Bordeaux Classifications

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Almost as long as people have been drinking wine, people have been classifying it. Some 2000 years ago, Romans wrote about their wines, and in the middle ages there were various systems of classification. More recently, the Classifications of Bordeaux and the Burgundy Grands Crus hold a great deal of prestige and influence. In Bordeaux, the most famous classification is the one from 1855 for the Médoc (with Haut-Brion from Graves), Sauternes, and Barsac. Graves established its own classification in 1959, and St-Emilion updates its list every 10 or so years. For a complete, regularly updated list of all French AOCs, click here.

The 1855 Classification, Reviewed in 1973

For the 1855 Exposition Universelle, Napoleon III asked the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce to rank Bordeaux’s top wines into five classes. The Chamber of Commerce went to Bordeaux’s wine brokers, who ranked the estates largely by the price of their wines. The result was 61 classed estates, all but one from the Médoc. By appellation, it breaks down to Margaux: 21, Saint-Julien 11, Pauillac 18, Saint-Estèphe 5, Haut-Médoc 5, and Graves (now Pessac-Léognan) 1.

The Bordeaux brokers claimed their findings were based on 100 years of experience and today, more than 150 years later, it is still largely regarded as a reasonable indication of quality. The only revision since 1855 came in 1973 when, after much lobbying by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild moved from Second to First Growth.

First Growths Premiers Crus (Commune)

Château Haut-Brion Pessac (Péssac-Léognan)
Château Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac)
Château Latour (Pauillac)
Château Margaux (Margaux)
Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)

Second Growths Deuxièmes Crus (Commune)

Château Brane-Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Cos d’Estournel (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (Saint-Julien)
Château Durfort-Vivens (Margaux)
Château Gruaud-Larose (Saint-Julien)
Château Lascombes (Margaux)
Château Léoville-Barton (Saint-Julien)
Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien)
Château Léoville-Poyferré (Saint-Julien)
Château Montrose (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse-de-Lalande (Pauillac)
Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron (Pauillac)
Château Rausan-Ségla (Margaux)
Château Rauzan-Gassies (Margaux)

Third Growths Troisièmes Crus (Commune)

Château Boyd-Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Calon-Ségur (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Cantenac-Brown (Margaux)
Château Desmirail (Margaux)
Château d’Issan (Margaux)
Château Ferrière (Margaux)
Château Giscours (Margaux)
Château Kirwan (Margaux)
Château La Lagune (Haut-Médoc)
Château Lagrange (Saint-Julien)
Château Langoa (Saint-Julien)
Château Malescot-Saint-Exupéry (Margaux)
Château Marquis d’Alesme-Becker (Margaux)
Château Palmer (Margaux)

Fourth Growths Quatrièmes Crus (Commune)

Château Beychevelle (Saint-Julien)
Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien)
Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (Pauillac)
Château La Tour-Carnet (Haut Médoc)
Château Lafon-Rochet (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Marquis-de-Terme (Margaux)
Château Pouget (Margaux)
Château Prieuré-Lichine (Margaux)
Château Saint-Pierre (Saint-Julien)
Château Talbot (Saint-Julien)

Fifth Growths Cinquièmes Crus (Commune)

Château Batailley (Pauillac)
Château Belgrave (Haut-Médoc)
Château Camensac (Haut-Médoc)
Château Cantemerle (Haut-Médoc)
Château Clerc-Milon (Pauillac)
Château Cos-Labory (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Croizet-Bages (Pauillac)
Château d’Armailhac (Pauillac)
Château Dauzac (Margaux)
Château du Tertre (Margaux)
Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse (Pauillac)
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac)
Château Haut-Bages-Libéral (Pauillac)
Château Haut-Batailley (Pauillac)
Château Lynch-Bages (Pauillac)
Château Lynch-Moussas (Pauillac)
Château Pédesclaux (Pauillac)
Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac)

The 1855 Crus Classés of Sauternes-Barsac

Along with the above classifications, the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce classified the wines of Sauternes and Barsac. This time into 3 categories: First Great Growth, First Growth, and Second Growth.

