Champagne grand cru: the stamp of terroir

Champagne’s hierarchy in terms of ‘crus’ and thus terroir is not a self-evident concept in this prestigious wine region, which is home to just one appellation and produces wines that have always been exported worldwide.

Yet such a hierarchy does exist – the Grands Crus are Champagne’s elite. They are single-growth and sometimes even single-vineyard wines harvested from 4,000 of the region’s 34,300 bearing hectares. This equates in total to about 11% of volumes. Their boundaries embrace just 17 localities out of the 319 that form the Champagne region and only cover the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs in Marne. This is no accident. The two areas have the best vineyard sites with chalky sub-soils that allow the vines to put down deep roots and retain water if necessary. And if you factor in the incline and good aspects, the result is the best configuration for producing fine wines, a prerequisite – over time – for producing top Champagnes. Unlike the prestige labels from the major brands, which are generally based more on the concept of blending, Grands Crus Champagnes tend to be produced by winegrowers. They often own vineyards in a single locality and are therefore compelled to focus on the statement as a point of difference. The

category is in a way a simple means of rediscovering Champagne through a traditional lens by venturing out to meet the passionate men and women who make it.



By Alain Echalier photographs - courtesy of the estates