Last month we talked about the revived (and strange) Cru Bourgeois classification-but-not-classification in Bordeaux. This month it’s time for the no-one-knows-it-exists classification Cru Artisans. Cru Artisans exists since some 150 years back but during the latter half of the 20th century it fell out of use (or perhaps even earlier) and became virtually unknown. In theory it was chateaux that were perhaps not noble enough or big enough to claim Cru Bourgeois status. After having disappeared last century it was actually recreated in 2006 thanks to a government ruling. But its existence seems to be a well guarded secret – there are not many people who know about it (it’s not even in the Wikipedia!). Only 44 chateaux were classified in 2006. In principle it should be revised every ten years so a new version is due in 2016 or 2017.
However, the Chambre d’Agriculture has decided to open it for new applications this year and by next summer the new additions to Crus Artisans will be announced. (If we understand it correctly it is not a revision, so no one needs to fear exclusion. At this time.) Those that are included in the the classification (version 2011) will have the right to use the label Cru Artisan for vintages back to 2001… All we can say is “oh well”, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.
So now we have in Médoc / Bordeaux a classification that is virtually unknown, created in 2006, or perhaps 2011 (Cru Artisans), or in the 19th century; a classification that is not a classification at all and that some observers think will not last long in its current form (Cru Bourgeois de Medoc – see last month’s Brief); and a classification that is 150 years old where today’s vineyard plots have no resemblance to the plots that existed when the classification was done, which on the other hand has no relevance since it is the chateau buildings and not the vineyards that are classified (Grand Crus Classé de Bordeaux). Read more on www.lejournalduvin.com and www.bordeaux.com