27-march-2007.JPGBack in 1932, a bunch of Medoc wine producers decided to establish a new classification, aggrieved – as I’m sure they were – not to be included in the 1855 classification which today still reigns supreme as the list of the top ranking 60-odd chateaux on the Left Bank.  This despite it having remained virtually unchanged in the following 150-plus years!  This is astonishing when you think about the changes that have taken place during that time; changes in weather, wine-producing technology, techniques and, not least of all, ownership.  It’s illogical to think that there aren’t a number of chateaux not included in the original classification that are producing wine as good as classed growths (and, conversely, that the quality of the wine produced by a number of those in the 1855 classification hasn’t fallen).  Which is kind of where the Cru Bourgeois classification comes in.

What’s good about Cru Bourgeois is that it gets regularly reviewed, and chateaux do get promoted and demoted.  The problem with it is that there are far too many chateaux in the classification (nearly 250 in total).  Of this, 150 are simply “Cru Bourgeois”, 87 are “Cru Bourgeois Superieur” and nine are “Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel”.  I’d be tempted to regard the simple “Cru Bourgeois” tag as fairly meaningless and the “Superieur” label as a mark of some quality – but it’s the nine “Exceptionnels” however, that would have a fair argument of producing wine as good as the classed growths, at least at the 4th and 5th levels, but for generally less money.

They will certainly be names you’ve heard of: Chateau Chasse-Spleen, for instance, and Chateau Phelan-Segur (of which we recently had a bottle).  I’ve heard good things about Chateau Poujeaux and have a couple of bottles of the 2004 lying in wait in the cave (where they’ll be, unfortunately, for a while yet) but the best I’ve tasted so far – by a long way – is Chateau Potensac (website currently under construction). We had a bottle of the 2003 the other night and, OK, it could still be argued that it’s rather young and could do with a few more years lying down in a cool, dark room but, that being the case, it must mature into an amazing wine!

It was beautifully frutiy on the nose; smooth, rich in the mouth with fantastic blackcurrant flavours and a great finish.  Not too tannic either, which was a bit suprising.  All in all, a lovely wine and – at 17,75 euros from Carrefour in Saintes – excellent value.  I’ll be looking out for some more of the 2003 and also the ’04 and ’05 when it arrives.

Talking of arriving, you’ll be delighted to hear that the Reserve de la Comtesse 1988 has arrived safe and sound.  It’s currently recovering from its journey in the cave, but I think I’ll need to drink it soon.  The label looks a bit weather-beaten and the cap’s a little tatty at the bottom edge but, otherwise, it looks in good nick.