This year marks the 160th anniversary of the 1855 Classification, drawn up by the Bordeaux Brokers Union for use as part of the regional display at the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition. Based wholly on price, and including only the major estates of the Left Bank, it still defines the way we think about and refer to Bordeaux wines.

In 2009 Liv-ex recreated the 1855 classification by ranking major Left Bank wines by their price. Since then we have updated the classification every two years to reflect the market, publishing new classifications in 2011 and 2013. We have updated it again for its 160th anniversary year. 

To qualify for the Liv-ex Bordeaux Classification, wines had to be from the Left Bank (including Pessac-Leognan) and be produced in quantities of more than 2,000 cases. Only the first wine of each estate was considered. We then calculated the average case price for every qualifying wine (lowest available wholesale price for an in-bond OWC 12x75cl case in good condition, excluding duty and sales tax) for the past five vintages, 2009-2013 (the two exceptions are Latour, for which we used 2007-2011, and Lagune, for which we used 2008-2012). Prices are in GBP and as of 31 May 2015.

As the brokers did in 1855 (and we did previously in 2009, 2011 and 2013) we then split up the wines according to price band, which for 2015 are as follows:

  • 1st Growths: £2,000 a case and above
  • 2nd Growths: £550 to £1,999
  • 3rd Growths: £350 to £549
  • 4th Growths: £250 to £349
  • 5th Growths: £200 to £249

These price bands were modified from those used in 2013. We compared the average prices of all wines included in 2013 with the average prices of those in 2015. The average price change was a drop of 18%. This price change has been applied to the price bands used in 2013.

Full results are as follows:

1855 Classification_full

* Mouton Rothschild was elevated to First Growth status in 1973

2015 highlights:

The majority of wines held onto their 2013 status, including Mission Haut Brion, which remains a First Growth. Latour holds its position as top Left Bank wine, having surrendered it to Lafite in 2011. Marquis Alesme Becker and Croizet Bages were the only wines to drop out of 2013’s table. Several wines climbed from Fourth to Third Growth, including Grand Puy Lacoste and Domaine Chevalier. Haut Bailly was the wine to see the smallest price drop over the last two years, dipping just 1%, and has seen itself elevated to Second Growth status.

Climbers:

The table below shows the biggest climbers when comparing the 2013 and 2015 classification. Batailley saw the greatest move, rising from 52nd place in 2013 to 41st in 2015. 

1855 classification_climbers

Beyond Left Bank Bordeaux

While we have strictly followed the guidelines from 1855, we have wondered where the second wines (which didn’t exist in 1855) and Right Bank wines would have fallen in the classification. Take a look at the Liv-ex Blog later this week for our findings.