The Champagne Cru classification

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Some champagne (or French wines in general), labels contains the indications premier cru or grand cru, in this article we will explain the meaning of these terms compared to champagne.

Champagne is one of the few cases where the product, the type of wine and the geographical name fit perfectly. The name Champagne can be used only for classic method sparkling wines produced in the Champagne-Ardenne region, northeast of Paris. This is a very North, near the 49 ° parallel, with an average annual temperature of 10 ° C (40 ° F), not suitable for production of still wines, but very suitable for the fermentation of the classical method for ‘acidity that keeps so cool climate grapes that ripen in a certain latitudes.

The surface of vineyards is very large with over 33000 hectares. There are about 5000 producers in singing with the label and 14000 growers who sell their grapes to third parties. The main areas of reference are: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne. Prorie each with specific characteristics in terms of soil type and microclimate.

In such a vast area there are still areas where the quality of the grapes is consistently higher than in the rest of the region. Just to certify these qualitative differences, in 1919 was created the system of ‘Échelle des Grands Crus (the scale of crus), which determines each year the maximum purchase price based on the quality of the grapes of the vineyard. At the same time was also carried out a classification of all 319 villages of the region by assigning to each a percentage score. This percentage determines the purchase price of grapes than the maximum price established in the year: a vineyard ranked at 100% will be paid the most, a 95% to a little ‘less and so on. Note that compared to other French wine regions delimiting the cru village and not a single vineyard. The original subdivision, largely the same as the current one includes three levels:
Grand Cru
The villages with 100% Grand Cru criteria are defined and are around 17 (Ambonnay, Avize, Ay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Chouilly, Cramant, Louvois, Mailly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Oiry , Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, and Verzenay Verzy) for a total of 4000 hectares. To put the words on the label Grand Cru champagne must be produced only from grapes from vineyards entirely included in these villages.

Premier Cru
Covering an area of ​​5000 hectares extending the 44 villages known as Premier Cru, classified between 90% and 99%, these are: Avenay, Bergeres-les-Vertus, Bezannes, Billy le Grand, Bisseuil, Chamery, Champillon, Chigny les Roses, Chouilly (PN), Coligny (CH), Cormontreuil, Coulommes la Montagne, Cuis, Cumières, Dizy, Ecueil, Etréchy (CH), Grauves, Hautvillers, Jouy les Reims, Les Mesneus, Ludes, Mareuil sur Ay, Montbré , Mutigny, Pargny les Reims, Pierry, Rilly la Montagne, Sacy, Sermiers, Taissy, Tauxières, Tours-sur-Marne (CH), Trépail, Trois Puits, Vaudemanges, Vertus, Villedommange, Villeneuve Renneville, Villers Allerand, Villers aux noeuds , Villers Marmery, Voipreux, Vrigny.
Deuxieme Cru
Finally the 255 villages classified between 80% and 89% are in practice without cru. Are part of this denomination about 21000 hectares of vineyards which also areas that are part of grand cru or premier cru.
This time we stop here, in the next article I will discuss the characteristics of individual areas of production as the Aube and Côte des Blancs.

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