He has been the first to dare classify over 550 wineries in Rioja Denominación de Origen Calificada (Qualified Designation of Origin) in accordance with the international model. Tim Atkin, a British critic and one of the most internationally renowned in the sector, and without doubt the person with the most comprehensive knowledge of Rioja, has classified the best wineries under five categories depending “only on the quality of the winery and its wines”, he assures us.
Among those in the top category is the veritable icon of the region: Marqués de Murrieta, which was not only the first winery to be set up in Rioja, way back in 1852, but which some 163 years later has been named the 2015 Best Winery in the World.
Atkin has classified wineries like Marqués de Riscal and CVNE in the second category, while Rothschild/Vega Sicilia named among those in the third category. The fourth category includes wineries like Marqués de Cáceres, Vivanco, Marqués de Vargas and LAN, while Eguren Ugarte and Torre de Oña are to be found in the fifth category.
After these, Atkin has established a sixth group of wineries that failed to make the classification in any of the first five categories, into which the following, among others, have been classified: Ramón Bilbao, Izadi, El Coto, Faustino and Martínez Lacuesta.
This classification model, which has been characteristic of the Bordeaux area since the mid-19th century, has been often used to classify international wineries according to its rigour and qualitative value. Indeed, it is the one that governs the big French wineries, but to date nobody had dared to apply its classification model to Rioja wines.
In addition to drafting this first classification in accordance with winery quality, Atkin has scored the wines from each one establishing a ranking that goes up to 99 points; a score that has only been obtained by the latest Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial by Marqués de Murrieta and El Pisón by Artadi vintages.