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Bordeaux Classification

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

in the Bordeaux There are six systems for the classification of wines. Whether the wines or the Châteaux or the producers are valued, varies. The most famous classification dates from 1855 with different systems for the reds and the white wines. In this more than one and a half century old classification, there has been only one change to date. It still has a great importance and is therefore by the wineries marketing also with appropriate leadership of the rank label used. The classification clearly refers to the wineries, independent and also unaffected by the different from year to year quality the wines. For the other Bordeaux areas (which were largely not considered in 1855) special classifications were introduced much later. These are in contrast to the 1855 classification periodically and refer to vintages or wines:

  • Médoc (Red wines) with five levels - 1855
  • Cru Bourgeois (Médoc) with one level - from the 1920s, recognized by EC 1976
  • Cru Artisan (Médoc) with one level - from 1989, recognized by EU in 1994
  • Sauterne and Barsac (White Wines) with three levels - 1855
  • Graves with one step - first in 1953
  • Saint-Emilion with three stages - first in 1955

Bordeaux classification - systems or logos

Cru Bourgeois and Cru Artisan rank behind the five-tier Grands Crus from the Medoc. For the area Graves was first created in 1953 and supplemented in the years 1959 and 1960, a separate classification. For the area Saint-Emilion was first introduced in 1955 a separate system and has since been updated several times. At Graves and Saint-Émilion, there are more or less regular updates or changes to the classification. In the fields of Fronsac and Pomerol there is an exception in the Bordeaux no cru classes or classification systems.

However, the quality levels or cru grades of the six Bordeaux systems are different in designation and also in the number of stages, which is compared to the uniform applicable to all appellations Burgundy classification is quite confusing. There have been repeated attempts to standardize these different systems. One came from Alexis Lichine (1913-1989), which was ultimately not realized.

The classification of 1855

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 Libourne Chamber of Commerce (Gironde) to prepare "a complete list of classified Bordeaux reds as well as our great white wines" in preparation for this event. The Chamber of Commerce was unable to agree on a rating system because of diverging interests 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 had only little time available, but still managed a list within a short time. This was not based on tastings, but took into account primarily the retail 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 then acquis. Summa sumarum presents the classification as a long-term view, so that individual fluctuations such as single bad vintages or poorer qualities due to changes in ownership have only negligible 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 to be "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.

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 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.

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 allow 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.

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