Champagne is the world’s finest sparkling wine. Luxury Champagne labels command eye-watering prices, and the big brands are known far and wide. Massive Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon, Louis Roederer and Pommery dominate the market. The big Maisons de Champagne rule the roost, but they’re not the only game in town: Grower Champagne is increasingly popular among sparkling wine lovers.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of Champagne producer. You’ve got the big Champagne houses as mentioned above, co-operatives that make wine on behalf of member growers from a particular region, and growers that produce their own Champagne from their own grapes. Growers produce Grower Champagne, which is like craft Champagne or artisanal Champagne.
How to spot a Grower Champagne
The official French term for this type of producer is Récoltant Manipulant (RM). Grower Champagnes will bear the initials “RM” on the bottle, allowing you to quickly identify them. Some other initials that you might see are:
- “NM”, short for Négociant Manipulant. These wines are produced by large companies that buy grapes from growers rather than growing their own.
- “CM”, “RC” or “SR” indicate that the Champagne has been made by a co-operative.
The appeal of Grower Champagne
Grower Champagne is popular among wine lovers, and for several good reasons.
- The wines are usually great. Champagne houses and co-operatives certainly produce great sparkling wine, though in most cases these are large companies and the wines are established brands. Most of the houses themselves are luxury brands, too. As such, there is a lot of pressure for the wines to adhere to a brand or house style. Careful blending ensures that there is a broadly homogenous style, year in and year out. By no means is this a bad thing, but it means that the wines express the style of the brand as opposed to the character of their place of origin. Not so with Grower Champagne, which is truly an expression of its terroir: Each release from each producer is a unique and genuine taste of the soils, climate and other conditions which gave rise to the wine. Individual producers have very distinctive styles and are must-try wines for adventurous wine drinkers!
- Growers tend to be small, family-run operations. Consumers today really appreciate the human story behind their food and drink, from vegetables and meat to coffee and, of course, wine. Fans of Grower Champagne can appreciate the personal and human touch behind these delicious sparklers!
Some Grower Champagne to try
There are many options out there for top-notch Grower Champagnes, so we’ve picked out a couple of our favourites to get you started:
- Champagne de Sousa 3A, a non-vintage Champagne whose name refers to the three Grand Cru Champagne villages where the de Sousa family have plots – Avize, Aÿ and Ambonnay.
- Egly Ouriet Rosé Grand Cru is a non-vintage rosé from the eminent Grower Champagne Egly Ouriet. This maker is incredibly popular in the discerning US market, and is considered one of the top growers.
- Egly Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes, from the same grower as above, is a beautiful Blanc de Noirs (a white Champagne made entirely from red grapes), is a top quality bottle and comes highly recommended from Robert Parker (92 points) and Antonio Galloni at Vinous (94 points).
What is your favourite Grower Champagne? Share your recommendations with us!