The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 65 of 100

{ }  65 In order to get an informed view of how Cru Bourgeois actually operates, I interviewed Alliance Director Frédérique Dutheillet de Lamothe. Here is what she said. Andrew Chalk: Who are the experts on the tasting panel? Frédérique Dutheillet de Lamothe: They are professional tasters from the wine busi - ness, mainly oenologists. During the independent judging, on average how many wines are tasted each year and about what pro- portion fails to qualify? A jury composed of six professionals tastes 36 samples per tasting session. These ses- sions are staggered over a dozen dates between early March and July. Nearly 350 eligible châteaux, on average, are likely to present their wine to be tasted at the Official Selection of the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc. To do this, these châteaux file a sampling request through the independent organization which also manages the regis - tration for the different tasting sessions. Suppose I am a grower/winemaker in the Médoc and have never applied to be a member of CB. If I start the application process today, how long will it take before I hear the result of my application (membership or rejection)? Currently, the Cru Bourgeois classification is a yearly selection process for every châ - teau. Every year, every château wishing to be part of the upcoming Official Selection must reapply. Once the estate has sent an application form (before September 30, 2014 for the 2013 vintage, for instance), an independent body will come to inspect the premises of the château to ensure it has the capacity to produce a Cru Bourgeois– quality wine. This is called an eligibility visit. Between March and July (March to July 2015 for the 2013 vintage), when its final blend is ready to be tasted, the château submits the candidate vintage for a blind tasting. Six professional experts score the wine; an independent body is present to guarantee the conditions of the blind tast - ing. The average of the six scores is then compared to the vintage's benchmark, which is established in January by a techni - cal commission on a blind basis as well. If the score of the applicant's wine is above the benchmark, the candidate is granted the Cru Bourgeois mention for that vintage and receives authentication stickers to be affixed on each bottle of this wine. What do the inspectors look for at a vineyard/winery on the initial premises visit? The inspectors verify a number of technical elements during their visits, notably the châ - teau's ability to guarantee traceability from the vineyard to the bottle. The candidate château must also be accessible for visits, provide a tasting space and have capacity to produce a quality wine by itself. Once membership is approved, is it subject to annual renewal? Yes; the quality of each vintage is controlled during a blind tasting. Do you think CB wines should be designated as such on wine lists by somms? Yes, of course, firstly because the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc are part of an official classification of Bordeaux wines, but also because it is a badge of quality that can be useful to consumers in making their wine purchasing decision. It is also interesting for clients of restaurants to make the link with the CB logo they might recognize on bottles in their local wine stores. The QR code on the authentication sticker may also be of use to the sommeliers, because it allows them easy and immediate access to the château's technical information on the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc website. Should your logo not incorporate a means of contacting the organi - zation (e.g. a URL) to facilitate consum- ers finding out about the organization? Every bottle features a Cru Bourgeois sticker with a QR code that can be read by any smartphone application, which links directly to the château's web page on the Cru Bourgeois website. The URL for the main Cru Bourgeois website is also included on every sticker. What criteria do the expert tast - ing panel use to choose the "rep- resentative" wine? The expert tasting panel designates 16 wines which are considered the represen - tative benchmark of Cru Bourgeois for that vintage. The wines constituting the bench- mark must therefore be representative of their specific terroirs and appellations, as well as the quality level of the vintage which is being considered. Cru Bourgeois candidate wines for a given vintage are then tasted and evaluated based on the panel of benchmark wines. What criteria do the expert tasting panel use to rate sub - mitted wines? The expert tasting panel use the universal tasting method to judge a wine—analysis of the wine's color, aroma and taste—but they also look for balance, structure and major flaws. It is clearly the quality level that is judged during the blind tasting and not typicity, since our members wines are pro - duced in eight different AOPs with different characteristic. Why not introduce CB Supérieur and CB Exceptionnel again? It is true that in past decades, and even in the last two centuries, there was a hierar - chy among the Cru Bourgeois du Médoc family. We might reintroduce a hierarchy when our members are ready to start on this new path, and also when we find a sat - isfactory way to adapt the current system, which has proven to be successful. White wine? Crus Bourgeois du Médoc are only red wines produced from one of the eight appellations of the Médoc area. This has historically always been the case. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALLIANCE DES CRUS BOURGEOIS DU MÉDOC FROM THE DIRECTOR Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q:

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