The echélle des crus is the former official crus scale of Champagne. The vine-growing villages were (and still de facto are) scaled according to the quality of their grapes. The ranking was based on the type of subsoil, slopes gradient, and sun exposure. The classification was developed in the mid-20th century to set the price of grapes grown in each village. A percentile system-the Échelle des Crus-acted as a pro-rata system for determining individual grape prices, based on a predetermined “full” price. The scale was originally conceived as a 1-100 point scale, but it evolved, and eventually, the lowest-rated villages, the simpler crus, were rated at 80%, up to 89%. Premier crus villages were rated between 90% and 99%, while the highest rated villages, the grands crus, were rated 100%. Villages with high ratings would receive higher prices for their grapes than vineyards located in villages with a lower rating. The percentage pricing system has been abandoned in the 21st century, and the Échelle des Crus was officially abolished in 2010, and the classification has actually no legal meaning. But it is still assumed that the higher the scaling of the grapes used to produce champagne, the better–and costly–it will be.
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