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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for March 3, 2000


Winery of the Week

A Medoc Moment


"Crus Bourgeois wines of the Haut-Medoc offer some of the best values to be found in Bordeaux."

...2nd Edition, Oxford Companion to Wine, J. Robinson

Port of Bordeaux

Port of Bordeaux, 1805
(given to the author during a visit)

The Rest of the Story

Crus Bourgeois? Haut-Medoc? Let's go back and find their origins.

1500—"Wild and lonely"...not a single road... a swampy peninsula stretching north of Bordeaux. The odds against it becoming the world's greatest red wine district in 300 years are a million to one. (The Romans cultivated oysters in the Medoc.)

1599—King Henri IV hired the Dutch to drain the marshland of France. One Conrad Gaussen drained the Medoc marshes.

1650—The lower levels of the Medoc became meadows, the slopes became wheatfields and the upper levels, vineyards.

1855—"Cru" is French for "growth." It implies high quality. In 1855 the top 62 Bordeaux producers were classified. At the top were five "Grand Crus"; four of the five were in the MEDOC!

1930—The 1855 classification covered less than 1% of Bordeaux properities...the leading exiles became known as Crus Bourgeois, and began to promote their wines.

1977—Bourgeois classification totaled 122 producers including 40 Grands Bourgeois.

1985—Grand Bourgeois Chateau La Cardonne was acquired by the distinguished Rothschild family in 1973. They made substantial investments in expanding the vineyards and cellars. (R. Parker, Jr.)

It is our...

Winery of the Week

Chateau La Cardonne ("chateau" means "estate"), 1995
Owners—S.N.C. Domaines C.G.R. bought the estate and Mr. Parker says they have further improved the wines.
Their Address—40, rue Notre Dame des Victoires, Paris
Your U.S.A. Contact—Angela Freire, (800) 709-7667, FAX (707) 255-1119
U.S.A. Importer—Seagram
Vineyard Composition—50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
Price—$16 range


Medoc—The Medoc is an eighty-mile-long peninsula about 15 miles wide between the Gironde River and the Atlantic Ocean. The name comes from a consolidation-alteration of the Latin words medio aqua, in the "middle of the water." It is located just north of the city of Bordeaux. Haut Medoc (oh meh-doc)—As you drive north from the city the first (southernmost) part of the peninsula is called the Haut Medoc, and in general, produced better red wines than the northern area.

Alexis Lichine's Wine Encylopedia
Robert Parker, Jr.'s Bordeaux

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created March 2000