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Bordeaux Classification

Bordeaux classification (GB)
Bordeaux classification (F)
Burdeos clasificación (ES)
Bordeaux classificatie (N)

Classifications of wineries ( Châteaux ) or crying in the Bordeaux took place already in the 18th century. Today there are five systems; the most famous dates from 1855. However, only wines from the left bank ( Rive gauche ) the Gironde considered, these include the areas Médoc. Graves and Sauterne, Of course, but also grow on the right bank ( Rive droite ) such. B. Fronsac. Pomerol and Saint-Emilion excellent wines. The more than one and a half centuries old classification applies regardless of the different from year to year quality the wines. So far there was as an absolute exception only a single change, in which the Château Mouton-Rothschild rose from second to first place. It still has great importance and is therefore marketed by wineries marketing the rank on the label used.

Bordeaux classification - systems or logos

The current remaining four systems for other Bordeaux areas (which, as mentioned, 1855 were not considered) were introduced much later. The cru classes are different in designation and in the number of quality levels, which is opposite to the standard and applicable to all appellations Burgundy classification is quite confusing. There have been repeated attempts at unification. A suggestion came from Alexis Lichine (1913-1989), which was ultimately not realized.

  • Médoc for red wines with five levels - 1855
  • Sauterne and Barsac for white wines with three levels - 1855
  • Cru Bourgeois (Médoc) with one level - from the 1920s, recognized by the EC in 1976
  • Cru Artisan (Médoc) with one level - 1989, recognized by EU in 1994
  • Graves for red and white wines with one step - 1953 and 1959 respectively
  • Saint-Emilion with two steps - 1955

The single-tier systems Cru Bourgeois and Cru Artisan are not classified as Grands Crus wineries from the Médoc and rank behind the Grands Crus of 1855. The classification, which has been changed several times, is repeated periodically (see below). For Graves was created in 1953 and supplemented in 1959 a one-step classification, which distinguishes red and white wines (all wineries are in the range Pessac-Léognan ). For Saint-Emilion In 1955 a two-stage system was introduced, the classification is tied to the vineyards. It is checked periodically, with the wineries have to advertise. In the fields of Fronsac and Pomerol there is no classification as an exception in Bordeaux.

The association UGCB (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) represents the most important Bordeaux growing areas, represents the interests of independent winegrowers and acts as a marketing platform for international customers in particular. In addition to the UGCB, there are other regional associations with similar objectives, namely the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, the Classement des Vins de Graves and the Classements des Vins de Saint-Émilion.

The classification of 1855

Emperor Napoleon III From 15 May to 15 November 1855 took place under the aegis of Napoleon III. (1808-1873) the World's Fair held in Paris. The main exhibition site was temporarily built between Champs-Elysées and the Seine. The Monarch commissioned the Chamber of Commerce of Bordeaux (Gironde) to prepare "a complete list of classified Bordeaux reds as well as our great white wines" in preparation for this event. The wines of the right Dordogne -Hoats were not taken into account, because these appellations of the Chamber of Commerce of Libourne were under. The reputation of these wines such. B. Pomerol but unfolded later anyway.

The Chamber of Commerce was unable to agree on a rating system and delegated responsibility to the "Syndicat des courtiers de commerce de Bordeaux" (Association of Wine Brokers). A classification for wines was nothing fundamentally new, because similar rank orders exist unofficially for a long time. There are a total of over 25 different systems known before the year 1855.

The brokers were under enormous pressure and had only little time available, but still managed a list within a short time. This was not based on current tastings, but took into account primarily the sales prices of the last hundred years. This criterion simply said that the most expensive wines are also the best. However, rankings were also included in the decision, the Alexander Henderson (1780-1863), the later US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Cyrus Redding (1785-1870). In addition, the brokers still considered the reputation of the houses and the former acquis. The classification represented a long-term view, so that individual fluctuations like single bad ones vintages or worse qualities due to change of ownership only insignificant weight.

Red wines 1855 (Médoc and a Graves wine)

On April 18, 1855, the brokerage association announced its lineup of the best wines. It was emphasized that the classification was by no means a snapshot, but understood as "the result of more than one hundred years of development". The result was two lists, one with red wines and one with white wines. A total of 61 châteaux have been added to the red wine list (however, this number refers to the current status). It should be for all red wines Gironde However, only wines from Médoc and one from Graves were included. These were grouped from "Premiers Crus" to "Cinquièmes Crus" into five classes. A recurring question is whether there is a ranking or hierarchy within the five groups. In this respect, the brokers behaved very contradictory in the valuation phase.

