Do you enjoy wine travel? Many wine lovers enjoy traveling to wine regions all over the world. In the US, a visit to Napa Valley is not only a wine lover rite of passage, it is like wine Disney World for adults. Here is another question: Do you drink Bordeaux frequently? Or do you believe a Bordeaux a day is more than you wallet can handle? What if you could combine wine travel and delicious Bordeaux without having to rob a bank? Cru Bourgeois has the answer.
Are you familiar with Cru Bourgeois? This Bordeaux classification has a long and verbose history. In short, in the fifteenth century French laws changed, allowing non-aristocrats to own Chateaux in Bordeaux. The “bourg” of Bordeaux were merchants and craftsmen who acquired means through international trade. They used their newfound wealth to purchase Chateaux in the Medoc. Over the years the unofficial Cru Bourgeois classification has had its share of ups and downs. However, on May 21, 1962, a union of the Cru Bourgeois was created in Pauillac. Through additional ups and downs, in June 2003, the union finally approved the first official classification of Crus Bourgeois du Medoc. Unlike the 1855 classification, the Crus Bourgeois wineries must submit their wines each spring to be judged by an independent panel to determine who meets the stringent qualifications to be labeled Crus Bourgeois.
What does all of this mean to you, the wine consumer? It means you can purchase high quality Bordeaux wines from eight prestigious AOC’s: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis en Médoc, Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe, each with a unique profiles and terroirs. Furthermore, many of the Crus Bourgeois wineries are smaller Chateaux that are family owned and operated, they highly hospitable, and would love to welcome you.
Have you ever considered a Bordeaux wine vacation? Bordeaux city is easy to get to from Paris by either a short commuter flight or by train. It is a wonderful city with world class restaurants, historical churches, museums, shopping, and you cannot miss the fascinating and educational Cité du Vin. It is a booming city with much to offer. Stepping out of the city into the wine country is like two separate vacations in one. Additionally, Médoc is a beautiful launching point to visit the rest of Bordeaux.
Here are five Crus Bourgeois wineries that want to offer you a wonderful Bordeaux experience:
Located in Haut- Médoc, Chateau Meyre is a short 30 minute drive from the airport and 45 minutes from downtown. It offers a warm nine room hotel that is ideal for a Bordeaux Chateau wine vacation. The Chateau has been growing vines for more than 300 years, and organic since 2011. Welcoming guests year round with weekend getaways, golfing vacations, and romantic vacations built for two. They also host weddings and other special events. To learn more and plan your visit click here.
2014 Chateau Meyre Haut-Médoc France ($19): Merlot 44%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40% , Petit Verdot 11%, Cabernet Franc 5%; deep ruby; medium aromas of black fruit, pepper, roses, sweet baking spices, dusty earth, touch of bell pepper; harmonious on the palate, pronounced grippy tannins and high acidity, full-body, great with food, decant for maximum enjoyment.
Once you’ve gotten settled into your accommodations its time to explore Médoc. Chateau Tour Castillon is the ideal wine for outdoor exploration and enjoyment. The Chateau contains hiking trails for the adventurous outdoor wine lover. These trails are open to the public every Wednesday and Friday morning in July and August. In addition to hiking, the Chateau hosts jazz concerts, evening wine tastings at their wine bar, tours of the facilities, and boat rides on the estuaries of the La Gironde. This is a full Crus Bourgeois immersion. To learn more click here.
2014 Chateau Tour Castillon Médoc France ($21): 55% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvginon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot; deep ruby with inky purple hues; pronounced aromas of black fruit, roses, pepper, sweet baking spice, leather, cocoa; full-body, fruit forward palate balanced with earthiness; medium+ acidity and tannins, highly approachable wine.
Chateau Castera has a long and rich history in Bordeaux. Today, they are open year around to receive guests to explore their beautiful property, discover their history, and taste their wines. They offer three inexpensive tours, two of which are open to and free for children. You may reserve any of the tours on their web site by clicking here.
2014 Chateau Castera Médoc France ($19): 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot; deep ruby with purplish-black hues; medium+ aromas of cooked black fruit, dried roses, black pepper, leather, sweet baking spices, olive tapenade; lighter on palate than nose suggests, balanced with great structure, pronounced dusty tannins and acidity, full body long finish; decant for maximum enjoyment if consuming now.
Chateau La Haye is one of the oldest castles in Saint-Estèphe. The vineyards were established in 1557 and remained in the same family for 370 years, until 2012 when it was purchased by Chris Cardon who became familiar with it due to his participation in the Marathon du Médoc. The Chateau has a colorful history of royalty and adultery that must be experienced. The welcome visitors for tours and tastings April through September. In their own words, “Coming from Pauillac, do not stop at Château Lafite’s weeping willows, do not be stunned by the Tower of Cos d’Estournel. Once on the hill, do not be blinded by the yellow Lafon Rochet, turn right and come into Leyssac, where you can relax under the three-centuries-old cedar of Château La Haye.” Click here to make a reservation.
2014 Chateau La Haye Saint-Estèphe France ($19): Blend of all five Bordeaux grapes; deep ruby; pronounced aromas of baked black and red fruit, dried roses, sweet baking spice, cocoa, tobacco, trailing vanilla; full body, pronounced acidity, medium+ tannins that are youthful yet approachable, balanced with great structure and smooth mouthfeel, long finish.
Chateau Moulin à Vent is an ideal representation of its appellation. The estate vineyards are more than 200 years old. It is unique because it is run entirely by women, producing organic wines with a maternal touch. The property is open Monday through Friday for a tour and tasting. Click here to schedule a visit.
2014 Chateau Moulin à Vent Moulis en Medoc France ($17): Blend of all five Bordeaux grapes; deep ruby with garnet hues; medium+ aromas of dark black fruit, savory dried herbs, sweet baking spice, smoked meat, licorice; full-body, medium+ acidity and tannins that are a bit grippy, balanced and approachable, perfect weeknight wine.
To stream line your visit, Crus Bourgeois has an easy to use web site and smartphone app designed to help you get the most out of your stay. They provide an interactive list of current winery members, their location, amenities, and driving directions with a map.
Of course before you invest time and money planning a trip to Bordeaux you want to taste these wines first. Each wine is high in quality and available in the US for less than $20. Yes, affordable Bordeaux. Like I said, a Bordeaux a day…. To insure you are purchasing a Crus Bourgeois with the highest quality controls make sure to look for the Crus Bourgeois sticker on every bottle. This sticker assures quality and security for professional buyers and consumers. For further information, wine lovers can scan the QR code on the sticker with your smartphone camera and you will receive immediate information on the wine and chateau from the Crus Bourgeois web site. How cool is that?!
So what are you waiting for? Head to your favorite local wine retailer or online to pick up a bottle of Crus Bourgeois for under $20, and start planning your Bordeaux adventure.
*Disclosure: These 5 wines were sent to me as media samples; all thoughts on a Bordeaux vacation and opinions about the wines are my own.