Why We are Drinking Now: A Médoc Beauty

A bounty of wine treasures, the Médoc and Haut Médoc represent some of the best in Bordeaux wines. One could say they represent the best in French wines, the best in global wine. We examine what’s behind the label and discover why we are drinking Médoc now.

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Château de Retout, Photo Credit: Cru Bourgeois

The photo above is of Château de Retout, the estate that produced the bottle of wine that sits next to my computer. I bought this wine from a local merchant and brought it home. When I got home I did some research, looked it up online. This is nothing new, I do it all the time. But this was a unique search session because this bottle is something called a Cru Bourgeois. The label provided me with some valuable information summarized in the form of an alpha-numeric identifier that allowed me to look up the estate and the wine, verification that what I have here on my desk is indeed made by a particular set of producers.

What does Cru Bourgeois mean?

According to Bordeaux Wines: “This classification, first established in 1932, recognizes the quality and value of red wines produced in the eight appellations of the Médoc region. This classification is subject to revisions.

The use of the term “Cru Bourgeois” dates back to the period during which Bordeaux’s prosperous bourgeois class acquired the Médoc’s best land parcels. These were therefore subsequently referred to as “Cru Bourgeois.”

Over 250 estates, most of which family-owned and operated, currently belong to the Crus Bourgeois Alliance and represent over 40% of the Médoc’s total production.”

And Cru Bourgeois defines it’s group of member estates: “The Crus Bourgeois form a big family that brings together vineyards with widely differing profiles, and very different terroirs (eight prestigious AOCs : Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis en Médoc, Margaux, Saint Julien, Pauillac and Saint Estèphe), led by a variety of producers, many of whom have their origins in the Médoc, but who also come from other countries and regions, bringing dynamism and new ideas.

Chat de Retout

Château de Retout

My bottle, what a beauty, appears above. Note the red arrow indicating the Cru Bourgeois identifier. Here’s where things get fun, because I have a bit of history, a taste-it-touch-it story. I’m pleased, of course, that I have a quality bottle of wine here, but I’m more excited that I’m one step closer to knowing more about my wine, the wine I’ll share with my husband, the wine we’ll cook for, the wine I’ve chosen to write about.

Through the Cru Bourgeois designation, I’ve learned about Château de Retout. My wine came from 30-year old vines situated near the village of Cussac-Fort-Medoc. I was directed to the estate’s website where I uncovered some history. The vines were, like many neighbors, hit by phylloxera in the late 19th century. While this would have been trouble enough, WWI brought further damage and instability. The vineyards lay unused and overgrown until the 1950s when the Kopp family bought them and applied patience to the replanting process. Today it remains family-owned, cared for by the Kopps who grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot on 34 hectares of vines.

The estate’s philosophy on sustainability: “Grass is left to grow between the vine rows and weeding underneath the vines is alternately mechanical and chemical. 100% natural fertilisers (horse manure and compost), certifiably organic crop protection products, and sustainable vineyard treatments are all part of this winegrowing philosophy.”

The estate does all their own bottling and employs cellars that have been rebuilt and updated over the past century. In fact, the past 15 years have been integral, with the building of a second cellar in 2003 and inclusion into Cru Bourgeois in 2009.

I learned that my bottle, a 2012, was harvested on October 5th, a late and swift harvest. What was I doing on that day? It was two days after my birthday. I had a new baby, born earlier that year, and a two year old. Do I remember that day? Not exactly, but I recall the essence of it. And I have the essence of my wine’s story, the story of Hélène and Fréderic Soual (Kopp family members) working through their harvest that day…hands and machines carefully gathering the grapes that would make my wine, a wine that would sit on my table on July 15, 2016.

chat du retout 2
The sights of Château de Retout
Why we are drinking now

Why are we drinking this bottle now? How did it become the feature of this story? It did have a shelf-talker (88 points from Wine Enthusiast). It was imported by Monsieur Touton  and distributed to my midwestern wine shop. I did pay the $20 to bring it home. But why? Why this bottle?

I know it’s because of the story, because I was meant to get to know this estate, this wine, this region and the Cru Bourgeois system. It’s because I was meant to be inspired, to share the details, to make this wine real for many more people. It’s because this wine was meant to be loved, to be treasured, to transfer from one family to the next.

That is my why.

CarteUltraSimp2012_UK

The French Winophiles

Excuse us, while we drink and write and eat… each month we feature a winegrowing area of France and take a mini trip there. We travel via bottles, via glasses, via ingredients and especially via words. Here’s the itinerary this month, should you choose to join us:

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares Diving Into Bordeaux Wine with Winophiles: Medoc 

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla brings us To the Médoc with Herbed Lamb Chops

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm presents The Ozarks meet Haut Medoc??

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva goes for Banking on Bordeaux

Jeff from Food Wine Click offers us Left Bank and Lentils

Here on L’occasion, my husband and I will share Why We are Drinking Now: A Médoc Beauty

INTERESTED IN A TRIP? PUT 10 AM CDT ON YOUR CALENDAR AND POP INTO TWITTER. HUNT DOWN THE HASHTAG #WINOPHILES. SHARE, ASK, ENJOY.

We aren’t done in Bordeaux…coming up next: August 20th – St. Emilion/St. Emilion Satellites and September 17th – Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers.

 

 

Oui In France

 

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18 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you so much Jill for hosting such a great event this month!

    The story and research behind your wine makes me want to search this bottle out and try it! I love your connection to the date the wine was harvested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      My pleasure! Thanks for your comment & I hope you do search this bottle… and then find your own! Cheers!

      Like

  2. A lovely story! Thanks Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed reading the journey of this wine and how it came to your table!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vino Travels says:

    Nice to learn that’s what cry bourgeois means. French wine confuses me ; )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Not bad work doing the research! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  5. Jill, what a nice write-up on Cru-Bourgeois! We often look for the designation to tell us “high quality, good value” Bordeaux

    Liked by 2 people

  6. pedmar10 says:

    yes indeed always try to be imitated but never quite the same as the general “Bordeaux” which covers a vast area and nothing to do with the city of same name. You should try to get your merchant to find you the bible on it Bordeaux et ses vins editions Feret; available in the USA too;cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks so much for hosting and for such an interesting and informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this one. I can see you clicking and tapping and examining the bottle intently. You took me to the shop, the trip, the desk and I felt like I was sitting next to my friend ready to cheers. That is beauty too my dear, just like your bottle of beauty.

    Like

  9. Diane Oui In France says:

    Excellent info, looks like a great bottle! I was happy to see it was still unopened when you showed us the pics. I learned my lesson about open bottles next to my computer a few years ago. After a few glasses, it’s a very risky situation! Thank you for linking up! #allaboutfrance

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jill Barth says:

      Ha! WordPress does make it easy to hit “publish”! Thanks for hosting #allaboutfrance this month… lots of excellent reading. Cheers!

      Like

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