Wine Quality levels of Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux wine mapThere are thousands of Chateaus in Bordeaux, Chateau could be a castle surrounded by vineyards or it could be nothing more than just  a small home by a vineyard.  Labeling “Chateau” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a higher quality wine; in fact, a very large portion of wine produced in Bordeaux comes from a Chateau.  It is only if the Chateau is classified as Cru Classe’ or Grand Cru Classe’.

The quality of Bordeaux wines can be categorized into 3 levels:

1. Appellation Bordeaux Controlee

The lowest level of quality is those from the overall region of Bordeaux.  This means grapes can be sorted from anywhere in Bordeaux, therefore they are generally inexpensive and are meant casual everyday enjoyment. 

Les Portes de Bordeaux 2010

2. Villages

There are several important villages within Bordeaux, they are: Medoc (including Haut-Medoc), Pomerol, St. Emiliion and Graves.  Wines from these specific areas will come with a higher price tag, they are of course at better quality.  Each will have their own sets of requirements and regulations to help ensure the quality of wine produced.  They tend to be stricter than those of the entire Bordeaux region.

Chateau Mascard Haut-Medoc 2011

3. Classified Chateaus + Village

Known as the 1855 Classification which took place in the same year, 61 Chateaus in Bordeaux were awarded Grand Cru Classe’ designation, or Great Classified Growth.  These 61 Chateaus are at the highest quality possible in all of Bordeaux, not only the will demand a higher price tag, but for some of the top Chateaus, getting your hand on one means joining membership, waiting list and even bidding at wine auctions.  No wonder, some of the most expensive wines in the world can be found among these 61 Chateaus.  The top 5 are: Chateau Lafite-Rothchild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Mouton-Rothchild.

For some reason, Pomerol was never classified.  The region’s most sought-after wine -Petrus-  isn’t part of the top 5 rated growths; however, unofficially it is understood that there should be 6 Premier (1st) growths in Bordeaux, Petrus definitely by all mean deserves it.

Chateau Prieure-Lichine Grand Cru Classe Margaux 1993

Cru Bourgeois

Medoc is the larger region within Bordeaux consists of seven districts: Haut-Medoc, St. Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, Moulis and Listrac.  Medoc also has a another classification of it own.  The next level down from those Classified Chateaus is  “Cru Bourgeois”.  Currently, there are more than 240 Chateaus carrying this designation.  Many top Cru Bourgeois can rival those of the 3rd or 4th Classified Chateaus.

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