logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
European Travel
Action Movies
Bible Basics
Houseplants
Romance Movies
Creativity
Family Travel


dailyclick
All times in EST

Full Schedule
g
g Wine Site

BellaOnline's Wine Editor

g

The Bordeaux Classification


It is surprising that a 150 year old list of wines produced for a long forgotten exhibition should be of any interest today. But you cannot talk about Bordeaux wines for long before there is a reference to the 1855 Classification.

During a century and a half of development, wars, diseases, changes of ownership and replanting, the 1855 classification has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wines that were classified mention it proudly on their label and their prices reflect their position on that long ago list.

In 1855 Paris was to host a Universal Exposition and among the exhibits would be the best of France’s wines. But in those days of difficult travel and poor communications how would international visitors know which wines had merit? Emperor Napoleon III asked the Bordeaux wine merchants to draw up a list which rated the best wines. The merchants knew the wines and they knew the prices they would fetch.

They produced a list of red wines from the Medoc north of Bordeaux and a list of sweet wines from the Sauternes region south of the city.
They rated 61 red wines in order of merit grouped in five bands, known as Cru’s in French and Growths in English. In the first, or Premier Cru were four Château’s, as Bordeaux wineries are known:

Château Lafite, Pauillac
Château Latour, Pauillac
Château Margaux, Margaux
Haut-Brion, Graves

Haut-Brion wasn’t actually in the Medoc, it is located just south (and is now surrounded by Bordeaux’s suburbs) but it had been a famous wine for more than two hundred years before the list, even mentioned by Samual Pepys in his diaries of 1663.

27 Sauternes wineries were rated in three bands, with just one—Ch Yquem—at the top as Premier Cru Supérieur.

Over time properties on the 1855 list have changed their names, usually by hyphenating the owners name to it, or have split into two or vanished having been subsumed into their neighbours, but prices today generally reflect the position in the 1855 classification.

While there has been much talk about adjusting the position of some winery’s banding only one change has been made. The highest Medoc wine in the second category, Ch Mouton-Rothschild, was elevated by Presidential decree in 1973 to the first band.

Because production of these wineries is limited by the size of their properties, and because their wines are long lasting they have been the choice of investors. Prices have been moving upwards at an alarming rate, thanks in part to interest from Asia and China. In 1973 a botte of Ch Lafite cost around five times the cost of the cheapest red Bordeaux. Now it is ratio is more than 150 times. The price paid by a wholesaler for Ch Mouton-Rothschild in 1982 was 26 EUR, in 2009 is was 450 EUR and the 2010 vintage will cost twice.

The full 1855 classifications may be seen here

Ask questions and talk about wine on our forum.




Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle and Apple iPad.





Disclosure: Peter F May travelled to Bordeaux at his own expense and paid full price for all his accommodation, meals, tastings and wines.
Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Twitter Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Facebook Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to MySpace Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Del.icio.us Digg The+Bordeaux+Classification Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Yahoo My Web Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Google Bookmarks Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Stumbleupon Add The+Bordeaux+Classification to Reddit




The Wines of Bordeaux
Bordeaux Wine Futures
Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes
RSS
Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Wine Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2014 by Peter F May. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Peter F May. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Peter F May for details.

g


g features
Dial M for Merlot - Book Review

The Man Who Created Baco Noir and Baco Blanc

Henry of Pelham, Niagara, Canada

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2014 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor