Bordeaux 2019 Cru Bourgeois at Two Years
I have enjoyed following the Cru Bourgeois wines of Bordeaux over the last decade or so, particularly when it comes to their annual London tasting. There are two principal reasons for this. First, if you ever need a reminder that Bordeaux is not all about over-priced wines made by besuited proprietors which can only be purchased if you first buy three cases of the entry-level cuvée, and sell one of your kidneys (take it from me, don’t sell both), this is the place to come. The Cru Bourgeois category is home to a number of renowned and also some less widely appreciated châteaux, many run by friendly folk who are keen to sell you a bottle of Bordeaux for a fair price. This is left-bank Bordeaux for drinkers, those of us who can appreciate the intrinsic qualities of the liquid in the bottle and in the glass, not for label obsessives.
Secondly, over the years I have relished the opportunity to watch the Cru Bourgeois category rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the old classification. As was also the case in St Emilion, the classification here was brought to its knees by legal challenges from disgruntled proprietors and their lawyers. In the end, nobody won (except maybe the lawyers). It is to the credit of those involved that the classification has been reborn, complete with a five-yearly renewal, and with three inner tiers, a return to the old system of Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. The new classification, on which I give more information in this previous report, was signed off in 2020 and applied for the first time to the 2018 vintage.
Following the collapse of the old classification for many years the tasting looked at an annually renewed selection of ‘classified’ wines, all from the one vintage. With the arrival of the 2020 classification, however, the tasting has taken on a new and more welcome format, looking at forty wines from the most recently bottled vintage, and forty from the preceding vintage. I have thus divided my report on this year’s tasting into two, starting here with the 2019 vintage. My next report will be an opportunity for me to revisit the 2018 vintage, which I previously reviewed in this extensive report on the Cru Bourgeois wines of 2018, within which I reviewed 150 samples, all tasted at home. I hope this ‘staggered’ approach continues, not least because I found it informative to revisit the older vintage after another year in bottle.
In this first report, I put the recently bottled wines of 2019 under the spotlight. Given that I have at the time of writing just returned from close to two weeks in Bordeaux, my time there spent tasting mostly 2019s, it seems like a good place to start. My reports on those wines, as well the Cru Bourgeois wines of 2018, will follow. First, a brief reminder of the growing season, but given that I will be publishing a large in-bottle 2019 report soon, in early 2022, I shall keep this very brief.