First Great Growth

Premier Cru Supérieur

Château d’Yquem

First Growths Premiers Crus

Château Climens

Château Coutet

Château Guiraud

Château La Tour-Blanche

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Château Rabaud-Promis

Château Rayne-Vigneau

Château Rieussec

Château Sigalas-Rabaud

Château Suduiraut

Clos Haut-Peyraguey

Second Growths

Deuxièmes Crus

Château Broustet

Château Caillou

Château d’Arche

Château de Malle

Château Myrat

Château Doisy-Daëne

Château Doisy-Dubroca

Château Doisy-Védrines

Château Filhot

Château Lamothe-Despujols

Château Lamothe-Guignard

Château Nairac

Château Romer

Château Romer du Hayot

Château Suau

The 1959 Crus Classés of Graves

With only Haut Brion figuring in the 1855 classification, Graves needed to develop its own. Although these vineyards predated those of the Médoc by centuries, it still took about 100 years to produce this classification. While the 1855 Classification of the Médoc was only for reds (white médoc is sold as Bordeaux AOC), this classification of Graves classed the châteaux for red, white, or both. The classification was drawn up in 1953 and became official in 1959. There’s hope for an updated classification soon, as there are so many great estates not listed here.

Château BouscautRedWhite
Château CarbonnieuxRedWhite
Château CouhinsWhite
Château Couhins-LurtonWhite
Château FieuzalRed
Château Haut-BaillyRed
Château Haut-BrionRed
Château La Mission Haut-BrionRed
Château La Tour-MartillacRedWhite
Château Latour-Haut-BrionRed
Château Laville-Haut-BrionWhite
Château Malartic LagravièreRedWhite
Château OlivierRedWhite
Château Pape-ClémentRed
Château Smith-Haut-LafitteRed
Domaine de ChevalierRedWhite

The 2006 Classification of Saint-Emilion Grands Crus

The classification of Saint-Emilion is unique because it is regularly reviewed and updated, based on the wines’ quality and prices. It was originally compiled in 1955, and is supposed to be reviewed every 10 years. It was reviewed in 1969, 1985, 1996, and 2006. The December 2006 edition came with a lot of debate and was suspended in March of 2007, but was finally reinstated in November. There are 3 classifications: Premiers Grand Crus Classés A, Premiers Grands Crus Classés B, and Grand Cru Classé. ‘Grand Cru’, without the ‘Classé’ is awarded to a great deal of St Emilion Châteaux.

The wines of Pomerol are not classified, but Château Pétrus is usually grouped with the 5 first growths of 1855, Château Ausone, and Château Cheval Blanc. In 2006, 11 of the 1996 Châteaux lost their Grand Cru Classé status, 6 moved up to it, and 2 moved from Grand Cru to Premier Grand Cru B. The next review should be in 2016.

Premiers Grand Cru Classés AChâteau Ausone
Château Cheval-Blanc
Premiers Grand Cru Classés BChâteau Angelus
Château Beau-Séjour (Bécot)
Château Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château Belair
Château Canon*
Château Figeac
Château La Gaffeliere
Château Magdelaine
Château Pavie*
Château Pavie-Macquin
Château Trolong Mondot
Château Trotte Vieille
Clos Fourtet
Grand Cru ClassésChâteau Balestard la Tonnelle
Château Bellefont-Belcier
Château Bergat
Château Berliquet
Château Cadet-Piola
Château Canon La Gaffeliere
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Chauvin
Château Corbin
Château Corbin-Michotte
Château Dassault
Château Destieux
Château Fleur Cardinale
Château Fonplégade
Château Fonroque
Château Franc-Mayne
Château Grand Corbin
Château Grand Corbin-Despagne
Château Grand Mayne
Château Grand Pontet
Château Haut-Corbin
Château Haut-Sarpe
Château La Clotte
Château La Couspaude
Château La Dominique
Château La Serre
Château La Tour-Figeac
Château Laniote
Château Larcis Ducasse
Château Larmande
Château Laroque
Château Laroze
Château L’Arrosée
Château Le Prieuré
Château Les Grandes Murailles
Château Matras
Château Monbousquet
Château Moulin du Cadet
Château Pavie-Decesse
Château Ripeau
Château Saint-Georges Cote Pavie
Château Soutard
Clos de L’Oratoire
Clos des Jacobins
Clos Saint-Martin
Couvent des Jacobins

Note: Since 1996, Château la Clusière became a part of Château Pavie, and Château Curé-Bon-la-Madeleine became a part of Château Canon.

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