Bordeaux 2018 Cru Bourgeois: Haut-Médoc
In this, the second of my three sets of tasting notes reporting on the newly classified Cru Bourgeois wines in the 2018 vintage, I come to the Haut-Médoc appellation. Although this does not constitute the ‘meat’ of the new classification, the majority of the classified châteaux being located in the more northerly Médoc appellation (the Bas-Médoc as I used to see it called), it is the qualitative high-point.
While many ancient cru bourgeois properties in the Médoc communes have over the years been bought up and absorbed into neighbouring cru classé vineyards, a process which goes some way to explaining the paucity of worthwhile properties classified at this level in Pauillac and St Julien, and perhaps Margaux too, there are not so many potential buyers for the Haut-Médoc vineyards. As a consequence there remain many interesting properties here, châteaux sitting on good soils and making good quality wines, their fame muted only by their less exalted appellation. This corner of the classification is thus a fabulous hunting ground for those seeking out good value drinkers.
As a reflection of this quality the Haut-Médoc is home to a greater number of Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel châteaux than any other appellation.
Of the 249 classified properties in 2018, 88 are located here in the Haut-Médoc, and of these eight are ranked as Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. As the total number of Exceptionnels across the entire classification is only 14, it is clear that the Haut-Médoc dominates at this level (the other six, by the way, are all in the communal appellations, as there are no Exceptionnel properties up in the Médoc). There are 25 Cru Bourgeois Supérieur properties, which accounts for nearly half the 56 properties ranked at this level.