Definition - What does Grand Cru mean?
The Grand cru wine ranking originates from the Wine Classification of 1855 by order of Emperor Napoleon III. He believed that wines of recognition and long-standing reputations should undergo a certain classification.
The term Grand cru refers to the classification of a vineyard which is known for maintaining a consistent reputation year after year for producing quality wines. While other "cru" terminology for classification often refers to specific wines and wine estates, Grand Cru status focuses more on the vineyard and the uniqueness of terroir. The classification began mainly in Bordeaux, however Burgundy and Alsace also utilize this status classification. In some regions, the Grand Cru status can represent the best of an entire region, with Primier Cru status following second, in some regions, this is not always the case.
WineFrog explains Grand Cru
The terminology of Grand cru did start in France, however, cru status also exists in Germany, often referred to as top grapes which produce quality wines. In certain regions, like that of Alsace in France, as in Germany, there are only specific grapes for wines which can achieve cru or Grand Cru status.
Throughout other parts of the world, Grand cru may be found on a label of wine. There may be no official governing body that is to say a certain vineyard, estate or grape can be given this title. Typically these are wines from a special single vineyard designation or a wine (sometimes blend) which is traditionally made as their signature high-end wine, or a wine which has been made in an exceptional vintage or in limited quantity.