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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does the term "first-growth" mean? Is there a second, third, etc.? Is this term related at all to "single-vineyard"?

—Robert, Miami

Dear Robert,

When people say "first-growth," they're talking about Bordeaux, or at least alluding to it. In the Bordeaux Classification of 1855, wine brokers ranked châteaus based on reputation and price. The classification ranked them within "growths," or crus, from first down to fifth.

A first-growth (or premier cru) is not necessarily a single-vineyard wine. Also keep in mind that many Bordeaux châteaus are not included in the classification system. While the ranking still has a big influence on the perception of quality, these days it's not unusual to see a second-growth (or even a wine from a source ignored by the system) fetching as high a price as a first-growth.

—Dr. Vinny

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