I never really got into Bordeaux. I know as a wine lover and writer that is close to blasphemous, but it is true. When I was leading bike trips in France, Bordeaux was the one of two major regions that I never visited (along with the Rhône Valley, the company I worked for did not lead trips there). Instead, I stuck to Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, the Loire, the Jura, and Provence.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, I realize that I had it pretty darned good (although at the time I would often quip that I had been barred from Bordeaux, but it was more of a scheduling quirk than anything else), but perhaps as a result, I never really developed a taste for or an understanding of perhaps the world’s most storied wine region. That’s too bad since, particularly early on in my guiding “career” many of the high-profile, top level Bordeaux wines were still more or less affordable.
In the last couple of years, however, I have a new-found desire to learn more about the region, but my interest does not lie with those wines at the top of the 1855 classification (those are now priced somewhere above the stratosphere), but rather an interestingly titled classification: Cru Bourgeois.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article for Snooth.com entitled “There is Nothing Bourgeois about Cru Bourgeois” in which I briefly lay out the rather fascinating history of the classification. In short, unlike the 1855 classification of the higher growths, the more forward thinking folks behind Cru Bourgeois evaluate the wines every year to determine which wines deserve to affix the “Cru Bourgeois” title to the label.
A couple of months ago, I was sent several Cru Bourgeois wines for an online seminar. Unfortunately, I was out of the country at the time of the event, so I could not participate, but tasting through the wines, I was so impressed that I decided they needed a stand-alone post.
2014 Moulin à Vent Moulis en Médoc Cru Bourgeois: Retail $25. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. Upon opening, this could best be described as a bit stoic—there was not much going on other than a hint of fruit, a touch of tannin, and a bunch of acid. But after a bit of time open and the introduction of some lamb chops, this puppy began to sing (or bark—don’t want to mix metaphors). Dark red berry fruit with some anise and tobacco. On the palate? Balanced and restrained with soft fruit, plenty of tartness, and a lingering finish. Nice. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Château Castera Médoc Cru Bourgeois: Retail $22. 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Pretty darned dark in the glass with really dark berry fruit: blackberry, cassis. Black pepper. Dark. On the palate? A bit lighter than the nose would have suggested, with ample fruit, a bit of anise, and considerable acidity to hold it all together. A fine quaff that benefitted greatly from the food. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2014 Tour Castillon Médoc Cru Bourgeois: Retail $20. 55% Merlot, 38 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Deep inky dark purple with violet, cassis, and a meaty component yearning to pair with the lamp chops we had grilled just moments prior. The fruitiest thus far on the palate with blackberry, some mocha, and a bit of forest floor. Simply put, this is scrumptious—it stood out on day one and did the same a day later. Perhaps the most “New World”of the bunch, it still has plenty of Old World verve. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Château Meyre Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois: Retail $24. 44 % Merlot, 40 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 11 % Petit Verdot, 5 % Cabernet Franc. Another dark one in the glass but this is both more floral and vegetal with cherry, rose petals and just a touch of bell pepper. Initially a bit linear, but followed by more fruit and a bit of intrigue. Dark on the mid-palate which was gently eased by the lamb chops, and a lingering finish. This is a bit outside the others as it has a few personalities. Difference, even confusion, should often be celebrated. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 Château La Haye Saint Estèphe Cru Bourgeois: Retail $20. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. As what seems to be par for the course, this is quite dark in the stem with black pepper, anise, cassis. On the palate, really a joy. The fruit is there, but not overstated, the spice comes in gradually, as does the earth. Really, this might be the best of the bunch—plenty of intrigue, fruit, and fun. Well done. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.