Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels – Part 1

Brian Clark Interviews Brigitte Miailhe of Château Siran

In 2003, the Official Classification of Médoc Crus Bourgeois was established. It comprises 247 growths, selected from 490 candidates. A hierarchy of merit was established, divided into three categories: Cru Bourgeois (151 growths), Cru Bourgeois Supérieur (87 growths), and the top level – Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel (9 growths). It took effect starting with the 2003 vintage, and the classification will be revised every 12 years.

In today’s roundtable discussion we sit down with the represenatives of the Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel and discuss what this group means to them and you the consumer.

The 9 members of the Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel include:

(Present for Roundtable)
Château Chasse-Spleen – Jean-Pierre Foubet
Château Labegorce Zédé – Delphine Daroil Kolassa
Château Les Ormes de Pez – Sylvie Cazes Regimbeau
– Château Pez (de) – M. Xavier Barlier
Château Phélan Ségur – Stéphane Gardinier
Château Poujeaux – Christophe Labenne
Château Siran – Brigitte Miailhe
(Not Present)
Château Potensac
– Château Haut-Marbuzet

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Show #87
(33:30 min 15 MB)

18 Responses to “Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels – Part 1”

  1. 1 Charity Stephenson May 9th, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for the podcast on crus bourgeois. I am intimidated to buy French bordeaux, especially when all I knew of classification was 1st, 2nd growth, etc (at $300 or more a bottle). Now that you’ve outlined the cru bourgeois classification, could I ask anyone out there to take it a bit further…I would like to purchase a couple of these “exceptionnels” but which to choose? And which year? If I want to taste in a year or two, when between 1985 and 1995 should I start with? Open to suggestions! Thanks!

  2. 2 Heather May 10th, 2006 at 7:45 am

    Really liked this podcast — I learned a lot. (Chasse-Spleen’s name always gave me a private giggle, because I thought it was an unintended embarassment in translation … little did I know it’s on purpose!) And how great it is to hear from all the Frenchwomen who are organizers in this new classification. But I have so many questions still! Were there any surprises among your guests when the final list was announced? Any chateaux they felt should have made “exceptionnel” but didn’t? Which wines are the best of the “superieur” in their opinions (nipping at their heels)? Why did they go for a separate, parallel classification to the 1855 cru system, instead of trying to subvert the dominant Bordeaux paradigm? And I couldn’t hear when the guests described their average prices in the US. Maybe you’ll get to some of this next podcast.

  3. 3 Elizabeth Brown May 10th, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Hi guys, i’m a fan who listens to every show. Got to say this was one of your weaker shows in recent times. Come on guys – got to at least try to say the names and chateaus in French! And it seemed a quarter of the show was about wine-searcher. I hope in the next show we can differentiate who is talking about what, and the questions to the panel are a bit more thought provoking.

  4. 4 Deb May 11th, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for this great podcast. I’ve just starting buying Bordeaux futures (wine geek status?) in 3-bottle lots to learn more about the regional wines because Burgundy prices are, lets face it, completely out of sight. I had an excellent 1985 Bordeaux that cost 3x my usual budget, and someone suggested I started buying futures and ageing them myself. My budget is under $30 a bottle, and I’ve been able to get well-reviewed, highly rated wines easily–and after the podcast I now know they are cru bourgeois wines. A fair number are cru bourgeois exceptionnel from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages. Now I will seek wines with this designation out “beyond the ratings” bubble. Please thank your presenters from Bordeaux for this really informative podcast. I look forward to tasting their wines in the next 4-10 years and I have every anticipation based on my appreciation for the 1985 I had that this is an area where I will continue to buy and collect.

  5. 5 Fitzgerald Gonzalez May 18th, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    Wow…Elizabeth writes that she doesn’t like the particular podcast and she doesn’t get one comment flaming her?….Double standard….

  6. 6 J May 20th, 2006 at 3:56 am

    Gotta agree with Elizabeth. You guys are far enough along in this podcast that it’s no longer a purely amateur outfit. Your sponsors list is becoming more impressive as well. So harping about the difficulty of pronouncing French estate names, or the difficulty of reading German wine labels, no longer really cuts it. Do some research beforehand! Otherwise, the show is fantastic — your list of guests becomes more impressive with each episode. A real testament to the success of this podcast.

  7. 7 GrapeRadio Bunch May 20th, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    This is a tough crowd to please. I like that! To be honest, I spent a great deal of time researching the group. For those of you that are not aware, all of us have full time, paying jobs. I could never devote the time to GrapeRadio it deserves. I do have to make a living.

