The World’s Largest Category of Fine Wines?

Wine lovers, like horse-racing fans, love a system. No sooner does a bunch of wines, like horses at a race track, show up than the touts at the wine bar rail start devising some sort of hierarchy.

The classed-growths of Bordeaux’s Médoc district represent the most famous such system: The first-growth through fifth-growth hierarchy devised in 1855 and later codified (some would say “ossified”) into wine law by the French government with the arrival of controlled appellation laws in the 1930s.

Then there are the pyramidal distinctions of grand cru, premier cru and village, found in other regions of France, most famously Burgundy.

The Champagne region, for its part, employs … wait for it … a 100-point scale in ranking its vineyards, in addition to also using the designations grand cru and premier cru—a sort of belt-and-suspenders approach to categorization.

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