Bordeaux - 1855 Wine Classification

As everyone knows Brixton loves his red wine. His favourite area has to be the wines of Bordeaux, and why not, they have a fascinating history. In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France’s best Bordeaux wines for the Paris Exposition. Brokers from the region ranked the wines taking into account the chateau’s reputation and prices.

The top wines (out of over 3000 estates) were ranked from first to fifth growths. All of the wines were on the left bank of the Gironde and the wineries on the right bank were ignored even though regions of Pomerol (home of Chateau Petrus) and St Emilion (home of Chateaus Ausone and Cheval Blanc) produce world class wines.

Originally there were only four First Growths, Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour from the Pauillac region, Chateau Margaux from the Margaux region and Chateau Haut-Brion from the Graves region. The only significant change to the 1855 classification occurred in 1973 when Chateau Mouton Rothschild from Pauillac was promoted from a Super Second Growth to a first growth.

There are 15 Second Growths, 14 Third Growths, 10 Fourth Growths and 18 Fifth Growths.

Bordeaux wines use a blend of five different grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot with Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot being the predominant grapes used in the blend (although on the right bank Merlot is generally the predominant grape).

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