This is my first attempt to classify Rioja’s best producers, an exercise that I have tried in other countries, with a degree of success and no little controversy. It is very loosely based on the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, with five different bands (first, second, third, fourth and fifth growths) and a group of 40 crus bourgeois, although quality rather than price is the only criterion I use.
My 2015 classification is a snapshot of Rioja’s wine industry and wil be updated in a year’s time. Mindful that a critic should attempt to reward talent, irrespective of a long track record in some cases, I have chosen my favourite producers, rather than parroted the opinions of others, mixing recently created bodegas with some of the most historic names in the region. I hope it stimulates some debate.