The five First Growths represent the top five Chateaux of Bordeaux and have collectively produced some of the most memorable wines in history. Originally classified as the top five wines in Napoleon III’s classification of 1855, their ranking still holds true today. Bordeaux remains the main component of many investment portfolios and with good reason; Haut-Brion, Margaux, Latour, Mouton and Lafite Rothschild have collectively appreciated 17.86% since the start of 2020 to date. This year alone our First Growth basket appreciated 5.92% in H1, a considerable return when compared to the 0.53% growth seen in the FTSE 100 (excluding dividends) over the same term. The First Growths are the backbone of fine wine and wine investment – understanding them is essential for any savvy collector.

Chateau Haut-Brion

Haut-Brion is the only First Growth found outside of the Medoc region, located in Graves in central Bordeaux. As the name suggests the top vineyards in this commune boast abundant gravel and before the marshlands of Bordeaux were drained, this was the heart of Bordeaux wine. Today, with the city of Bordeaux expanding, many Chateaux are found near or inside the city with Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion found in the city suburbs. These great estates have more sand in the vineyards than the Haut Medoc, accounting for the higher degree of Merlot planted and enhanced harmony and elegance of the wine.

In the early 20th century Clarence Dillon, an American banker, acquired Haut-Brion; Dillon’s great-grandson Prince Robert of Luxembourg is the current custodian. The Delmas family have headed the winemaking at Haut-Brion for the last three generations.

Compared to the other big five, Haut-Brion has the highest amount of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and in some years the blend sees more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. Most vintages are medium bodied, its richness and power on the palate balancing beautifully with the trademark tobacco note common to the wines of the appellation. Haut-Brion is famed for its smoky spice flavours and can be recognised by a distinct aroma of truffles and fine Havana Cigars.

Vineyard: 51 hectares
Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (48ha red varietals), Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris (3ha white varietals)
Production: ~10,000-12,000 cases per year
Second wine: Le Clarence de Haut-Brion

Available Wines

2021 Chateau Haut-Brion Premier Cru Classe, Pessac-Leognan 3x75cl

JA95JD95-97JS97-98RP96-98VM95-97WI93-95
£1,275/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2020 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan 6x75cl

JD92-94JS96-97RP91-93+VM91-93
£720/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

Chateau Margaux

Chateau Margaux is probably the most beautiful wine Chateau in the world, certainly the most iconic. The town itself is found upon a gravel island (peaking at 10-15 m, 35-50ft), and Margaux alongside its neighbour Chateau Palmer boast the commune’s best soil. The gravel here is shallow by comparison to Pauillac, with limestone directly underneath. The vines slope down the estuary and it is this poor, shallow soil and good drainage that give these great wines the elegant scent that defines them.

In the late 1970s, Margaux was purchased by the Greek-French entrepreneur Andre Mentzelopoulos. It was ranked number two behind Lafite in the 1855 Classification which has given rise to the saying: ‘If Lafite is the king of clarets Margaux is surely the queen.’ It is the most fragrant, graceful of the Bordeaux wines and has a reputation for a perfume of violets, rose petals, cedar and dry ripe fruit.

Vineyard: 82 hectares
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc
Production: ~12,500 cases a year
Second wine: Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux

Available Wines

2021 Chateau Margaux Premier Cru Classe, Margaux 6x75cl

DE97JA95JD95-97JS97-98RP95-97+VM95-97WI95-97
£2,550/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2021 Chateau Margaux Premier Cru Classe, Margaux 1x300cl

DE97JA95JD95-97JS97-98RP95-97+VM95-97WI95-97
£1,735/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2021 Chateau Margaux Premier Cru Classe, Margaux 3x75cl

DE97JA95JD95-97JS97-98RP95-97+VM95-97WI95-97
£1,275/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2018 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, Margaux 6x75cl

JD95JS95RP93VM94/100
£890/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Immediate

2021 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, Margaux 6x75cl

DE93JA92JS94-95RP91-93VM91-93
£828/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2021 Chateau Margaux Premier Cru Classe, Margaux 1x75cl

