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This famous wine growing area belongs to the French region Bordeaux; the name means "middle country". It is located northwest of the city of Bordeaux on the triangular peninsula between the confluence of Garonne and Dordogne formed mouth funnel Gironde and the Atlantic Ocean. The approximately 70 kilometers long and 5 to 12 kilometers wide strip dominated by many vineyards landscape is occasionally interrupted by pasture, scrub and polders (floodplain). The area is divided into two regional (Bas-Médoc and Haut-Médoc) and six located within Haut-Medoc municipal appellations with approximately 16,000 hectares of vineyards. Médoc is probably the most famous appellation of Bordeaux and also one of the most important and best red wine regions France and the world.

Map of Bordeaux - Appellations


Viticulture came to this area relatively late. In the 17th century, under the direction of Dutch dam and hydraulic engineering specialists, coastal strains were straightened, swampy ground areas drained and streams regulated. Therefore, the area was called "La Petite Hollande" for a long time. Later, many vineyards were created or small areas acquired and merged into larger estates, including the famous family ségur, Médoc has particularly good conditions for viticulture. These are the mild Kima, the very sparse and deep gravel that exists in many places, which forces the vines to drive their roots into the depths, as well as the good ones water discharge in the ground. Despite the immediate proximity to the Atlantic, the climate is not humid, because the many pine forests are excellent against winds and rain from the west.


Médoc divides into the northern area of Bas-Médoc (mostly confusingly called Médoc because it does not cover the whole area) with 5,600 hectares and the southern Haut-Médoc area with 4,600 hectares (the sizes refer to the two appellations without the six communities listed below). The border runs at Saint-Seurin -de-Cadourne north of the town of Saint-Estèphe. Haut-Médoc begins at the southern community corner of Blanquefort, which is the northern boundary to the area Graves forms. Both areas are also entitled to their own appellation. They differ by quite different soil types, In Haut-Médoc, the wines are rated higher due to the particularly gravelly soil and generally have more race and finesse. The six famous communities Margaux. Moulis. Listrac-Médoc. Pauillac. Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien form within Haut-Médoc own appellations.

The wines from the other communities carry the ancestry "Haut-Médoc", the wines from Bas-Médoc simply "Médoc" or rarely "Bas-Médoc". They are made from the typical grape varieties in the Bordeaux blend produced, being in the skin Médoc rather Cabernet Sauvignon, in the Bas-Médoc rather Merlot dominated. The Rebsortenmix differs but mainly by whether you are on Rive droite (right bank) or Rive gauche (left bank) of Garonne / Dordogne or. Gironde located. The less significant white wines are mostly made Sauvignon Blanc vinified. Typical of the Médoc are the numerous magnificent châteaux, which deserve this name (as "castle") also from an architectural point of view. But this is not a quality feature, because there are also wineries with very simple buildings, where great wines are produced.

Bordeaux Classification

In 1855 was the famous Bordeaux Classification (The cause or the procedure is described in detail in this keyword). From a total of 4,000 châteaux or red wines, only 61 (this is the number from today's perspective, see below) were considered worthy to be added to the list. With the single exception of Château Haut-Brion out of the area Graves are only Châteaux from the Médoc included. The official presentation took place with great pomp on 18 April 1855. The Châteaux were grouped into five classes. Within these five classes, order was made in descending order on the basis of the average price of the wines. This was the top of the list Château Lafite-Rothschild,

Bordeaux Classification 1855 - Facsimile of handwritten original documents

The former ranking is listed in the table below. The class is today rarely included on the bottle label, but often only the text "Grand Cru Classé en 1855" indicated. The lesser-known Deuxièmes, however, often point out their status in order to make a name for themselves. Even Baron Philippe de Rothschild did not take it in 1973, the increase in the first rank with the famous quote "Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change" (First I am, second I was, Mouton does not change ) on the label designed by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). In particular, the Châteaux classified "only" as fourth and fifth crus usually omit this so as not to make their "low" rank too obvious.

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

To this day, surprisingly, there were only two changes to the list published in April 1855. The well-known is the reorganization of the Château Mouton-Rothschild, After decades of struggle by Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988) it was reordered from second to first place. Incidentally, the official document was signed by the then Minister of Agriculture Jacques Chirac (born 1932), the later French president. Furthermore, it was decided that the naming of the now five Premier Crus is not a ranking, but is done by the alphabet. However, with one exception: Château Haut-Brion is the only non-Médoc winery always in last place. The lesser known change is probably the one "forgotten" Château Cantemerle, This good was not included in the list published in April and was added later in December at the end.

Compared to 1855, however, there have been other changes, some of them considerable. Most châteaux have changed in the course of time from the Rebflächenbestockung and the size. There were some significant increases. In contrast to the example for classification in Saint-Emilion The boundaries of Médoc wineries may change without affecting rank. The only requirement is that the areas must be within the appellation. What matters here is the reputation of the winery and not the quality of the location or vineyards. The name of the winery is as it were as a constant quality feature and trademark. However, this continuity is true for most châteaux.

There are sometimes ambiguities about the number of "61 classified châteaux", because in the original list of 1855 there are only 59 names. The reason for the difference is ownership-sharing and the abandonment of a good. The former Chateau Léoville was indeed divided into three parts in 1826, but was rated as a winery. The two Châteaux Pichon-Longueville and Batailley were divided into two parts only after 1855, so they are only included once each. And the Château Dubignon does not exist anymore, the vineyards migrated to Château Malescot Saint- Exupéry, Château Margaux and Château Palmer. There were also some name changes.

