You are using an old browser that may not function as expected. <br><strong>For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.</strong>

Log in Become a Member


Classifications of vineyards (châteaux) or wines in Bordeaux were already made in the 18th century. Today there are five systems; the most famous dates back to 1855, but only wines from the left bank (rive gauche) of the Gironde were taken into account, including the Médoc, Graves and Sauternes areas. Of course, excellent wines also grow on the right bank (r ive droite), such as Fronsac, Pomerol and Saint-Émilion. The classification, which is more than one and a half centuries old, applies regardless of the quality of the wines, which certainly varies from year to year. So far, as an absolute exception, there has only been one change, with Château Mouton-Rothschild moving up from 2nd to 1st place. It still has great significance and is therefore used by the wineries for marketing purposes, with the rank being indicated on the label.

Bordeaux-Klassifizierung - Systeme bzw. Logos

Bordeaux classification systems

The remaining four systems in force today for other Bordeaux areas (which were not included in 1855) were introduced much later. The cru classes differ in designation and number of quality levels, which is confusing compared to the uniform Burgundy classification that applies to all appellations. There have been repeated attempts at standardisation. One proposal came from Alexis Lichine (1913-1989), which was also not realised.

  • Médoc for red wines with five levels - 1855
  • Sauternes and Barsac for white wines with three levels - 1855
  • Cru Bourgeois (Médoc) with one level - from the 1920s, recognised by EC 1976
  • Cru Artisan (Médoc) with one level - 1989, recognised by EU 1994
  • Graves for red and white wines with one level - 1953 and 1959 respectively
  • Saint-Émilion with two levels - 1955

The one-tier Cru Bourgeois and Cru Artisan systems apply to Médoc estates not classified as Grands Crus and rank behind the Grands Crus of 1855. The classification, which has already been changed several times, is repeated periodically (see then below). For Graves, a single-tier classification was created in 1953 and supplemented in 1959, distinguishing between red and white wines (all estates are located in Pessac-Léognan). For Saint-Émilion, a two-tier system was introduced in 1955, the classification is linked to the sites (vineyards). It is periodically reviewed, and wineries have to apply. In Fronsac and Pomerol, as an exception in Bordeaux, there is no classification.

The UGCB (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) represents the most important Bordeaux growing regions, represents the interests of independent winegrowers and acts as a marketing platform, especially for international customers. In addition to the UGCB, there are other, regional associations with similar goals, namely the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc, the Classement des Vins de Graves and the Classements des Vins de Saint-Émilion.

Bordeaux - Karte

The 1855 classification

From 15 May to 15 November 1855, under the aegis of Napoleon III (1808-1873), the Universal Exhibition was held in Paris. The main exhibition site had been temporarily erected between the Champs-Élysées and the Seine. The monarch instructed the Bordeaux (Gironde) Chamber of Commerce, in preparation for this event, to draw up "a complete list of the classified Bordeaux red wines as well as our great white wines". The wines of the right bank of the Dordogne were not included because these appellations were under the control of the Chamber of Commerce of Libourne. The reputation of these wines, such as Pomerol, did not...

Voices of our members

Thorsten Rahn

The Wine lexicon helps me to stay up to date and refresh my knowledge. Thank you for this Lexicon that will never end in terms of topicality! That's what makes it so exciting to visit more often.

Thorsten Rahn
Restaurantleiter, Sommelier, Weindozent und Autor; Dresden

The world's largest Lexicon of wine terms.

26,079 Keywords · 46,828 Synonyms · 5,323 Translations · 31,413 Pronunciations · 186,872 Cross-references
made with by our author Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer. About the Lexicon