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    Get To Know The 5 Famous First Growths of Bordeaux | Watson's Wine

    Get To Know The 5 Famous First Growths of Bordeaux

    When talking about French fine wines, the five Bordeaux 1st Growth(s) must come to your mind, especially the well-known winery Lafite Rothschild. Let’s get to know the characteristics of theses 1st Growth(s)!

    What is Bordeaux’s 1st Growth(s)?


    During the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris, Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system to showcase top Bordeaux wines to the world.  The local wine merchants then ranked the wines according to reputation, quality and trading price. Médoc Classifications, the Grand Cru Classé, have been the most famous Bordeaux classification. In total, 61 Chateaus were classified from Premiers Crus, Deuxièmes Crus, Troisièmes Crus, Quatrièmes Crus to Cinquièmes Crus, while Premiers Crus(1st Growth) is the best.  At that time, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion were classified as 1st Growth(s). Later in 1973, Mouton Rothschild was upgraded as 1st Growth(s) as well. Since then, the five of them has become world-renowned wineries.


    Let’s learn about the characteristics of the five 1st Growth(s) from North to South of the Bordeaux wine region:

    1. Chateau Lafite Rothschild


    Lafite is blessed with a fantastic terroir in the northern part of Pauillac. The Grand Vin vineyard locates on a plateau, with many vines that are over 50 years old. Lafite tastes like “An iron fist in a velvet glove” with aromas of blackcurrant and cigar. Lafite is world-famous not only because of its incredible quality but also  its price history at auction from time to time. For example, a 1787 Lafite has made the world record auction price of approximately US$156,000 for a single bottle of wine!

    2. Mouton Rothschild

    Chateau Mouton Rothschild is located in the commune of Pauillac, in the Medoc. It is the only winery elevated from 2nd Growth(s) to 1st Growth(s) status. With its gravelly soil, the vines give elegant, powerful, richly tannic and long-lived wines. Since 1945, Mouton Rothschild has established a tradition of inviting the most celebrated artists of their day, including Miró, Picasso and Dali to create its wine labels, making the wines more valuable to collect.

    3. Chateau Latour


    Chateau Latour is located in the heart of the Médoc wine region, which has been the leading proponents of sustainable development among the 1st Growth(s).  The entire vineyard of Latour was certified as being 100% organic in 2019. Its heart of the vineyard, L’Enclos, is farmed biodynamically and became one of the largest areas of biodynamics in Bordeaux. Chateau Latour’s Grand Vin is made exclusively from “vieilles vignes”, an average of 60 years   old, in the L’Enclos. Chateau Latour’s wines are very robust and energetic while the bouquet and impressions on tasting gradually evolve, becoming increasingly complex.

    4. Chateau Margaux

    In 1855, at the Paris Exhibition that named the 1st Growth(s), Chateau Margaux was the only one to get a 20/20 rating. The winery is located in the municipality of Margaux in the Médoc, which is the southernmost of the 4 Médoc 1st Growth(s). Although Margaux uses a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, its elegance remains as its signature.


    5. Chateau Haut-Brion


    Chateau Haut-Brion is the oldest of Bordeaux’s five 1st Growth(s) and the only 1st Growth(s) that is not located in Médoc. Chateau Haut-Brion’s vineyard is located in Pessac-Léognan, producing wines that offer subtle and complex aromas, well-balanced structure, and a deep and round texture.  The former United States President Thomas Jefferson was also a fan of Haut-Brion, making Haut-Brion became the first Bordeaux 1st Growth(s) to export to the United States, and boosted the success of Chateau Haut-Brion at an international level.

    Besides the five 1st Growth(s), there are many other Bordeaux wineries which are popular in Hong Kong. Here are some selected recommendations:

    1. Chateau Lascombes

    Chateau Lascombes, located in the Margaux appellation of France, was classified as one of fifteen 2nd Growth(s). Its vineyard is composed of a unique mix of 3 soil-types, including a gravelly outcrop, a block of clay-gravel and clay-limestone plots, giving good complexity to the wines it made. Since Dominique Befve, the former technical manager of Lafite Rothschild, has joined Lascombes in 2001, his modern winemaking techniques have produced elegant and fruity wines for Lascombes. Its wine even scored over 90pts from renowned wine critics Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate consecutively.


    2. Chateau Talbot


    Bordeaux 4th Growth(s) Chateau Talbot locates in the heart of the Saint-Julien appellation. Its wines are rich and masculine, offering smooth taste and silky tannins. Over the years, its wines can even develop a delicate, complex aromatic bouquet with tones of cedar and Havana tobacco. Its name “Talbot” is translated into “great treasure” in Chinese, which is perfect to send a Talbot as a gift to your loved ones can fully express your blessings and care!

    3. Chateau Petrus

    Chateau Petrus is located in Pomerol on the right bank of Bordeaux, which produces one of the most expensive wines in the world. Chateau Petrus produces around 30,000 bottles per year – an extremely limited annual production. It even produces no second wine. Most of its Vintages are produced with 100% Merlot. At the same time, it is one of the longest-lived Bordeaux wines. Chateau Petrus is popular among celebrities. It was served at the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and became the well documented favourite of President Kennedy as well.


    4. Chateau Cheval Blanc ( French for “White Horse Castle”)


    Chateau Cheval Blanc locates between Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, in the heart of the Bordeaux vineyards, which is a Premier Grand Cru Classe A of St.-Emilion. Chateau Cheval Blanc, which is translated into “White Horse”, has different versions of reason. The most famous said that King Henry IV rode a white horse to an inn there, later named White Horse Inn and the winery followed the tradition. Chateau Cheval Blanc produces Cabernet Franc-based wine, you may have a try.

    More popular wineries such as Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau d’Armailhac, Chateau Clerc-Milon and Chateau Lynch-Bages are waiting you to explore!

    Credit to:Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau Lascombes, Chateau Talbot, Chateau Cheval Blanc, IG@clubclub_55, Vinfolio