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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Cru Bourgeois at the International Wine Challenge 30th Anniversary Ball


A review of Cru Bourgeois wines at the International Wine Challenge awards dinner.
 
The International Wine Challenge, founded by Charles Metcalfe and Tim AtkinMW, celebrated its 30th birthday this year.
 
Any wine competition is only as good as the wines it rewards with accolades, so it therefore relies on the palates of the judges and Chairmen to ensure the oenological wheat is sorted from the vinous chaff.

Overall, I believe wine competitions are A Good Thing - with the aforementioned caveat about maintaining quality.
 
On the odd occasion - usually abroad on a family holiday - when I actually have to buy wine for general drinking for myself, faced with an aisle of wines to choose from, I pick a price point and a style, then invariably look for medal-winners. And so far, this has always served me well enough as an approach.
 
Would the non-medal-winning wine next along the shelf be as good as the one I pick? It might be - but then it might not. The lack of a medal may indicate that it simply was not entered into a competition, or it could have entered and failed to win anything.
 
A sensible medal (silver and above) from a reliable competition takes away that uncertainty and provides assurance of a threshold level of quality and typicity.

For the dinner and award ceremony itself, I sat on the Cru Bourgeois table with fellow blogger Denise Medrano, educator Laura Clay and MW Susan Hulme, along with Frédérique Dutheillet de Lamothe, Director of Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc.
 
Frédérique explained that her remit is both to ensure quality and also to raise the profile of the Crus Bourgeois wines; entry to Cru Bourgeois status for the mid-level wines of the right bank Medoc is not a once-and-forever decision, but re-assessed each year.
 
There is no maximum limit on the number of wineries that can be awarded Cru Bourgeois status, nor any guaranteed entry, but the number tends to hover around the mid-200s.
 
Retailing at around £15 - £25 in the UK, Cru Bourgeois is the solid mid-market of right bank Bordeaux wines - rather more expensive than everyday wines, but nowhere near the astronomical sums that classed growths, garagiste and other investment wines can command.
 
Before dinner, I tasted my way through a couple of dozen 2010 wines and whilst there was not time to take any detailed notes, consistency, quality and typicity were all high; with good fruit, solid underpinnings and "stuffing" plus structural interest, this is definitely a vintage and a mark to look out for; from the 2010 vintage onwards it is placed on every bottle.

The wines I tried were:
 
Médoc
Ch La Branne, Ch d'Escurac, Ch Leboscq, Ch Lousteauneuf, Ch Tour Prignac

Haut Médoc
Ch Arnauld, Ch Bellegrave du Poujeau, Ch Lamothe Bergeron, Ch Larose Trintaudon, Ch Malescasse, Ch Peyrabon

Listrac-Medoc
Ch Baudan, Ch L'Ermitage

Moulis
Ch Brillette, Ch Gressier Gd Poujeau, Ch Pomeys, Ch Dutruch Gd Poujeau

Margaux
Ch Haut Breton Larigaudiere

Saint Estèphe
Ch Le Crock, Ch Lilian Ladouys, Ch Vieux Coutelin
 
UK availability
Château Tour Prignac - 40% Merlot, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon; Nicolas £17
Château Larose Trintaudon - 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon; Fields Morris & Verdin £17
Château Peyrabon - 35% Merlot, 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot; Mellisima £22
Château Brillette - 48% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot; Nicolas, Spirited Wines, Fine & Rare £25
Château Dutruch Gd Poujeaux - 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot; Wine Society £15
Château Ht Breton Larigaudière - 11% Merlot, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot; Waterloo Wine Co £25
Château Le Crock - 33% Merlot, 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot; Berry Bros, Charles Taylor, Wine Story, Justerini & Brooks £15
Château Lilian Ladouys - 43% Merlot, 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc; Vineyards Direct, Cambridge Wine Merchants £19
 
I attended the IWC dinner as a guest of Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc.
 
Other related articles
 
Links
Cru Bourgeois - website

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