Cru Bourgeois to revive higher categories

The Alliance des Cru Bourgeois du Médoc is to revive the ‘Supérieur’ and ‘Exceptionnel’ categories when it launches its new classification in 2020.

cru-bourgeois-image-for-2014-official-selectionThe new classification in 2020 will bring an end to the yearly assessments that have run since 2008 and the categories assigned to estates from then on will stand for five years.

Châteaux can simply apply to be ‘Cru Bourgeois’ or they can apply for the ‘Supérieur’ and ‘Exceptionnel’ categories where, in addition to passing a qualitative tasting test, they must pass three other criteria including their agricultural and environmental practices, property management and promotion of their wine.

At the most basic level the 2020 classification will remain true to the current annual assessment. An estate’s eligibility will first of all be considered and then wines from the five most recent vintages in bottle (2008-2016) will be tasted to test to ensure there is a consistency to the château’s output.

Those applying for ‘Supérieur’ and ‘Exceptionnel’ status will also have to:

A) Show good agricultural and environmental practices, with certification from the French Ministry of Agriculture for level 2 and 3 initiatives such as EMS and HEV3.

B) Management of the property will be assessed with regards traceability of individual plots during vinification and conditions during vinification and ageing with aim to optimising the quality and character of the wine at every stage.

C) Estates must demonstrate how they promote their wine and estate, if they receive visitors, their distribution channels domestically and abroad and their pricing policy.

These three criteria will be run by professional jury and supervised by an independent committee that is yet to be chosen. The new vice-president of the Cru Bourgeois association, Amelle Cruse, told the drinks business that the idea was both to make it difficult to achieve one of the higher classifications but also to eliminate complaints from château owners that their wine missed out on a better grade based on a tasting alone.

Cruse said she welcomed the return of the categories saying it was “really motivating” for the estates and it was important for properties that “are ambitious, that don’t just want to be Cru Bourgeois.”

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