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News > TERRITORY 06.08.2020

Cru: meaning and origin

The term cru to indicate a wine is a small word, just three letters, but with a powerful evocative appeal and capable of unleashing the curiosity to learn more. In the language of oenology the term cru is often used: a French word that has become common even outside France where, however, it takes on different meanings.

In Italy, when we read the word cru in Italian wines, it is important to know that the term is not officially recognized by the oenological regulation in terms of labeling and communication of wines. The use of the word cru, in Italy, has a value and meaning that underlines the prestige of a wine or the value of a certain geographical area or a particular vineyard, and is used in an evocative, non-normative way. This does not remove the fact that this word calls attention and curiosity regarding the wine to which it refers. Certainly, cru wines are special in that they are produced in vineyards which, due to their position, exposure, history or geography, have characteristics that make them unique and, for this reason, noteworthy.

For example, Cantine Leonardo da Vinci indicates the wines of the Villa da Vinci collection as cru, since they are made with grapes produced from the vineyards surrounding the villa on the hills of Vinci and formerly owned by the Leonardo da Vinci family. These are vineyards with an important historical and cultural value, but also with a marked oenological vocation since they enjoy considerable exposure and a temperate microclimate.

In France, the term cru referring to a wine has a precise and different meaning compared to Italy. Cru is a past participle noun of the verb "croitre", which means "what grows in a region", and is used in the world of wine to indicate a particular vineyard that grows in a certain area and from which a wine is obtained particularly excellent.

The use of the term cru, in France, has ancient origins and seems to have been used for the first by the winemaking monks of Burgundy, who used this word to refer to the best vineyards of their possessions which were delimited by low walls in order to better recognize them. Each vineyard had a name, to which the term "cru" was added. In France, where the use of this term is regulated, there is a cru scale to indicate even more precisely and broaden the meaning of the term. It ranges from Premirs Crus (the wines made from the best vineyards) to descending: Deuxièmes Crus, Troisièmes Crus, Quatrièmes Crus, Cinquièmes Crus and so on.