Word of the Week: First Growth

Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Margaux.. These are the five “first growth” estates, whose names count among the most cherished and iconic (and expensive) wines on earth. In 1855, Napoleon III ordered a classification of the great Bordeaux estates of the Médoc (plus Haut-Brion in Graves) for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. The châteaux were categorized into five tiers (first growths, second growths, third growths, etc.), and those standings remain highly influential today in the marketing of Bordeaux wines. Initially, only four wineries ended up on top, but in 1973 Mouton Rothschild successfully petitioned to be elevated to first growth status, joining the ranks of Lafite, Haut-Brion, Margaux, and Latour. Interestingly, during his 1787 visit to Bordeaux, Thomas Jefferson jotted down his own classification, naming the same four wineries to the highest spots. Beyond the red wines, the 1855 Classification also included a second section on the great botrytized sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac . Only one winery, Château d’Yquem, achieved the rank of “superior first growth.” A broader definition of “first growth” not only encompasses Château d’Yquem, but also the top wines classified by other Bordeaux regions, namely Château Cheval Blanc, Château Ausone, Château Pavie, and Château Angélus of Saint-Émilion , as well as the famous Pétrus of Pomerol , where no classification system exists.

Château Latour

Premier Grand Cru Classé Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend 2006

The end all be all of Bordeaux estates in my opinion. This is spectacular. My favorite wine of the entire trip. Decanted 2 hours before our arrival to the chateau. There is just so much power and beauty in the wine. Elegant was not something I was expecting from this estate but this was ethereal. The aromas were haunting of strawberry jolly ranchers and a sea of rose petals. Suave but firm tannins on the end let you know that this wine was birthed from gravelly soils along the Gironde. I absolutely fell in love with this estate when I was blessed enough to visit. — 6 years ago

Shay, Daniel P. and 28 others liked this
Billy L.

Billy L.

@Aaron Means -Great note! Spot on with “power & beauty”! Agreed. Cheers 🍇🍷👍🏻

Château Mouton Rothschild

Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend 2015

David T

Very cool modern artwork for the new 2015 Chateau Mouton Rothschild label. Chosen by Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild who has taken over curation since the Baronesses passing. Designed by German artist Gerhard Richter. For his work, he’ll receive two cases of the 2015 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and a very nice addition to his resume. Score reflex’s Neil Martin’s rating of 95-97. Drink 2027-60. — 6 years ago

Sofia, Eric and 18 others liked this

Château Margaux

Premier Grand Cru Classé Margaux Red Bordeaux Blend 2003

This is just fantastic 12 years in. The complexity, structure, elegance are there to last many more. Phenomenal across all the senses, this is a masterpiece of Margaux. The fruits are gorgeous and silky and the earthy and herbaceous elements are so harmonious. The finish is lengthy and glorious. Outstanding! 2003 vintage — 9 years ago

Maria liked this

Château Haut-Brion

Pessac-Léognan Red Bordeaux Blend 2009

I thought it was a Napa Cabernet at first from the nose which was youthfully loaded with fruit and oak, a slight purple floral note too. The palate however was all Bordeaux, with plenty of fruit and fairly fine but copious tannin. Scorched earth like charcoal and lavender appeared on the finish. Plenty of length and some finesse for such a big and ripe vintage. Should get even better but curious how long this will go. — 8 years ago

Steve, Anthony and 3 others liked this

Château Lafite Rothschild

Pauillac Red Bordeaux Blend 1982

Dan Fredman

1982 Lafite living up to its reputation. Elegance amid concentrated fruit, with the requisite tobacco, cedar, and lead pencil notes everyone said are supposed to be there. The real deal, benchmark Bordeaux, benchmark wine... — 9 years ago

Lyle, Sasha and 32 others liked this
Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Not bad for someone who doesn't like bordeaux all the time 😀