Cru Bourgeois: The Secret to Buying Affordable Bordeaux

By May 24, 2012Winemakers

Today we started our quest for affordable bordeaux. After days of tastings at cru classé wineries, all of today’s visits were to cru bourgeois estates. The designation cru bourgeois  was formalized in 2003 and updated in 2008 to offer an elite status to Médoc wineries that had improved immensely in quality but had no chance whatsoever to get into the

Chateau Vieux Robin cru bourgeois

rigid 1855 classification. According to the current regulations, wineries get nominated annually for cru bourgeois designation, with new reviews each year. So a winery can get booted out of the cru bourgeois listings. In addition, for exceptional years, the cru bourgeois commission can call a particular vintage superior, or even exceptional.

We started with a private visit to Phélan Ségur where visits aren’t normally offered and their wines are not for sale. We were treated to a vertical tasting of the 2006 through 2009 vintages and the winemaker decided to add the exceptional 2005.

Chateau Phélan Ségur cru bourgeois

We then took a short ride to Chateau Loudenne and after the tasting of their basic white, red and rosé, had lunch in the kitchen prepared by their private chef, accompanied by their ’09 white bordeaux (sauvignon), and the Loudenne ’09 and ’05.

After our leisurely lunch we had another short ride to Chateau La Cardonne where we tasted their fabulous (88 Wine Advocate) reasonably priced wine and visited their 2 million bottle warehouse of older vintages!

We ended the day with a visit to a winery of another dimension: the family owned Vieux Robin, producer of truly outstanding value wines (88 Wine Advocate). Value translated means under 20 euros a bottle for quality that can rival cru classé wines.

At tonight’s diiner at the hotel, we had a special treat: two winemakers in our group presented some of their wines to accompany our food. Special thanks to Bruce Adams for his California tempranillo and to Neill Bassford and Bob Cecil for their Maryland Syrah and Cab France. All outstanding!

Tomorrow we continue our quest for affordable bordeaux. Meanwhile you can view additional photos of our bordeaux tour updated daily at

Neill Bassford

Bruce Adams

portable bottling line at Phélan Ségur

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