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New Cru Bourgeois scheme gathers momentum

Bordeaux’s Alliance Cru Bourgeois has taken another step towards launching a new classification scheme.

More than three-quarters of the Alliance’s 260 members have approved a quality charter for a new system that will apply to Médoc wines from the 2008 vintage.

The new system will award a Cru Bourgeois stamp of approval to wines on a yearly basis after a blind tasting by an independent panel.

This marks a distinct change to the previous Cru Bourgeois system, which established a fixed hierarchy of château in 2003.

Thierry Gardinier, president of the Alliance Cru Bourgeois, told decanter.com: ‘It isn’t the châteaux that are classified but the wines that are recognised, so it’s totally new. Each year we will classify the wines.’

The ‘exceptionnel’ and ‘superior’ categories within the previous cru bourgeois system have also been removed, Gardinier said.

‘There will be no cru bourgeois exceptionnel or superior. The system we have put in place can’t work with exceptionnel ratings.’

He added he wasn’t ruling out such tiers permanently. ‘I would like to have it but not for the first stage. If it is working well in two or three years we could think about bringing it in.’

Estates that wish to submit their 2008 vintage to the Cru Bourgeois panel for tasting at the start of 2010 must first pass an inspection of their property in the coming months.

Any Médoc château is eligible to apply if it owns a minimum 7ha in the Haut Médoc area or at least 4.5ha in one of the communal appellations including Pauillac and St Julien.

‘The last few years have been a bit of a mess but we hope the 2008 vintage will be the first year that the Cru Bourgeois label will be a real guarantee of quality,’ said Gardinier.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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