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HOW TO: Read a Champagne Label


As I begin to prepare for August's French Winophiles' event - hosted by Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog who has us focusing on Grower Champagne - I picked up a couple of bottles to test, taste, and pair. I know, I know: Life is rough for a food and wine blogger.


So, if you know only one thing about champagne, it's probably that it has to come from Champagne, the region in France. Anything else is sparkling wine. Don't get me wrong, there's lots and lots of good sparkling wine from Prosecco to Cremant and beyond. But this post is about reading a Champagne label and there's actually quite a bit of information to be gleaned from them.

Since I'm learning...I figured I'd share the knowledge with you. Here's how to read a Champagne label.... 


The appellation ‘Champagne’ must be clearly displayed. Yep.


...the brand of Champagne. This bottle was made by Louise Brison.


...the style of wine, as defined by level of sweetness or dosage, e.g., Brut, Demi-Sec, Sec, etc. This bottle was Brut.


...the bottle capacity - in L, cl, or mL. This bottle was 375 mL.


...the percentage of alcohol by volume. This bottle was 12.5% alcohol by volume.


...any allergen content such as sulphur dioxide, sulphites, etc. This bottle did contain sulfites.


...the warning about potential harm is required by certain countries including the US. The warning cautions against drinking while pregnant and drinking before driving.



...optional information that can be included at the producer’s discretion are the varietals used, date of disgorgement, and even suggested food-and-wine pairings. This bottle was made with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir grapes and disgorged on November 20, 2017.


So, here's the most interesting thing that I learned as I was trying to locate Grower Champagne. Martin and Jeff of FoodWineClick! reminded me to look for the 'RM'...and I could remember that if it had that, it was made by the grower as in 'faRMer.' That's a good way to remember.


This bottle is! RM-26720-01. That's the registration and code number issued by the Comité Champagne, preceded by two initials that indicate the category of producer.

  • NM for Négociant-Manipulant (entity or person that buys grapes, must, or wine to make Champagne on their own estate and sell it under their own imprint)
  • RM for Récoltant Manipulant (growers who make and sell Champagne under their own label, from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards and processed on their own estate)
  • CM for Coopérative de Manipulation (wine co-op that sells Champagne made from members’ grapes)
  • RC for Récoltant-Coopérateur (cooperative growers who sell co-op produced Champagne under their own label)
  • SR for Société de Récoltants (family of growers that make and sell Champagne under its own imprint, using grapes sourced from family vineyards)
  • ND for Négociant Distributeur (distributor who sells finished bottles made by someone else with his own label)
  • MA for Marque d’Acheteur (‘own brand’ label is produced exclusively for one client such as a single store or a celebrity or something like that)

That's it. I'm sure there's more to know. But, if you remember these things, you'll be able to purchase a bottle of Champagne with a little bit more knowledge than if you didn't. I know I feel more informed! Looking forward to continued Champagne testing and tasting for the #Winophiles event next month.

Comments

  1. important info -- clearly explained! I'm headed to Champagne next week-- so excited!

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