The Bordeaux fine wines classification system is fascinating and has a rich history, and thanks to the French Emporer, it remains the most revered wine in the world.
Even if wine from Bordeaux isn’t within the classifications, it can still be a remarkable wine to drink. The classification system is a way to showcase the finest wines produced in this region of France, which is what makes Bordeaux fine wines so investable and collectable.
The classification system was created in 1855 by Emperor Napoleon III for his Exposition Universelle de Paris. He wanted to showcase the region’s fine wines to visitors from around the globe. There are now thousands of winemakers, of whom fifty are said to be world class.
Why are fine wines classified at all?
Bordeaux is in its own class, just the same as Champagne, Cognac or Burgundy. These incredible examples of exquisite libations are considered the finest of the finest, just the same as foods are protected from different regions across the globe.
There are five official Bordeaux classifications, and they are:
- The 1855 classification – Medoc & Graves
- The 1855 classification – Sauternes and Barsac
- The 1955 Saint-Émilion classification
- The 1959 Graves classification
- The Crus Bourgeois du Médoc classification
- The Crus Artisans du Médoc classification
You may well be thinking that there are actually six mentioned above, and you are correct. However, two are from the same year and appellation, so technically, there are five, according to the official Bordeaux website.
THE BORDEAUX FINE WINE CLASSIFICATION CATEGORIES
The 1855 Left Bank classification wines include five categories which are:
- Premier Cru
- Deuxiemes Cru
- Troisiemes Cru
- Quatrieme Cru
- Cinquiemes Cru
The Left Bank of Bordeaux boasts over 200 châteaux which are classified as Cru Bourgois and produce some of the finest wines in the world, including Grand Cru and Grand Cru Classe, which suggest the highest quality wines from the region.
WHY IS THERE A LEFT BANK AND A RIGHT BANK IN BORDEAUX?
The two winemaking regions in Bordeaux are two sides of an estuary and two rivers situated on the west coast of France. The rivers Dordogne and Garonne divide the region creating the Right Bank, which is to the north and right of the Gironde and the region below is known as the left bank.
The different areas mean there are differences in terroir, and therefore, they each produce different styles of wine.
Right Bank wines are mainly Merlot balanced with a little Cabernet. Left Bank wines tend to mainly be Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot.
WHICH GRAPE VARIETIES COME FROM BORDEAUX?
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
- Petit Verdot
- Sauvignon Blanc
NEW BORDEAUX WINE GRAPES
January 2021 saw the national appellation body of France (INAO) approve the use of six new grape varieties in Bordeaux to try and help combat climate change. Not all appellations are in a position to use them, so they will mostly be used in Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Entre-deux-Mers and AOC Bordeaux wines.