First Growths

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Search for First Growth wines »In the world of fine wine the Bordeaux First Growths are undoubtedly the most well-known, fashionable, and valuable wines in the world.

The current First Growths have been receiving these plaudits for centuries and were, in-fact, already considered as the best wines from Bordeaux, long before any formal classification was conducted.

The Crus Classés system was first introduced in 1855 when Napoleon III invited the Chamber of Commerce to produce an official classification of Bordeaux for the newly created Exposition Universelle de Paris. Napoleon wanted the exhibition to represent the best of French produce and, at the time, it was the most ambitious grading of agriculture ever attempted.

Chateau Haut-Brion

The 1855 Classification

The task to produce this list was entrusted to the Bordeaux brokers and they assessed each Château on its current market value and existing popularity. They only judged red wines from the Médoc and Graves with the honours allocated to the individual Châteaux or producers and not to the unique vineyards (as in Burgundy).

Wines produced in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol were not considered in this classification as they were deemed to have little market value at the time; this has since been reconsidered and Saint-Émilion was classified in the 1950s. Pomerol however, still has no formal classification system.

The 1855 Classification designated the top producers as Premier Grand Crus (First Growths), and then in descending order to Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths), Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths), Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growths), and finally Cinqièmes Crus (Fifth Growths).

  • Premier Grand Crus (First Growths)
  • Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths)
  • Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths)
  • Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growths)
  • Cinqièmes Crus (Fifth Growths)
  • Premier Grand Cru Supérieur Classé (First Growth, Château d'Yquem)

Of all the wines submitted, only four Châteaux were given the status of First Growth; Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Margaux which were all from the Médoc. Château Haut-Brion was the only exception, coming from Graves (now Pessac-Léognan).

There has only ever been one amendment to the First Growth tier, which had remained unchanged for over 100 years. After many years of lobbying from the influential owner of Château Mouton Rothschild, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the estate was upgraded from Second Growth to First Growth in 1973.

The sub-regions of Sauternes and Barsac were also classified in 1855, although under slightly different categories. There were only two tiers and the top producer, Château d'Yquem, was given its own title above all others, that of Premier Grand Cru Supérieur Classé (First Growth), while 11 other wines were designated as Premiers Crus Classés, and 12 more as Deuxièmes Crus Classés.

En Primeur

Chateau Latour collection

Learn more about En Primeur »

All of the First Growth Châteaux (except Château Latour) release some of their wine through the En Primeur system using various négociants (brokers). This allows the Châteaux to sell their wine up to two years before it is bottled. En Primeur is the best time to purchase top wines, as that is when they are available at their lowest market prices. It is also the only time consumers and collectors can obtain a substantial volume of their favourite wines and be unequivocally certain of provenance.

AWC Fine Wine prides itself on selling and sourcing the finest wines from Bordeaux. If you do not see the wine you are looking for, please contact one of our wine advisors for assistance.

In addition, we are always looking to source wines from First Growth Châteaux, from single bottles to full cases. If you are interested in selling your wines please contact our buying team.