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Échelle des crus

Denomination (ladder of growths) for the classification of vineyards in the French wine-growing region of Champagne. In contrast to the Bordeaux or Burgundy classification, this does not apply to specific vineyards or sites, but to municipalities. This means that all vineyards located there are classified. It all began in the 18th century, when individual sites were ranked according to quality in order to determine the price of grapes. Allegedly the distance of the vineyard from the press house was the original criterion for the decision. The shorter the distance from the grape harvest to the press, the fresher the grapes and thus the higher the classification. At the beginning of the 20th century, the champagne houses exerted great pressure on the many small grape suppliers due to oversupply. In this context, the commissioned purchasers also used questionable practices, including intimidation and bribery, to achieve low prices. At that time, between 50 and 100% was evaluated and only 12 municipalities were awarded the Grand Cru status with 100%.

Échelle des crus - Karte mit Exposition und Geomorphologie

Finally, in 1920 the classification system "Echelle des Crus Champenois" was introduced. It was based on soil characteristics, microclimate, exposure (solar radiation), slope inclination, wind situation, grape variety and age of the vines. Now, every year, the winegrowers and champagne houses, coordinated by the CIVC authority, set the price for the Grand Cru grapes from 17 communes at 100%. All other grape prices are calculated on a percentage basis. This was 90 to 99% for the 42 Premier Cru and 80 to 89% for the remaining 261 communes (see a list of these communes under Champagne). Since the beginning of the 2000s, pricing has been left to the market, although the Échelle des crus system still serves as a guide. The reason, according to an official statement by the CIVC, was to avoid possible conflicts with EU law. By the way, in 2019 the price for the Grand Cru grapes per kg was 5.70 to 6.86 euros.

A detailed description of sparkling wine production with all processing steps can be found under Champagne. A complete list of the numerous vinification methods and cellar techniques, as well as the types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law, can be found under the keyword vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under the keyword wine law.

Sources: ChampagneWorld and Champagne&Champagne
Graphics: Kedge Business School

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