide some history of its genesis, its demise in the early 21st century, and is gradual rebirth, culminating in the creation of a new classification in 2020, first conferred upon the 2018 vintage. And at the foot of the page, hopefully of use to readers with an interest in the history and evolution of Bordeaux, I provide details and full listings of the 2020, 2003, 1978 and original 1932 classifications.
The 1932 Classification
It was the combination of being excluded from the 1855 classification with the hardship experienced during the years following the Great War that galvanised the Cru Bourgeois proprietors into action. Working with the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture, a shortlist of eligible properties was drawn up.