How much should you care about a wine’s classification? Before tacking that question, let me point out that for most of us it would be a waste of time and brain space to memorise all of the rankings of Bordeaux wines. This is the kind of wine information that can and should be looked up whenever you are curious. and besides, no one (at least i hope no one) comes home from work and says, ‘honey, I’m in the mood for a third growth with dinner tonight.’
nonetheless the classifications can be helpful as a very general guide to quality. A majority of the First and second growth wines can be truly extraordinary. Part of the reason for this is the price those wines command. Clearly, chateaux with strong cash flows can afford to keep their vineyards and equipment in top form, as well as attract the best professional talent.
But there are countless wines that, today, are either better or worse than when they were first ranked, and many very good Bordeaux were never part of any official classification at all. The prime example is chateaux Petrus, one of the most expensive Bordeaux of all, but not classified because it is a Pomerol.
In the end, rankings and ratings are fragile and temporal things. They tend to close the door on wine experience rather than open it, narrow the sphere of pleasure instead of expand it. Rankings, in other words, are no substitute for the best evaluation method of all- tasting.