    The comments about our weak language skills are fair critiques. All that I ask iall of you is to cut us some slack on this point. Give us more time to improve. To be honest, I am a tad gun shy to do more due to the reaction we get. The ironic thing is that our host were much more understanding on this point than our fans.

    Lastly, I take no offense at all to the comments. How could I? They were spot on accurate. Frankly, this kind of mild complaint forces me not to get lazy on this point.


  8. 8 Heather May 23rd, 2006 at 6:11 am

    Props to “J” for championing the ladies’ complaints. I’m just glad to see so many of us commenting. And Jay, you are running for cover from the wrong offensive. Listeners are not taking aim at your pronunciation; they are asking you to show leadership in the broad-based struggle among American wine lovers to master European wine names and terms. How about a podcast on it?

  9. 9 GrapeRadio Bunch May 24th, 2006 at 2:35 am

    I did not feel I was running for cover. I do feel it is a tad unfair to imply we are not trying. Could we try harder? I suppose so.

    I have enough on my plate just producing GrapeRadio. Not sure how much more I can push myself.

    This subject would make a great podcast. Thansk for the idea.


  10. 10 Jerry Raphael Jun 1st, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    You guys need to take some French language lessons. Have names, wines, etc spelled out phonetically, do something, it’s embarrassing. I do enjoy your shows but they will start to get old. I do not think you want to get old in this new broadcast medium. I know you have day jobs but I would not quit them too soon.

  11. 11 GrapeRadio Bunch Jun 4th, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    Can we stop beating this dead horse? How many mea culpas do we need to make.

    Please consider GrapeRadio Europe as a move in the right direction.

  12. 12 Zim Jun 7th, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    I’d like to flog that cheval just a bit more, but with a different whip. I struggle with French pronunciation, especially when it comes to dealing with the accent marks and whether to sound the “s” on the end of some words. So while Jay may also struggle, I was pleased to be able to hear the owners pronounce the names of their chateaus and some other terms. Thanks — I found the show informative.

  13. 13 connie Sep 25th, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Do you think you could repost for download this podcast – cru bourgeois exceptionnel part 1… i managed to subscribe and download part 2 – that’s when I “found” grape radio… but i missed part 1!

    by the way – bravo on having such great “inside tracks” on the Galloni / new Parker hire – very informative!

    bravo as always…

  14. 14 GrapeRadio Bunch Sep 25th, 2006 at 7:25 pm
  15. 15 Jim Cramer Feb 5th, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels Annulled!

    I really like these 2 shows and re-listen to them everyone once in a while – picking up more information each time. I made a mental note to start looking for the wines with this moniker and was about to start looking for some of the wines. Tonight I thought I would see what the web had to say about the classification and much to my surprise discovered that the classification has been annulled by the courts in France – about 6 months after the shows. Below are 2 web sites with this information. BTW, Karen MacNeil’s “Wine Bible” has the same information. Too bad, the people are great and these shows are great French pronunciation practice too.

    Thought you would like to know…
    Cru bourgeois classification annulled
    February 28, 2007

    Maggie Rosen

    The latest cru bourgeois classification has been annulled by a court in Bordeaux, it emerged yesterday.

    The 2003 law that established the hierarchy of the cru bourgeois wines in the Medoc was annulled by the administrative court of appeals in Bordeaux.

    The repeal effectively returns the Médoc classification to its original 1932 status, and allows nearly 200 chateaux eliminated in the 2003 revision to call their wines cru bourgeois.

    The ruling also rescinds the cru bourgeois superieur and cru bourgeois exceptionnel rankings, affecting 87 and nine chateaux respectively.

    All Chateaux, including the ‘exceptionnel’ Chasse-Spleen, Poujeaux and Phélan Ségur, revert, along with the 444 chateaux of the 1932 classification, to a simple ‘cru bourgeois’ status.

  16. 16 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 6th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I did not know that. Do you think we should do a follow-up?

  17. 17 Jim Cramer Feb 7th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Hmmmm, nice thought. Every time I listen to this, I hear a lot of sincerity and love of what they do in their voices. Was it the same for you listening to them in person? I felt really badly for them when I read this information. It would be nice to hear if they are appealing the ruling or perhaps building the case for a new “bias-free” classification. With the little bit of searching I have done, it seems as if each one of their wines is well respected and worth searching out. I am emotionally pulling for them to be recognized for their efforts and superior results. A follow up would be very interesting to me and maybe other listeners(?).

  18. 18 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 9th, 2008 at 7:04 am

    I will talk to them and see what they think.


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