fbpx

Wine Wednesdays With William: Navigating The Bubbly Waters Of Champagne

'saratoga living' wine expert William Roach on the market for the popular wine—and how to tell the difference between its brands.

Champagne
(Didriks/Flickr)

Exactly half of champagne sales are made in export markets and half in France. Outside of France, the champagne market’s dominated by well-known brands, such Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Krug, Ruinart and Mercier, which are all owned by luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), which also owns, inter alia, Dior, Givenchy, Céline and TAG Heuer. These well-known champagne houses, along with the likes of Bollinger, Taittinger and Pol Roger are known as “Grandes Marques” (major labels) and account for 88 percent of the champagne sold in export markets.

In France, by contrast, the brands have barely half the market.

As wine consumers outside France have become more adventurous, they have become more like the French, willing to buy champagne made in cooperative wineries, or by the farmer that grew the grapes, and happy to forego the reassurance implied in the big brands. That is certainly the case in the United States.

In small print, usually on the front label, is an abbreviation that identifies which type of producer is responsible for the champagne in the bottle. The most common abbreviation is NM (Négociant manipulant). These producers buy grapes and make wine, and most of the big brands fall into this category. CM stands for “Coopérative de manipulation,” and the wine will have been made in a cooperative winery whose members grew the grapes. The third and most interesting category employs the abbreviation RM (Récoltant manipulant). This is also known as Grower Champagne and identifies the wine as being made by the same people who grew the grapes, often in a single vineyard or from a single village. This emphasis on “place” and artisanal winemaking strikes a contemporary chord such that the popularity of these wines is expected to increase further.

Wine Challenge No.16:
Try this test of a good wine store, suggested by former Wine Editor and Chief Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné in his best-selling The New Wine Rules, published last year: “Champagne is the wine with perhaps the clearest split between big corporate names and little ones. So, (unless you are a wine geek) if you walk into a wine shop and recognize more than half the Champagne brands on the shelf, keep going.”


Can’t get enough wine wisdom from William? Read last week’s column here.

William Roach
William Roach

William was born in London, England, where he wrote and produced TV programs. He's married to Catharine Hamilton who, with her sister, owns Putnam Market on Broadway. William runs The Wine Room at Putnam Market where he teaches wine classes for The Wine & Spirits Education Trust.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

ABOUT US

Welcome to the new saratoga living, the premier lifestyle media company in Saratoga
Springs, and the heart of New York’s Capital Region. At saratoga living, we celebrate
the extraordinary, the can-do spirit and the undeniable magic that our beautiful city is
globally known for.

saratoga living magazine publishes eight times a year. saratogaliving.com re-launched
on February 8, 2018. Like our page on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and
Twitter @saratogaliving. The magazine is printed in Saratoga Springs, NY, USA.

The Voux magazine theme

THE CITY. THE CULTURE. THE LIFE.

FOLLOW US ON

For saratoga living‘s Submission Guidelines,
click here.

CONTACT US

All editorial queries should be directed to editorial@saratogaliving.com; or sent to 422 Broadway, Suite 203, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. saratoga living assumes no
responsibility for unsolicited submissions. Printed in Saratoga Springs, NY, USA. You can give us a call at 518-584-7500.

For advertising inquiries, contact advertising@saratogaliving.com. For magazine subscriptions and to purchase back issues, contact subscribe@saratogaliving.com.

We invite any and all party pics from Saratoga Springs and the surrounding areas for possible inclusion on saratogaliving.com. Please email photos to lastnight@saratogaliving.com.