DE97JA95JD95-97JS97-98RP95-97+VM95-97WI95-97
£425/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

2021 Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux, Margaux 3x75cl

DE93JA92JS94-95RP91-93VM91-93
£414/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: En Primeur

Chateau Latour

A strategically important fort occupied the site of Chateau Latour in the Middle Ages, guarding the river estuary. The original buildings were destroyed in the 1450s by the King of France while expelling the English and all that remains from this time is one of the most recognisable symbols of Bordeaux, the tower. Latour spent 300 years under the control of connected families (directly related or related by marriage) and was finally sold in 1963. The French billionaire Francois Pinault purchased the property in 1993 and the day-to-day running is handled by Latour’s President, Frederic Engerer.

Latour has arguably the best terroir in Pauillac, its famous tower visible as you drive north into Pauillac from the village of St Julien. Latour is surrounded by top Second Growths, with Leoville Las Cases to the south, and Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron to the west; all powerful wines with high percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon. Latour tends to be the biggest of the First Growth wines, with an intense colour, powerful flavours and aromas, firm tannins and intense vitality. Latour is the epitome of left bank Bordeaux.

Vineyard: 92 hectares
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc
Production: ~12,500 cases per year
Second wine: Les Forts de Latour

Available Wines

2010 Chateau Latour Premier Cru Classe, Pauillac 3x75cl

JA100JS100RP100VM100
£3,500/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Future ArrivalETA to UK address: Apr 2023

2010 Chateau Latour Premier Cru Classe, Pauillac 3x75cl

JA100JS100RP100VM100
£3,500/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Future ArrivalETA to UK address: May 2023

2010 Chateau Latour Premier Cru Classe, Pauillac 3x75cl

JA100JS100RP100VM100
£3,500/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Future ArrivalETA to UK address: May 2023

2009 Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac 6x75cl

VM95/100
£1,255/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Immediate

2010 Chateau Latour Premier Cru Classe, Pauillac 1x75cl

JA100JS100RP100VM100
£1,167/CaseDuty Status: In BondAvailability: Future ArrivalETA to UK address: Apr 2023

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

To the north of Pauillac lies one of the most impressive gravel plateau of the Medoc. Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild occupy the peak on this plateau in the north of the Commune at 27m (88ft). This provides further drainage and the best view of the Gironde. The high mounds mean that the roots have to dig deep to find the water basin, struggling and concentrating their energy. The soil contains iron adding an extra minerality and richness to the wine.

Under the vision of Baron Phillipe De Rothschild, who assumed ownership in 1922, Mouton Rothschild flourished and even managed to achieve First Growth status in 1973, the only Chateau to ever gain a promotion in the 1855 Classification at First Growth level. By 1924 he had also introduced Chateau bottling for his entire crop which revolutionised winemaking practises in Bordeaux, also fermenting in huge oak casks which explains the balanced flavours of cedar. Famously Mouton commission a different artist every year to design their labels; previous contributors include Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. Mouton Rothschild has exotic and powerful aromas with pronounced minerality and red fruit tones and is often described as extravagant. In the finest of the Bordeaux vintages, it makes a truly great and legendary wine.

Vineyard: 90 Hectares
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
Production: ~18,000 cases per year
Second wine: Le Petit Mouton

Available Wines

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Lafite Rothschild is a powerhouse in terms of brand and reputation, presently commanding the highest prices amongst its First Growth peers. Lafite is the largest of the First Growths both in area and production and occupies the northern tip of Pauillac, close to the border with St Estephe in the Medoc. Evidence of the existence of winemaking on the site of Lafite dates to the 14th century, with records of the wine itself dating from 1641. In 1868, Lafite was purchased by Baron James de Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family and has been presided over by Eric de Rothschild since 1974.

Within the Pauillac appellation, Lafite is often considered the most elegant wine when compared to the powerful Latour and exotic fruitiness of Mouton Rothschild. Since the 1980s, Lafite has produced great vintages on a regular basis and has become the favourite wine of Asia.

Vineyard: 112 hectares
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
Production: ~25,000 cases per year
Second wine: Carruades de Lafite

Available Wines

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