Grand Cru [pronunciation: gran croo]
Villages classified at the top of the (now non-existent) échelle des crus, which was a hierarchical classification wherein each village of Champagne was awarded a certain number of points based on specific criteria such as vineyard area, vineyard classification, historical quality, and vineyard prices. The higher the number of points, the higher the rank of the village. This, in turn, determined the resulting price of grapes.
There are 17 Grand Cru villages in Champagne—Ambonnay, Avize, Aÿ, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Chouilly, Cramant, Louvois, Mailly-Champagne, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Oiry, Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay and Verzy—and although the échelle des crus has been abolished, the terms Grand Cru and Premier Cru are still officially used, and these villages continue to enjoy a high level of prestige.
Note that in Champagne, the term Grand Cru indicates a classification by village, and not by vineyard (as in Burgundy). In order to label a wine as such, it must be sourced entirely from vineyards in Grand Cru villages.