Cru Bourgeois reborn

It is a sad fact of wine life that many consumers find French wine terms confusing. Often it is not the fact that they are in French, as much as they are confusing concepts to translate. Cru Classé, Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classé, Premier Cru, Premier Grand Cru Classé all have a meaning that gets somewhat lost in translation. What is more, the same word or phrase can mean subtly different things in various regions of France.

I often tell my students not to go looking for logic in French wine terminology, as that way madness lies.

I really think it is best not to translate them and just to accept them as they are. Strangely I was taught that Cru means ‘growth’, which always struck me as odd and not an easy word to sell to the consumer. Happily, I have researched it myself and discovered that one of its meanings is ‘vineyard’, which is altogether more satisfying and simple to understand.

Replace Cru with vineyard, as well as translating classé and you have; Classified Vineyard, Great Vineyard, Classified Great Vineyard, Premier Vineyard and Premier Classified Vineyard. Which nearly make sense, anyone can tell that these words on a wine label imply that the bottle contains something that is highly regarded by someone. Continue reading

Affordable Claret: Chateau du Gazin

I really am in a claret phase and it is very interesting tasting some affordable wines from Bordeaux. I have always liked the idea of claret, but have become concerned that most consumers would never get a chance to taste the sort of wine that comes into my mind when I think claret.

This is my third claret in this series and I think the consumer is pretty well served by them so far, but of course they are far more expensive than the average spend – even these relatively moderate prices make them more likely to be wines enjoyed at a special occasion than every day.

So far I have stuck to the left-bank Médoc wines, so I felt that a change was in order and I turned my attentions to the Libournais area. This of course includes the famous St Emilion, and its satellite villages, as well as Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol and the rather more spread out Côtes de Castillon, Côtes des Francs as well as Bourg and Blaye. Today my eye fell on a wine from Canon-Fronsac. Continue reading

Affordable Claret: Château Tour St Bonnet 2006

Every now and then I get a craving for Claret. Sometimes I can stave it off with a good bottle of something similar, but different – a good Cabernet, Rioja or Chianti, or something slightly odd perhaps. That can only work for so long though, then I have to drink a bottle of claret. The trouble is, nowadays that means money.

So, I was thinking what sort of wine do consumers actually get for the moderately priced Clarets that adorn the supermarket shelves? It is a long time since I tried any, so I decided to set that right.

In a branch of Morrisons I came across a real blast from my past: Château Tour St Bonnet. I used to sell this wine over 20 years ago and it had always proved popular, indeed had been a bit of a star, but that was the 1985 vintage.

In those days it always represented stunning value for money and gave a real bottle of Château bottled Claret for not much more than a basic branded Bordeaux – that is still true. Continue reading