Bordeaux First Growths: A True Trophy Wine For Wine Collectors

There is probably no more prestigious wine region in the world than Bordeaux.  The wines of Bordeaux have been considered among France’s best for hundreds of years.

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In 1855, the Exposition Universelle (a sort of World’s Fair of its Day) was held in Paris to showcase all that was good in France.  Emperor Napoleon III requested the leading Bordeaux merchants to rank the best wines into five categories.  The merchants, reluctantly, created the 1855 Classification which divides the red wines into five groups or classified growths.  This classification was based on market price which provided a good approximation of quality.

In all, 58 properties were classified in the five levels.  All of the wines were from the left bank and all but one from the communes forming the Medoc.  There were no wines from the right bank at that time, the right bank was considered inferior for wine production.  Compared to the region today, the properties were from a limited area of Bordeaux.

The top classification is known as a Premier Cru or First Growths.  Four wines achieved this lofty designation.

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The Medoc Chateaux receiving First Growth status were Lafite, Margaux, and Latour.

A lone non-Medoc wine, Haut Brion, received First Growth status based on its reputation which, even at that time, dated back several hundred years.

Although the 1855 Classification was never intended to be permanent, it remains in use today with only a few modifications.