Premier Cru

What Is Premier Cru Wine? 10 Fine Premier Cru Bottles For Your Collection (2024)

by Anthony Zhang

Premier Cru” is a common term seen on the wine label of a French wine bottle.

It roughly translates to “first growth” and indicates the superior terroir of a vineyard. The finer terroir of a Premier Cru vineyard, in turn, indicates a wine with a distinguished complexity.

However, the term “Premier Cru” indicates different levels of classification, especially in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

So, let’s find out how the term differs in various French wine regions. We’ll also discover 10 exotic Premier Cru bottles to buy in 2024 and their investment potential.

We’ll also take a sneak peek into the wine classifications of other Old World wine regions.

Further reading

Premier Cru Classification In France

Here’s how the term differs in different French wine regions.

A. Bordeaux 

Chateau Haut Brion

The Bordeaux wine classification was formed in 1855, during the Exposition Universelle de Paris. It categorized the Bordeaux châteaux as Premier, Deuxieme, Troisièmes, Quatrièmes, and Cinquièmes crus, based on the wine quality. 

Only four chateaux were awarded the prestigious Premier Cru status. However, Chateau Mouton Rothschild gained Premier Cru status in 1973.

Today, the Bordeaux classification has five Premier Cru producers:

The original classification also classed 9 Sauternes and Barsac chateaux as Premier Cru. Chateau d’Yquem was granted the status of Premier Cru Superieur.

Each of these wine estates houses Premier Cru vineyards with exceptional terroirs. Their wines are priced higher than most other Bordeaux bottles.

However, the classification doesn’t include every Bordeaux appellation. So, there are a few other classification systems in Bordeaux. 

  • Graves: Graves gave 16 of its red and white wines special status.
  • St Emilion: St Emilion updates its classification every 10 years, constantly promoting and demoting chateaux according to wine quality. The highest quality wines are designated with the Premier Grand Classe A and Premier Grand Cru Classe B status.
  • Pomerol: Pomerol is the only Bordeaux appellation that stayed away from any classification. Some of its chateaux are the most prestigious ones in France, including Petrus, Lafleur, and Le Pin.

B. Burgundy Wine Classification

Premier Cru

Taking the example of the Bordeaux wine classification, French scientist Jules Lavalle, proposed an informal Burgundian wine classification in his book “History and Statistics of the Cote d'Or.” 

In 1861, the Beaune Committee of Agriculture formalized Lavalle’s Cote d’Or classification. In 1930, Grand Cru and Premier Cru were added to it.

Here’s the hierarchy of Burgundy wine classification:

  • Grand Cru 
  • Premier Cru
  • Village Wines
  • Bourgogne Wines

The Premier Cru wines are a little less expensive than the Grand Crus.

The 33 Grand Crus are either planted with Pinot Noir or the Chardonnay grape, so the single-vineyard wines reflect the unique characteristics of each climat or vineyard.

The Burgundian Chablis Premier Cru wines are one of the most investment-worthy white wines in the world.

C. Champagne

Cristal Champagne

Champagne follows the “Échelle des Crus” system that, instead of vineyards, classifies the region’s villages.

Majorly, there are two classes of Champagne:

  • Grand Cru Champagne: Produced from the fruit of Grand Cru villages
  • Premier Cru Champagne: Produced from the fruit of Premier Cru villages

So, if you’re looking for an exceptionally refined Champagne, then go for a Grand Cru wine.

Most Grand and Premier Cru vineyards comprise Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay vine plantings. However, some producers also plant other Champagne grapes like Petit Meslier.

D. Classifications In Other French Wine Regions

Here’s a quick rundown of wine classification in two other French regions.

  • Alsace: Alsace follows the Burgundian wine classification system, with the Grand Cru wine being the most superior.
  • Beaujolais: Like Champagne, Beaujolais uses “cru” to describe a village instead of a vineyard. Wines from these villages are called cru Beaujolais.

Want to know the perfect 1er cru bottle to buy on your next visit to a winery or wine bar?

10 Fine Premier Cru Wines To Add To Your Collection

Here are 10 luscious 1er cru wines you need to add to your collection:

1. 2010 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac ($1,347)

2010 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac

This excellent Bordeaux wine is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot grape varieties. 

It has a rich, full, and fleshy palate with chocolate, mocha, cedar, and charcoal aromas.

