In wine terminology, First Growth status (Premier Cru in French) refers to a classification of wines from the Bordeaux region of France. The four main regions in Bordeaux are Medoc, Graves and Pessac-Leognan, St Emillion and Pomerol.
The classification of the best Bordeaux wines was drawn up at the behest of Emperor Napoleon III for the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, a list of the top ranked wines, named the Grand Crus Classés (Great Classified Growths). Given the inordinately and almost unmanagably large number of independent Chateaux in Bordeaux producing wine, it was considered a high honour indeed to have your wine classified. It also meant you could now charge an exhorbitant amount for your wine. The wonders of marketing. Seems like little has changed.
Within the Grand Cru Classé list, wines were further ranked and placed in one of five groups (First through to Fifth Growths). The wines deemed the very best were given the highest possible rank of Premier Cru; Château Latour, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Margaux and Château Haut-Brion. Three of the First Growths came from the Medoc region, except for Chateau Haut-Brion, which was from Graves. Not a single wine from St Emillion or Pomerol was granted the same status.
The 1855 list remained unchanged for over a hundred years, until 1973 when Mouton Rothschild was promoted to Premier Cru status. In 1988 the premier cru Château Haut-Brion had its appellation (indication of geographical origin) changed from Graves to Pessac-Leognan.
Presently the following wines are classified as First Growths:
Château Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac) Médoc
Château Margaux (Margaux) Médoc
Château Latour (Pauillac) Médoc
Château Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan
Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac) Médoc
Tags: bordeaux "first growth" "french wine" "wine classification 1855" napoleon