I got crazy excited when I recently discovered Cru Bourgeois wines! Say what, now? You might be saying, “Drink it? I can’t even pronounce it!” So let’s get past that right now: croo boorj-wah . There you go – parfait! Bourgeois means “citizens” in French, so this is like “the peoples’ wine.” And this people – me – says, “oui!”
I discovered this Château Lieujean Cru Bourgeois 2015 at Whole Foods a few weeks ago. It was a bad-ass bargain at $9.99! What the what? I’ve since bought a case because it is so freaking delicious. So I’ll just say it: Cru Bourgeois wines are the best red wines you’re not drinking. Yet.
The website of the Cru Bourgeois describes these wines quite well: “They’re never too candy-like or filled with excessive alcohol; they’re balanced and designed to highlight the foods you’re enjoying. … Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux is a drink you can enjoy every night of the week. The great Bordeaux wines listed in the 1855 classification are for special occasions. The excellent Grand Crus of Saint-Emilion are for another occasion – great wines for weddings and anniversaries.”
Cru Bourgeois wines are from the Haut-Médoc AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) within Bordeaux, on the Right Bank of the Gironde River. They are Cabernet Sauvignon- or Merlot-based, and other grapes allowed in Cru Bourgeois wines include Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Carménère. And because the 2015 Bordeaux vintage was a stellar one (fantastic weather for the first time in, like, five years, resulted in excellent grapes), you should look for 2015 Cru Bourgeois wines now! (Their fancier 2015 Grand Cru cousins won’t hit shelves for a couple of months.)
The term Cru Bourgeois came about in 1932, went away in 2007 and then came back again in 2009. It was originally created to designate a level of value and quality for a whole group of wines that did not make the cut in Napoleon’s 1855 Classification, but were very, very, very delicious. And they are all about $20 or less! Fantastique, oui?
The wines that get to put “Cru Bourgeois” on the label are determined by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois, which is made up of about 250 family-owned properties in the Haut Médoc. Once they judge a wine worthy of the Cru Bourgeois label, that wine can keep the label for five years, before it has to be judged again.
So, my suggestion to you, if you want to drink cheap and fancy all at the same time, is to ask at your wine shop for Cru Bourgeois wines. Once you find one you like, why not make it your vin de la maison? That’s fancy French for “house wine.” Cheers!