Cru Bourgeois ‘Well Distributed’ in Hong Kong: De Lamothe

Bordeaux’s Cru Bourgeois wines, which rank just below the vineyards of the 1855 classification and retail at about $25 a bottle, are seeing demand in Hong Kong as China’s taste for wine broadens beyond trophy labels.

“The Crus Bourgeois du Medoc are already well distributed in Hong Kong,” Frederique de Lamothe, director of the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc, said in Bordeaux after returning from Asia. “About 50 percent of the Crus Bourgeois,” or wines from some 130 vineyards, are on sale in Hong Kong stores, she said. “You can find in any wine shop one or two or three” of the 267 vintners represented.

Her comments, in a Nov. 14 interview, came as the broader fine wine market showed signs of revival even as top Bordeaux continued to decline. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index, tracking Burgundy, Rhone and Italy as well as Bordeaux, rose for three straight months from August, while the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50, measuring Bordeaux first growths, has dropped since September.

The Crus Bourgeois du Medoc produced the equivalent of 29 million bottles in the 2012 vintage, about 30 percent of the production of the Medoc region north of the city, according to figures from the Alliance.

“The last five years have been more like a renewal for the Crus Bourgeois du Medoc,” de Lamothe said. “I know the market is very hard for the Grands Crus Classes” top growths, but for Crus Bourgois in the past three years “it’s going pretty well.”

‘Dynamic Markets’

The Crus Bourgeois du Medoc comprise 111 producers in the Medoc appellation, 92 in Haut-Medoc, 21 in Saint-Estephe, 15 in Moulis, 14 in Listrac-Medoc, nine in Margaux and five in Pauillac. They cover 4,100 hectares (10,100 acres) across the region, accounting for 26 percent of the vineyard area.

While the Cru Bourgeois designation dates back to the 15th century, it was overhauled with stricter classification rules taking effect from the 2008 vintage.

“Those are very dynamic markets,” Allan Sichel, managing director of wine merchant Maison Sichel, said in an interview. “That really is where Bordeaux offers the best price-quality ratio.”