The term Premier Cru champagne is a pledge of quality and origin for Champagne wines. It is not uncommon to come across this appellation on champagne labels, but few people know the origin of this classification. To understand the rationale behind this classification, we need to go back to the 19th century.
At the time, the demand for Champagne wines soared. Sales increased fourfold in the second half of the century alone. Faced with this increase in demand, the Champagne merchants wanted to ensure a constant and qualitative supply. The winegrowing landscape was then very different from the one we know today in Champagne. There were numerous vineyards, but in reality hardly any winegrowers actually produced champagne. They usually simply sold their grape production to merchants who took care of the vinification.
In this high demand context, the prices per kilo were set individually by village, thus creating strong disparities between the Champagne winegrowers. Unilaterally fixed by the Champagne Houses and merchants, these prices were fiercely criticized and numerous conciliation attempts were more or less successful. It was then decided to create a scale to classify the Champagne communes and their terroir according to the quality of the grapes produced there: this was the birth of the Champagne crus.
These Champagne crus are still divided into 3 categories to this day.
The most beautiful terroirs, those with the best natural conditions, are classified at 100%. These are the ones that give birth to the Grand Cru champagnes. These vines have the best locations: perfectly exposed slopes (coteaux in French) for optimal sunshine, subsoils richness and typicality, etc. Only 17 communes spread over the Reims Mountain, the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley are authorised to bear this exceptional label (*).
The remarkable terroirs are rated between 99 and 90%. These are the ones that give birth to Premier Cru champagnes (**). These are wines made from very high-quality grapes and from exceptional terroirs that differ only slightly from the Grand Cru. Only 44 terroirs are recognised as Premier Cru in Champagne. These very high-quality wines are often much more affordable than the Grand Cru and guarantee an excellent price-pleasure ratio!
Nowadays, the winegrowers enhance the value of these exceptional parcels of land through magnificent 1er Cru champagnes harvested and vinified by themselves. These wines are marvellous expressions of their know-how and their terroir.
And finally, the other Champagne crus alone represent nearly 80% of the total surface area of the appellation. They benefit from a grading ranging from 89 to 80% of the Grand Cru scale. By far the majority in Champagne, they logically represent the largest quantity of champagnes that you will find on your table. Of a very good quality, these wines are mainly from the Marne Valley and the Côte des Bar.
A quality grape is always essential for the making of a great champagne, but it is only a raw product that must be prepared, whether it is a Premier Cru or not!
As a true craftsman, the winemaker works the grapes and musts obtained according to their potential to bring out their full aromatic qualities. A Premier Cru champagne can therefore be a rosé as well as a Blanc de Blancs or a Blanc de Noirs, depending on the grapes chosen and the winemaker's desire.
It is therefore clear that the choice of your Premier Cru champagne depends above all on your wine preferences. Sugar enthusiasts will turn to a sweet champagne, while people looking for a pure wine will turn to an extra-brut or a brut nature. In the end, the Premier Cru label is a guarantee of superior wine quality and the promise of a great convivial moment. But it is up to you to choose your Premier Cru champagne to suit your preferences!
Difficult to choose when you have not tasted it yet... That's why the Champagne Terroir team has selected for you the best of the winemakers' Grand Cru champagnes. So rest assured, our knowledge about our winegrowers and their know-how have enabled us to select the best Champagne wines for you so that you can enjoy your bubbles serenely. You will find in our selection of winegrowers whose Premier and Grand Cru vineyards stand alongside the greatest names in Champagne such as Moët et Chandon and Laurent Perrier.
Feel free to explore our Grand Cru champagne selection and discover our many talented winemakers. And remember, if in doubt, ask us your questions as it is our job as wine merchants to help you select your Grand Cru winemaker's champagne!
Discover all our cuvées and feel free to ask us for advice via the chat (bottom right of your screen), by email or directly by phone at +33 1 89 27 00 60 from 9am to 6pm (UTC+2) from Monday to Friday.-
(*) The 17 communes of Champagne classified as Grand Cru are :
- In the Côte des Blancs, a terroir renowned for the purity of its Chardonnays: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oiry, Oger.
- In the Reims Mountain, home soil of the Pinot Noir: Ambonnay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Louvois, Mailly, Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay, Verzy.
- In the Marne Valley: Aÿ.
(**) The 44 communes of Champagne classified as Premier Cru are:
- In the Côte des Blancs, a terroir renowned for the purity of its Chardonnays: Bergères-les-Vertus, Chouilly, Cuis, Etrechy, Grauves, Vertus, Villeneuve-Renneville, Voipreux.
- In the Reims Mountain: Bezannes, Billy-le-Grand, Chamery, Chigny-les-Roses, Cormontreuil, Coulommes-la-Montagne, Ecueil, Jouy-les-Reims, Les Mesneux, Ludes, Montbré, Pargny-les-Reims, Rilly-la-Montagne, Sacy, Sermiers, Taissy, Tauxières, Trépail, Trois-Puits, Vaudemanges, Villedommange, Villers-Allerand, Villers-aux-Nœuds, Villers-Marmery, Vrigny.
- In the Marne Valley: Avenay, Bisseuil, Champillon, Cumières, Dizy, Hautvillers, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Mutigny, Pierry, Tours-sur-Marne.