jamie goode's wine blog: 'New' 1855 Bordeaux classification - interesting results

Monday, March 09, 2009

'New' 1855 Bordeaux classification - interesting results

One of the first things wine nuts learn is the famous 1855 classification of the left-bank Bordeaux properties. What is amazing is that despite the significant changes in the wine world - including the phylloxera outbreak and subsequent replanting - over the last 154 years, this classification has been surprisingly enduring. Especially when you consider that just one factor was used to determine the ranking: the prices wines that the wines sold for.

Well, as a bit of fun, Liv-ex have revised the 1855 classification and brought it up to date. James Miles, Director at Liv-ex , explains: “Our aim from the outset was to recreate the conditions of the 1855 classification. To base it wholly on price – as the 1855 classification was – and include only the major estates of the Left Bank. In essence, to create the classification that would have been drawn up if today’s prices were those prevalent 154 years ago.”

Liv-ex give some background to the original 1855 classification, which was produced by the Bordeaux Brokers Union at the request of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose was to be used as part of the regional display at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855. The Brokers returned their classification just two weeks after the original request was made. It was based wholly on the price each chateaux’s wine reached on the Bordeaux market. This was soon considered an ‘official’ classification, particularly by those outside the Bordeaux trade.

The Liv-ex Bordeaux Classification
Criteria for inclusion: left bank wines only (both Medoc and Pessac-Leognan); minimum production of 2000 cases; first wines only.

· Mission Haut Brion joins the 1st growths
· Lynch Bages is the biggest climber, moving up from the 5th growths to join the 2nds
· Palmer moves from the 3rds to become the top 2nd
· 10 wines drop out of the classification
· 9 wines join it

“Mission Haut Brion has clearly reached the level of a First Growth", says James Miles. "The difference in price between Mission and the wine below it (Palmer) is larger in percentage terms than that between any other adjacent wines in the classification, with the former twice the price of the latter.”

“The second wines of the great chateaux are a complicating factor," says Liv-ex's Jack Hibberd. "They obviously didn’t exist in 1855, so we decided to classify each property on the basis of their first wine. It is interesting to note, however, 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 view the new 1855 classification here.



At 11:47 PM, Blogger Italian Wine Blog said...

Do you think this is going to drastically effect the prices particularly for Palmer? I love Palmer and find it to be decent value in comparison, sometimes you can find a "bargain".

Is all that going to change from here on out. Or will even past Palmers rise in price?

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Pedro Guimarães said...

Lynch-Bages is hardly of the same quality than the other 2nd...3rd growth would make more sense!!!

I dont think Palmer can rise even more, it´s already crazy expensive even in off-vintages...though i love the wine i never buy it as you can find better values at similar quality level...

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Rod said...

Very interesting.

Do we know how much the other Graves properties were trading for in 1855?

Haut Brion's inclusion in the original classification was an exception to the otherwise all Médoc nature of the list. Presumably based on its celebrity, value and maybe even proximity to the city (must get round to actually reading Dewey Markham's book one day.

Perhaps, even then, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Laffite, et al. were selling for more than Camansac and Croizet-Bages - I should certainly hope so.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Ole Martin Skilleås said...

Because of his market power, this would be Parker's re-classification. Wouldn't it?

At 3:44 PM, Blogger king bing said...

Despite Parker's influence, this is not a direct equiavalent of an average of his ratings. Lagrange St Julien is often liked by Parker but actually falls in rankings. Lascombes shoudl do better as Parker likes it a lot. Beychevelle (usually not liked by Parker) actually goes up in classification. St Pierre and Talbot (also both not liked by Parker in general) are surprisingly resilient.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger king bing said...

Also interesting that Haut Marbuzet comes above Sociando Mallet. The latter a surefire bet for top former cru bourgeois, I'd have thought - wrongly.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Angus said...

I think that making the same mistake that the 1855 classification did by judging the wines/châteaus based on price it is a crime and an injustice.

Wine can not be judge in that way as that only can reflect in good depth the supply and demand for the wines.

I believe Cos d'estornel and Ducru should be rated 1st growths.
Sociando mallet 3rd groth
and Lynch Bages not worthy of a second groth status.

I will be worth it for someone
to actaully rate the wines for its quality. to be fair and precise.


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