What is grower producer Champagne?
Everything You Need to Know about Grower Champagne
There's never a bad time to drink Champagne. However, when we decide to pop a bottle of bubbles, we make sure that we’re drinking Grower Champagne! So if you're a little unsure what we're talking about, here's our guide to Everything You Need to Know About Grower Champagne.
Grower Champagne is a type of Champagne that is grown, vinified, and aged by a specific grape grower. This means that the winemaker cultivates the vineyards, harvests the fruit, and produces the wines with their own grapes. As a comparison, think of these wines as a single estate tea or fruit and veg you'd buy straight from the farmer.
There are three types of Champagne produced within the region: House (Maison), Cooperative (Co-op), and Single Estate (Grower Champagne). Houses are your big names, the likes of Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet for example. These brands make millions of bottles of year, hence their wide distribution and consumer recognition. In order to sustain such a wide production, these houses buy their fruit from thousands of different growers across various appellations.
Co-ops are a little more artisanal, in that these wines tend to be made within specific villages in Champagne. This means that the fruit that goes into co-op bottlings comes from in and around the village in which they’re produced, usually sourced from tens to hundreds of growers. At a co-op, there is generally one ‘chief winemaker’ in charge of vinifying and blending the final wines.
The major difference found between Co-ops and grower producers is simply the fruit that’s used. Grower Champagne producers have sight and control in regulating how the land is being cultivated. In a House/Cooperative situation, these brands aren’t usually doing the farming and are simply relying on external farmers to provide fruit for their use.
Another difference here is that House/Cooperative Champagne producers work with fruit from many different parcels and appellations, so are therefore able to alter their blends year after year to create a more consistent style profile amongst their wines. When it comes to Grower Champagne, these producers are working with the same parcels every year, which are always susceptible to a specific vintage’s climate and weather conditions, like any other small wine producer. This naturally creates vintage variation and what we believe is the true depiction of terroir.
There's a simple way of see whether a bottle of Champagne is from a grower producer. Every bottle of Champagne is marked with a specific set of letters. Here are four ways to identify your Champagne:
NM - Négociant Manipulant : This is the most common labelling of them all, signifying that 94% or more of the fruit was purchased from external growers. Most House Champagnes will show ‘NM’ on the label.
CM - Coopérative Manipulant : This signifies that one single co-op produced this wine from numerous regional growers’ fruit.
RM - Récoltant Manipulant : This labelling signifies that 95% or more of the fruit within the bottle was estate-grown and not purchased. AKA, RM = Grower Champagne.
RC - Récoltant Coopérateur : This means that a vigneron (grower-producer) grew their fruit but used a co-op facility to vinify and brand their wine.