The 1855 Bordeaux classification is one of the most famous and influential wine rankings in the world. It was created by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce for the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1855, which was an international exhibition that aimed to showcase the best products from around the world. The classification was intended to be a way of showcasing the finest wines of the Bordeaux region, which is known for producing some of the most highly sought-after and expensive wines in the world.
The classification ranks the wines into five different tiers, or "growths", based on their reputation and price at the time. The first growths are considered the most prestigious, while the fifth growths are considered less highly esteemed. The original classification included 61 wines, with 58 from the Medoc region and three from the Graves region.
The first growths are Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion, and Château Mouton-Rothschild. These wines are still among the most highly sought after and expensive in the world, and they are considered the benchmark for the entire region.
The classification was based on a number of factors, including the quality of the soil and vineyards, the reputation of the winery, and the price of the wine. The rankings were determined by a panel of judges who were appointed by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, and the criteria used to evaluate the wines was not made public.
The 1855 Bordeaux classification is still in use today, and the wines that were included in the original classification are still highly sought after by collectors and wine lovers. The classification has been revised only once, in 1973, when Château Mouton-Rothschild was elevated from second growth to first growth.
While the 1855 Bordeaux classification is widely regarded as a benchmark for the region, it has also been criticised for its rigidity and lack of flexibility. Some critics argue that the classification is based on historical reputation rather than current quality, and that the rankings are too rigid to allow for changes in the quality of the wine over time. In addition, the classification only includes wines from the left bank of the Gironde estuary, which means that many high-quality wines from other parts of the region are not represented in the classification. Finally, the original classification was based on the opinions of a small group of experts, and some critics argue that it is not a fair representation of the entire region.
Despite these criticisms, the 1855 Bordeaux classification remains a prestigious ranking that is highly regarded by wine lovers and collectors around the world. Today, it remains an important benchmark for the Bordeaux region, and it is a testament to the enduring quality of the wines that were produced in the mid-19th century.