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Cru bourgeois conundrum

Bordeaux’s reds beyond the 1855 classification can offer fantastic value. But ranking them has caused controversy and discontent. A frustrated Clive Coates MW tracks the chequered history of the region’s crus bourgeois

Coates’ most consistent cru bourgeois performers

Château d’Escurac (cru bourgeois)

Jean-Marc Landureau’s wine comes from Civrac in the Bas-Médoc and is matured in a deconsecrated 11th-century chapel. I’m convinced this helps the wine attain the calm and balance it so often has.

Château Potensac

This estate is owned by Léoville-Las Cases. It’s a firm, long-lasting wine from the Bas-Médoc, and by far the best wine from this appellation.

Château Sociando-Mallet

My prime candidate for upgrading. You can’t get any further north and still be in the Haut-Médoc. The vineyard lies on a splendidly exposed gravel plateau overlooking the Gironde estuary. A profound wine.

Château Phélan-Ségur

Consistently well-made wines from this deservedly popular St-Estèphe estate.

Château Haut-Marbuzet

Unexpectedly the percentage of Merlot here is high. This, plus a high proportion of new oak, produces an exotic wine. Play Scheherazade on the hi-fi while you drink it.

Château Lalande-Borie

From the Durcu-Beaucaillou stable, which means you can’t get much more reliable. It needs more time than most.

Château Moulin de la Rose

A small estate and rarely seen as a result, but a wine of real St-Julien elegance.

Château Caronne-Ste- Gemme (cru bourgeois)

The vineyard is prone to frost and lies on the south side of the ditch that divides Châteaux Lagrange and Gruaud-Larose in St-Julien from the commune of St-Laurent. Very stylish wine. And quite frankly absurdly cheap for the level of quality.

Château La Gurgue

Pronounced with two hard Gs, like gurgle. A delicious, proper Margaux with vineyards up on the plateau near those of the château itself, and made by the delightful Claire Villars.

Château Monbrison

Lying on the Cantenac side of Labarde, and with vineyards that march with Angludet and Giscours, Monbrison has for years served up a delicious wine with all the fragrance of its Margaux appellation.

Cru Bourgeois 2011: 58 of the best

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