2. 2009 Chateau Latour, Pauillac ($1,593)

2009 Chateau Latour, Pauillac

This deep garnet wine is beautifully youthful and bold with its blackcurrant, black cherry, and plum notes. Full and concentrated on the palate, this wine needs time to express itself.

3. 2015 Chateau Margaux, Margaux ($1,980)

2015 Chateau Margaux, Margaux

The 2015 Chateau Margaux has a seductive and warm aroma of blackberry, cassis, and black forest cake. It has nuances and forest floor, pear, anise, and cigar that will develop as it ages.

4. 2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac ($2,591)

2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac

This Bordeaux wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot grape varieties. 

It gives off black forest cake, dried mulberry, kirsch, and black currant aromas on the nose. The palate is medium to full-bodied with muscular fruit flavor and seamless freshness.

5. 2010 Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan ($1,094)

2010 Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan

The 2010 Chateau Haut-Brion has an intense aroma of pencil shavings and chocolate. With extraordinary depth on the palate, the wine has brilliant tannin and acidity.

6. 2011 Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Folatieres, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru ($12,602)

2011 Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Folatieres, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru

This 1er cru wine has striking aromatics of dried white flowers and wet pavement. The vibrant palate has a fine tension and citrus flavor - a perfect gift for Christmas.

7. 2015 Domaine Leroy Aux Brulees, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru ($9,375)

2015 Domaine Leroy Aux Brulees, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru

The 2015 Domaine Leroy Premier Cru is a brilliant wine slowly developing complex oak and earthy notes. Opulent black fruit notes dominate the palate, accompanied by a classy elegance.

8. 2010 Vilmart & Cie 'Coeur de Cuvee' Premier Cru Brut, Champagne 

2010 Vilmart & Cie 'Coeur de Cuvee' Premier Cru Brut, Champagne

Produced from the blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties, this Premier Cru Champagne showcases a fabulous richness and rich pear, peach, and vanilla notes with a lemon freshness.

9. 2015 Domaine Leroy Les Beaux Monts, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru ($8,417)

2015 Domaine Leroy Les Beaux Monts, Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru

This Premier Cru has a deep bouquet of black fruit, cherry, hoisin, spice, and cassis. The palate has a long, saline finish.

10. 2015 Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Les Amoureuses, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru ($5,656)

2015 Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Les Amoureuses, Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru

This Burgundy wine opens with white flowers and fruit aromas. The palate is silky, delicate, and precise. 

Investing In Premier Cru Wines

Premier Cru Wine Investment

The French Premier cru wines are some of the most cellar-worthy wines in the world. 

The Bordeaux first growths continue to age gracefully for 20-50+ years, while Burgundy wines can age for 10-15+ years.

Premier Cru wines reflect the incomparable soils, climate, and winemaking practices of the region. 

Naturally, these wines command high prices at auctions as well. For example, in December 2020, 6 Chateau Latour magnums were sold for $141,355 at the Christie’s London Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits auction - double the estimated price.

They also show commendable price appreciations. For example, the price of 2014 Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Folatieres white Burgundy wine grew from $2,746 to $9,811 from 2020 to ‘21, an eye-popping growth of 257%.

However, when buying such sought-after, expensive wines, you need to ensure the authenticity of the bottle. 

A trusted wine investment company can help you buy authentic Premier Cru wines, store them in temperature-controlled warehouses, and help you sell them for a profit.

The concept of classifying wines is not limited to France.

Wine Classifications In Other Old World Wine Regions

Premier Cru Margaux

The notion of granting wines superior statuses have existed since Roman times. Here’s just two examples of how the other Old World wine regions adopted it.

A. Italy

The wine regions of Italy like Piedmont and Sicily have mapped out their Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards.

The four DOCG classifications include:

  • Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
  • Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
  • Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)
  • Vino de Tavola (Table Wine)

B. Germany

In Germany, the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), an association of elite German wine estates, follows a similar classification system to Burgundy.

  • Grosse Lage (Grand Cru), 
  • Erste Lage (Premier Cru)
  • Ortswein (Village) 
  • Gutswein (Regional)

Add A Fine Premier Cru Bottle To Your Collection

Premier Cru Champagne

Besides tasting exotic, a bottle of fine Premier Cru wine would add value to any wine collection.

Visit the Vinovest website to discover the world of investment-grade wines. Sign up today to add a reserve wine or a Grand Cru wine to your collection.

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