The Classification of Bordeaux Wines
A classification of all Bordeaux wines was suggested as early as the 18th century. France was, and still is one of the leading wine producers in the world, with the Bordeaux region specializing in the production of high quality red wine. Any wine produced in the region of Bordeaux is labeled a Bordeaux wine, and with over 8,500 chateaux and producers in the region, the average output for any vintage is around 700 million bottles. Hence, with an overwhelming variety of wineries, chateaux and wines in the making, a classification system for Bordeaux wines was much needed.
Classification Systems for Bordeaux Wine
Currently there are four official classification standards in place for Bordeaux wines, each specific to a certain geographical region. The four classification systems are as follows:
The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855
Only after promptings from Emperor Napoleon III did this standard for evaluating Bordeaux wines come to fruition in the year 1855. A wine classification system was deemed necessary for France’s premier Bordeaux wines, so the most influential brokers and industry figures devised a system to grade the very best wines from the region. The ranking was based on the chateau’s reputation and trading price, which used to be a direct reflection of the wine’s quality. This ranking system for classifying Bordeaux wines is still the benchmark to this day, and is known as the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. View Full List.
The 1955 Official Classification of St. Emilion
In 1955, the wines from the St. Emilion region of Bordeaux, France were officially classified. Unlike the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 that predominantly deals with the Medoc region, the St. Emilion classification deals with the premier wines originating from the St. Emilion area. Initially classified on the 16th of June, 1955, the list is amended around once every ten years. The original list included 12 Premier Grand Crus Classes and 63 Grand Crus Classes, and since the last officially recognized classification in 1996, has grown to 18 Premier Grand Crus Classes and 64 Grand Crus Classes. View Full List.
The Classification of Graves Wine
The 1959 Official Classification of Graves Wine was initially drawn up in 1953, by a jury appointed by Instiute Nacional des Appellations d’Origine. After gaining approval from the Minister of Agriculture in August of that year, the selection was officially released after a few alterations in February 1959. The classification of Graves wine deals with both red and white wines, all originating from Chateaux in the region of Pessac-Leognan.
The Cru Bourgeois Classification
The Cru Bourgeois Classification is another standard for the ranking of fine wines; primarily originating from the Medoc region, it includes a subset of highly rated wines that did not make it to the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The first classification of Cru Bourgeois was declared in 1932, put forward by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Agriculture. Although the initial wine ranking system included 444 wine estates, the list has since been narrowed down to 246 wines as of 2009.
Although numerous benchmarks and ranking systems exist for the classification of Bordeaux Wines, the most commonly used classification – a highly regarded benchmark throughout the fine wine industry – is the Official Classification of 1855, as well as the Classification of St. Emilion.
Following is the full list of classified wines:
Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855
|Premiers Crus First Growths||Deuxiemes Crus
|Quatriemes Crus Fourth Growths||Cinquiemes Crus Fifth Growths|
Haut Brion Mouton Rothschild
Malescot St. Exupery
La Tour Carnet
Prieure Lichine Marquis de Terme
Grand Puy Lacoste
Grand Puy Ducasse
d’Armailhac du Terte
Haut Bages Liberal
Belgrave de Camensac
1955 St. Emilion Classification
|Premiers Grands Crus Classes A||Premiers Grands Crus Classes B||Grands Crus Classes|
Beau Sejour Becot
Canon la Gaffeliere
|Balestard la Tonnelle
Cap de Mourlin
Moulin du Cadet
Clos de l’Oratoire
Clos de Sarpe
Clos des Jacobins
Cote de Baleau
Couvent des Jacobins
Dassault de Ferrand de Pressac
|Faurie de Souchard
La Fleur Morange
Bear in mind that an official classification of all the top wines only exists for the left bank; therefore, the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 only ranks wines from the left bank of Bordeaux. Although there are numerous prominent chateaux based on the right bank of Bordeaux, there is no official classification standard that takes into account all the right bank wines. The 1955 Official Classification of St. Emilion is obviously a standard for wines from the right bank, however, the wines in consideration are exclusively from the St. Emilion region. Currently, there is no official classification system in place that takes into account all right bank wines. Read this article for more information about the regions in Bordeaux.
It must be said that not all wines in the top tier of the aforementioned classifications are suitable for investment purposes. Similarly, there are numerous wines which may have not made the cut into the premier league of classified wines, yet show a lucrative potential for high capital growth. In the investment world of fine wines, intelligent stock selection based on diligent market research and trend analysis is absolutely vital.
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