In Burgundy it is obvious to assess each individual situation, while in Champagne there is a much more blunt system where entire villages, regardless of 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. With the current development with more and more Lieu-dit wines, perhaps the future will give us a fairer system.
In 1911, échelle de cru was created, a fixed ranking of the quality of the villages to formalize the grape price. A 100% Grand cru 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% of the price of Premier cru down to 80% for the grapes of the lowest ranked villages.
In 1985, an update was made to the classification as some well-known 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 rightly pay significantly more for grapes from the best locations in some high-class villages. Today, there are 319 crus divided into 20 sub-regions.
GRAND CRU VILLAGES
- Mailly Champagne
- Le Mesnil-sûr-Oger
PREMIER CRU VILLAGES
Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Tauxières.
Bergères-lès-Vertus (only green grapes), Billy-le-Grand, Bisseuil, Chouilly (only black grapes), Cuis (only green grapes), Épernay Grauves (only green grapes), Trépail, Vaudemange, Vertus, Villeneuve-Renneville, Villers- Marmery, and Voipreux.
Chigny-les-Roses, Ludes, Montbré, Rilly-la-Montagne, Épernay, and Trois-Puits.
Avenay, Champillon, Cumières, Hautvillers, and Mutigny.
Bergères-lès-Vertus (only black grapes), Bezannes, Chamery, Coligny (only green grapes), Cuis (only black grapes), Écueil, Étréchy (only green grapes), Grauves (only black grapes), Jouy-lès-Reims, Les Mesneux, Pargny-lès-Reims, Pierry, Sacy, Tours- sur-Marne (only green grapes), Villedom- mange, Villers-Allerand, and Villers-aux-Noeuds.