Only two of the 1855 classified wineries are still owned by the same family as then, that is Château Langoa-Barton and Château Mouton-Rothschild, The 61 châteaux today comprise about 3,000 hectares of vineyards with about 20% of the Médoc production. The five Premier Cru-Classé estates are "National Heritage" and may not be sold to foreigners; a potential buyer must be French. In the column "R" the order in the original list and under "Name 1855" the former names:



NAME 1855


Premier Cru Classé (5)

Château Lafite-Rothschild 1 Lafite Pauillac
Château Latour 3 Latour Pauillac
Château Margaux 2 Margaux Margaux
Château Mouton-Rothschild - Mouton - was 1st at Deux. Pauillac
Château Haut-Brion (Exception, see above) 4 Skin Brion Pessac-Léognan

Deuxième Cru Classé (14)

Château Brane-Cantenac 8th Brane Cantenac Cantenac-Margaux
Château Cos d'Estournel 11 Cos Destournel Saint-Estèphe
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 10 Ducru Beau Caillou Saint-Julien
Château Durfort-Vivens 5 Durfort Margaux
Château Gruaud-Larose 6 Gruaud-Laroze Saint-Julien
Château Lascombes 7 Lascombe Margaux
Château Léoville-Barton 4 Léoville - as 1 shared flat w. Saint-Julien
Château Léoville-Las-Cases 4 Léoville - as 1 shared flat w. Saint-Julien
Château Léoville-Poyferré 4 Léoville - as 1 shared flat w. Saint-Julien
Château Montrose 12 Montrose Saint-Estèphe
Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 9 Pichon Longueville - was 1 Pauillac
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse 9 Pichon Longueville - was 1 Pauillac
Château Rauzan-Gassies 3 Rauzan-Gassies Margaux
Château Rauzan-Ségla 2 Rauzan-Ségla Margaux

Troisième Cru Classé (14)

Château Boyd-Cantenac 7 Boyd-Cantenac Cantenac-Margaux
Château Calon-Ségur 12 Calon Saint-Estèphe
Château Cantenac Brown 7 Cantenac Brown Cantenac-Margaux
Château d'Issan 2 d'Issan Margaux
Château Desmirail 10 Desmirail Margaux
Château Ferrière 13 Ferrière Margaux
Château Giscours 5 Giscours Labarde Margaux
Château Kirwan 1 Kirwan Cantenac-Margaux
Château Lagrange 3 Lagrange Saint-Julien
Château La Lagune 9 Lalagune ludon
Château Langoa-Barton 4 Langoa Saint-Julien
Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry 6 Saint-Exupery Margaux
Château Marquis d'Alesme-Becker 14 Becker Soussans-Margaux
Château Palmer 8th Palmer Margaux
There is no longer 11 Dubignon Margaux

Quatrième Cru Classé (10)

Château Beychevelle 9 Ch. De Beychevele Saint-Julien
Château Branaire-Ducru 4 Branaire Saint-Julien
Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild 5 Duhart Pauillac
Château La Tour Carnet 7 carnet Saint-Laurent
Château Lafon-Rochet 8th Rochet Saint-Estèphe
Château Marquis-de-Terme 11 Marquis de Termes Margaux
Château Pouget 6 Pouget-Lassale Cantenac-Margaux
Château Prieuré-Lichine 10 Le Prieuré Cantenac-Margaux
Château Saint-Pierre 1 Saint-Pierre Saint-Julien
Château Talbot 2 Talbot Saint-Julien

Cinquième Cru Classé (18)

Château Batailley 2 Batailley - today 2 shared apartments Pauillac
Château Belgrave 12 Coutenceau Saint-Laurent
Château Cantemerle 17 Cantemerle - tail light Macau
Château Clerc Milon 15 Clerc Milon Pauillac
Château Cos Labory 14 Cos Labory Saint-Estèphe
Château Croizet-Bages 16 Croizet-Bages Pauillac
Château d'Armailhac 8th Darmailhac Pauillac
Château Dauzac 7 Dauzac Labarde Margaux
Château de Camensac 13 Camensac Saint-Laurent
Château du Tertre 9 La Tertre Arsac-Margaux
Château Grand-Puy Ducasse 4 Artigues-Arnaud Pauillac
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 3 Grand Puy Pauillac
Château Haut-Bages-Libéral 10 Skin Bages Pauillac
Château Haut-Batailley 2 Batailley - today 2 shared apartments Pauillac
Château Lynch-Bages 5 Lynch Pauillac
Château Lynch-Moussas 6 Lynch Moussa Pauillac
Château Pédesclaux 11 Pedesclaux Pauillac
Château Pontet-Canet 1 Canet Pauillac


With the unofficial term "Super-Seconds" are referred to without Deuxièmes-Châteaux, which are due to superior wine qualities near or at Premier Cru level. With a new classification, these would land at the top. Experts disagree on the list, but the following are often cited: Cos-d'Estournel, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Gruaud-Larose, Léoville-Las-Cases, Montrose, Pichon-Longueville Comtesse, Pichon-Longueville Baron and Rauzan Ségla. Many experts also say that the Cinquième-Châteaux (5th) Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Lynch-Bages, as well as the Troisième-Château (3rd) Palmer would earn 2nd place. See a list of different classification systems under the keyword Grand Cru, The EU-wide classification system is under the keyword quality system described.

Map: By Domenico-de-ga from Wikipedia , CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link
Changes from the original by Norbert Tischelmayer 2017
Facsimile Bordeaux classification: Antique wine

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