What are the French Grands Crus?

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Grands Crus are considered exceptional wines, but are they the best wines in the world? What are the criteria for this prestigious classification? From Burgundy to the Bordeaux, discover Maison Calvet’s Grands Crus, a title highly sought-after in more than 110 countries for its quality, authenticity and consistency.

What is a Grand Cru?

In oenology, a “cru” refers to a specific vineyard area, such as a terroir or the name of a municipality. In order for a wine to merit this designation, it must meet several finely balanced criteria:

  • the variety and age of the vines;
  • the elevation and light exposure of the grapes;
  • the expression of the terroir;
  • and the valuation of the wines.

All of these factors can vary from year to year.

The classification differs between wine regions

Not all regions have “Premier Cru” or “Grand Cru” designation. Only 5 of them have the “Grand Cru” AOP. These are Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon and Alsace. In Burgundy, Grands Crus are appellations in their own right, with much more stringent specifications.

It is also important to remember that not all Grand Crus are classified, as is the case with Maison Calvet’s Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. This exceptional red wine stands out with its unique terroir and has succeeded in maintaining its top ranking thanks to the quality of the grape varieties throughout its history. Not to be confused with Montagne Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion, which have completely different styles.

The Bordeaux Grands Crus: an exceptional vineyard area

Bordeaux, a terroir of grand crus world-renowned for their finesse and elegance, has many prestige châteaux classed as Grands Crus Classés.
Established at the behest of Napoleont in order to obtain a list of the finest Bordeaux wines, the Grand Cru designation allows wines to be classified in order of status and certifies their quality. The list includes many prestigious châteaux divided into 5 categories, from the Premiers Crus to Cinquièmes (Fifth) Crus. They can be white, red or sparkling.

In Bordeaux, each sub-region has its own classification, such as Saint-Emilion, Graves and Médoc wines.

The diversity of exposures and soils, combined with an ideal climate for growing vines, gives Bordeaux wines their richness and complexity. It was out of this same diversity that the concept of Grand Cru wine was born, its personality determined by the grower’s choices.

Maison Calvet became established in Bordeaux, a region synonymous with success, in the 1850s, before becoming a key Bordeaux trading house. Wine experts and enthusiasts can enjoy a stroll through the area’s most iconic appellations, including the Saint-Émilion Grand Cru AOP. Just like its terroir, this full and harmonious wine boasts dark fruit aromas and elegant tannins. A perfect Grand Cru to pair with your ribeye steak or a delicious chocolate fondant.

Burgundy: the Holy Grail of Grands Crus

With its 684 different climates, Burgundy offers a wonderful geographic variation of crus ranging from dry white, mineral Chablis to the whites and reds of the Côte d’Or. Produced on the best plots, these exceptional wines reflect their terroir and offer elegance, fruitiness and singularity. These world-renowned Grands Crus renowned are what make Burgundy so magnificent.

The Calvet family first took an interest in Burgundy wines in the 1880s. Octave Calvet went on to physically establish the company there by creating a subsidiary in Beaune.

A selection of Burgundy Grands Crus, such as Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé and Chambertin, went on to cement the reputation of Maison Calvet as a prestigious company. Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault-Genevrières and Puligny-Montrachet les Combettes are also among this selection of Côte-d’Or Grands Crus that make this beautiful region so famous.

The “Chablis Premier Cru” AOP attests to the excellence of this dry white wine, which, more than any other vineyard areas, has been able to maintain its top ranking thanks to its high-quality grape variety (chardonnay) throughout its history. It is a wine with a great deal of aromatic complexity, which stands out for its fineness and minerality.

The Rhône, renowned for its Crus

The Rhône valley – the birthplace of Maison Calvet – boasts a wide variety of terroirs and grape varieties. It is best known for the generosity of its characterful wines. Jean-Marie Calvet founded his trading company in 1818 in Tain l’Hermitage. Today, Maison Calvet offers several exceptional northern and southern Rhône crus. These include the garnet-coloured Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP or Vacqueyras AOP with its notes of red and black fruit lifted with sweet spices. There is also Gigondas AOP and Lirac AOP. Maison Calvet’s fame and prestige are built on this wide variety of ruby-red wines .

— Monday 16 October 2023 by Olivier