WHAT IS CRU BOURGEOIS?
Bordeaux is the heartland of wine classification. The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux was the first major comprehensive attempt to sort wineries by their location and general quality, as it grouped Bordeaux producers of the time into 1st through 5th crus, or growths. For the most part, these chateaux have maintained their associated crus with little change.
However, the 1855 Classification still only covered a small subsection of all producers in Bordeaux. With the passage of time, the direct relationship between cru status and quality has gotten fuzzier. Indeed, many unclassified chateaux have long made products that surpass wineries with much loftier titles. The concept of Cru Bourgeois started in 1932 to recognize the excellence of some of these unclassified chateaux in the Médoc north of Bordeaux.
While it has gone through many iterations (even being being banned in 2007 before resurfacing in 2010), the current format is as such: individual wines, rather than producers, may be entered for Cru Bourgeois consideration on an annual basis, to be awarded based on the quality of their means of production and final result. There is no tiering if you are approved: either a wine is Cru Bourgeois, or it is not.
Though Cru Bourgeois wines are often given loftier praise than some of their traditional 1855-classified cousins, the price tag on them is almost always more favorable!