Wine Investment: The New 1855 Classification

The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 (or Grand Crus Classés (Great Classified Growths)) was borne out of Emperor Napoleon III’s request for a classification system of France’s best Bordeaux wines.

He requested it for an international exposition that was intended to outdo the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace 4 years earlier. Wine Industry brokers ranked wine on the trading price and reputation of the Chateau rather than on any huge holistic tasting process. They were also ranked by importance of first growth to fifth growth. With the first growth (or Premier Cru) accolade bestowed upon only 4 wines: Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, Château Latour, and Château Latour.

Despite several requests for change the classification has only seen 2 adjustments in 154 years and even a bid for revision was rejected in 1960., an electronic marketplace for fine wine investment, has caused quite a stir by attempting to re-create the 1855 classification, in Director James Miles’ words, ‘Our aim, in essence, was to create the classification that would have been drawn up if today’s prices were those prevalent 154 years ago.’
Only the first wine from each estate was considered for selection. They took an average price from the last five vintages (2003-2007) for a 12x75cl case. £200 was the minimum price per case to be included in the classification.

Then they split the wines by prince band like so:
1st Growths: £2,000 a case and above
2nd Growths: £500 to £2,000
3rd Growths: £300 to £500
4th Growths: £250 to £300
5th Growths: £200 to £250.

Liv-ex research manager Jack Hibberd said, ‘The second wines of the great chateaux are a complicating factor. They obviously didn’t exist in 1855, so we decided to classify each property on the basis of their first wine.

‘It’s interesting to note that if they were included as separate chateaux, 12 would make the cut, with Carruades de Lafite and Forts de Latour reaching the level of second growths.’

You can see the classification in its entirety by clicking on this link


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