Rolls-Royce cars, Patek Philippe watches and Steinway pianos are all names that the connoisseur will recognise as the best of the best in their particular field. Of course some will dispute this and may indeed prefer a different brand of car, watch or musical instrument. What is difficult to argue however is that each of the above have demonstrated consistency and meticulous attention to detail over a very long period of time in order to deliver a superior product to the discerning.
The same principles apply in the world of fine wine. The 1855 classification in Bordeaux stated that Chateau Margaux, Lafite, Latour and Haut-Brion were confirmed as the first growths. That list still stands today with only one change, Mouton-Rothschild was added in 1973. Ultimately the price a wine achieves is decided by the market and since the early eighteenth century brokers had noticed how the best wines achieved substantially higher prices than others from neighbouring properties. A first growth would realise twice the price of a second and three times as much as a third. It really is pretty hard to argue in any field when consistency has been demonstrated over three hundred years!
Wine making has changed significantly since the 1855 classification to the benefit of the everyday wine drinker, but of course the first growths have seized these improvements too. They employ the world’s top wine makers to work in the finest cellars with the very best equipment and conditions. Coupled with the advantages they have always had of strictly controlled yields from vineyards on the very best soils for growing the Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot grape then their advantage looks secure for the foreseeable future.
Examples of Bordeaux first growth wines will feature in the Biddle & Webb Wine & Spirits Sale is on the 14th September at 2pm.
Viewings: Wednesday 13th, 10am-4pm
By Rob Simmonds