In Burgundy, it is obvious to assess each individual sit vineyard site, while in Champagne there is a much more blunt system where entire villages, no matter how much the terroir quality varies, have the same grading. Grand cru and Premier cru should of course be completely dependent on the quality of individual wineries also in Champagne. Here is Ambonnay Grand Cru.
With the current development with more and more lieux-dit wines from individual vineyards, perhaps the future will give us a fairer system.
In 1911, the échelle de cru was created, a fixed ranking of the villages’ quality to formalize the grape price. A Grand cru 100 percent would give growers full payment of a fixed price per kilo of grapes. Thereafter, the champagne houses paid a percentage of the price on a declining scale with 99-90 percent of the price of Premier cru down to 80 percent for the grapes of the lowest ranked villages. In 1985, an update of the classification was made when some famous villages received a higher and fairer classification. The system was officially abolished in 2010, but it still lives on in practice, although nowadays you can rightfully pay significantly more for grapes from the best locations in some high-class villages. Today, there are 319 crus divided into four main regions and twenty sub-regions.
- Le Mesnil-sûr-Oger
- 99%: Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Tauxières.
- 95%: Bergères-les-Vertus (green grapes only), Billy-le-Grand,
- Bissueil, Chouilly (blue grapes only), Cuis (green grapes only), Dizy, Grauves (green grapes only), Trépail, Vaudemanges, Vertus, Villeneuve-Renneville, Villers-Marmery and Voipreux.
- 94%: Chigny-les-Roses, Ludes, Montbré, Rilly-la-Montagne, Taissy and Trois-Puits.
- 93%: Avenay, Champillon, Cumières, Hautvillers and Mutigny.
- 90%: Bergères-les-Vertus (blue grapes only), Bezannes, Chamery, Cuis (blue grapes only), Écueil, Étréchy (green grapes only), Grauves (blue grapes only), Jouy-les-Reims, Les Mesneux, Pargny- les- Reims, Pierry, Sacy, Tours-sûr-Marne (green grapes only), Villedommange, Villers-Allerand and Villers-aux-Noeuds.
Since during my years as a champagne taster I got to know how the quality of the different villages varies within the villages and over time I have dared to do a personal quality analysis. You see the official status of the village at the top and exposed in the text. You can see my personal grades in parentheses. 95–100% Grand cru, 90–94% Premier cru on my own RJ scale.