Bordeaux Classification 1855 - the labels of the 5 Premier Cru Classé

In a letter dated 16 September 1855 to the Chamber of Commerce, they noted that there was no superiority or qualitative ranking within a single stage: Wines of the same classification should be considered equal. But a month earlier they had claimed the opposite. Against the "equality" also speaks that in the original list, the wines were not sorted alphabetically or by municipalities. In addition, the Château Mouton-Rothschild explicitly the first place in the Deuxième Crus was assigned as a kind of "consolation". So the committee was probably very well within the groups, but they did not want to admit that officially so as not to upset anyone and prevent protests.

It is worth noting that compared to z. B. the classification in Saint-Emilion Changes in the vineyards have no effect on the rank. The only requirement is that the areas must be within the appellation. What counts here is the reputation of the winery and not the quality of the location. The name of the winery is as it were as a constant quality feature and trademark. See the list or the order of the under Médoc where the châteaux are listed with the place numbers ex the original list.

Bordeaux classification - facsimile of the original documents

White wines 1855 (Sauternes and Barsac)

Twenty-four Châteaux from Barsac and Sauternes have been grouped into the two classes "Premiers Crus" and "Deuxièmes Crus". Finally, however, the special class "Premieur Cru Classé Supérieur" was awarded for one of them, that was it Château d'Yquem, The winery was and is thus even one level higher than the first class of red wines. By division of ownership there are today 27 Châteaux. See in detail under Sauterne,

Cru bourgeois

This name originated in the 1920s. In addition to the Cru Classé was created under these "aristocratic" wineries, so to speak, a "bourgeois class". The wines must come from one of the eight Médoc appellations Haut-Médoc. Listrac-Médoc. Margaux. Médoc. Moulis. Pauillac. Saint-Estèphe or Saint-Julien come. Further criteria include no barrel sale, bottling, sale only in the second year following the harvest and regular quality checks based on random samples. From 1930 to 1932, an expert commission classified 444 wineries. The "Federation of Crus Bourgeois" was founded in 1962, at that time half of these wineries no longer existed. In 1976, Cru Bourgeois was also recognized by the EU.

In 1978 there was a second and finally in 2003 the most recent classification. A total of 490 Châteaux competed, of which only 247 were classified. The classification was based on wines produced from 1994 to 1999. The Châteaux were classified in the three stages Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel (9), Cru Bourgeois Supérieur (87) and Cru Bourgeois (151). The always classified since the year 1932 Château Sociando-Mallet was not considered at his own request. These were among others (E = exceptionnel):

After the publication of the 2003 classification, there was a challenge. A total of 78 unaccounted for and, in their view, bypassed, Châteaux sued the Bordeaux Administrative Court in 2004, alleging serious procedural errors. Among other things, classified vintners should have evaluated themselves and wineries were not even visited in the course of the evaluation. The Appeals Tribunal of the Administrative Court then overturned the new ranking in February 2007. The further procedure was still unclear. The reaction of the "Alliance des Crus Bourgeois" founded in 2003 as a legal representative of the member companies was awaited. There was even the opinion that even the classification of the year 1978 should be regarded as obsolete and that the first classification from 1932 should be regarded as the only valid one.

In 2009, a final decision was finally made and a reorganization was introduced. The new classification no longer refers to the Château (winery), but to the respective one vintage of the wine. The two categories "Cru Bourgeois Superieur" and "Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel" were eliminated without substitution. Now, each year, a classification has to be applied for, the only requirement being a minimum size of 7 hectares in Médoc and Haut-Medoc, or 4.5 hectares in the six commune appellations. The wines of the Châteaux are tasted by an independent body. For the 2013 vintage, this was done in September 2015, with 251 châteaux and wines classified.

Cru Artisan and Cru Paysan

These two names were already used by wine merchants in the 19th century. They are described in 1868 in the English professor Charles Cocks written by Michel-Édouard Féret translated "Bordeaux Bible". These small estates often belong to farmers (paysans) or artisans (artisans) who operated vineyards on a small scale. In the 1930s, however, the names were forgotten. Cru Paysan no longer plays a role, but on the initiative of small wineries, the class "Cru Artisan" was applied for in 1989, in order to grant greater scope in terms of cru-bourgeois provisions. The basic requirement is that the owner must be a real person who personally looks after vineyards, cellars and sales. They must be small estates (less than five hectares) that produce wines with one of the eight designations of origin of the Médoc. Cru Artisan was then recognized by the European Union in 1994; the name may be stated on the main label.

Additional information

See a list of different classification systems under the keyword Grand Cru, The EU-wide classification system is under the keyword quality system described.

Sources: WIKIPEDIA and wine (André Dominé)
Facsimile Bordeaux classification: Antique wine

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