Bordeaux 2018 Cru Bourgeois: Médoc Communes
I begin my three sets of tasting notes with the famous Médoc communes of Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux, and of course the not-quite-so-famous communes of Listrac-Médoc and Moulis-en-Médoc. The reason for starting here is historical; when I first reported on the annual Cru Bourgeois classification, in the 2010 vintage, I started here thinking this was where the most interesting wines might be. After all, if you are looking for a good value alternative to Château Pontet-Canet or Château Léoville-Barton, why not look first to those estates located just down the road?
It did not take long for me to realise this hunt was, for a combination of reasons, never going to bear fruit. While there are still a good number of worthy cru bourgeois châteaux in Saint-Estèphe, and a handful in Margaux, the two appellations sandwiched in-between are something of a desert in this regard. Nevertheless, there are still some interesting and exciting wines to be found in this corner of the classification. Before we get to them, first a quick look at how the communes contribute to the new five-year ranking.
The new Cru Bourgeois classification is applied for the first time to the 2018 vintage, and is applicable for five vintages, with a reclassification due in the 2023 vintage (which will presumably be announced in 2025). In total 249 châteaux were classified, accounting for 31% of the wine produced on the Médoc peninsula. Of the 249 properties only 46 are in the six communal appellations listed at the top of this page, and of these six are Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel and 15 are Cru Bourgeois Supérieur.
As you might expect Saint-Estèphe leads the way with 15 châteaux classified, including three ranked as Exceptionnel and five as Supérieur, closely followed by Listrac-Médoc with 14 châteaux, including one ranked as Exceptionnel and four as Supérieur. When I spoke with Alliance president Olivier Cuvelier a couple of weeks ago he remarked that the classification had provided some surprises for the courtiers and négociants working in Bordeaux, and I wonder whether he was thinking of the classification of a Listrac-Médoc estate as Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel when he said that?