Definition - What does First Growth mean?
First Growth is a term referring to a classification of wines, generally from the Bordeaux region of France. Also known as Premier Cru, First Growth wines are the top wines in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
A wine’s ranking in the Bordeaux classification is a large influence on quality perception and price. First growth wines command a high price tag and are widely known among those in the wine industry.
WineFrog explains First Growth
The First Growth classification came about during The Exposition Universelle of 1855. This international exhibition began under the reign of Napoleon III. He wanted a venue to showcase the best wines France had to offer, as well as a classification system for those wines. They were ranked by chateau reputation and the price the wines could command on the open market. The Exposition gave rise to the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, which was made up of the top wines, also known as the Grand Cru classes. Within these classes, wines were ranked in 5 divisions numbered First Growth through Fifth Growth.
First Growth wines are the cream of the crop. Some well known first growth producers include: Chateau Lafite - Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut - Brion, Chateau Mouton Rothschild. All of these producers can be found on the left bank of the Garonne River surrounding the city of Bordeaux, specifically the wine regions of Pauillac, Margoux and Graves/Pessac Leognan.