Weekly Wine Quiz: When It Comes To Bubbly, Do You Know Your Letters?

Vinted on January 27, 2012 binned in wine appreciation, wine quiz

Continuing our Champagne theme for the Weekly Wine Quiz, we’ve got a relatively tough question queued up this week. Let’s see which of you Champers fans really knows his or her (or, if you’re a hermaphrodite, his AND her) stuff…

 When It Comes To Bubbly, Do You Know Your Letters?

Champagne production is one of the most highly-regulated in all of the wine world, with each bottle receiving a registration number for its producer issued by the region’s governing body, and each label receiving a designation code that represents how the wine was made. What Champagne label code signifies that a Champagne was produced independently by an individual estate / grape grower?

  • A. CM
  • B. MA
  • C. NM
  • D. RC
  • E. RM

As requested by you, the abnormally intelligent and good-looking 1WD readers, the answer will be forthcoming in the comments later. In the meantime, fire away if you think you know the answer (and want to show off your wine smarties)!

Cheers – and good luck!






  • Rafael

    RM recoltant manipulant

  • William Hughes


  • masi3v

    Beaten to the punch again. RM

  • Tobs


    • 1WineDude

      Tobs – creative! ;-)

  • 1WineDude

    Alright, smarties…

    Wine Quiz Answer: E. RM

    The small RM you can find on some Champagne labels stands for "Recoltant-Manipulants" and designates that the Champagne was made by an individual estate grape-grower, who produced the wine independently using a minimum of 95% of their own grapes.

    The other codes have meanings also, of course:
    NM = A Negociant-manipulant, or shipper, produced the Champagne from their own and from purchased grapes.
    CM = Cooperative de Manipulation, a Champagne produced by an association of growers who produce and market their wines collectively.
    RC = Recoltant-Cooperateur, a grower who produces Champagne at a Cooperative facility.
    MA = Marque d'Acheteur, Champagne sold by a third party who purchases it and rebrands it but isn't involved in its production.


  • Brian

    From my rapidly failing memory, I vaguely recall chatting to the excellent Philippe Brun on my last trip to Champagne and he was telling me that the code applies across all champagnes for a given Champagne House – he was lamenting the fact that while some of his Champagnes would be RM, as he also produces other Champagnes with grapes from other growers, so all his Champagnes must be labelled NM. Fact or Fiction? :-)

    • 1WineDude

      Gatt Boy! Fantastic question – I'm going to email some importers I know and see if that can be confirmed!

    • Joe Roberts

      I have finally received an answer to this! Much props to Fatcork.com and to champagnewarrior.com for helping on this one!!!

      "There is no easy answer for this as nothing is 100%. 
      The basics of the Champagne Producer categorization is that a producer only registers for one of the major types – NM, RM, CM.  So if you are 94% estate, all of your wines would be NM vs. a producer who is 95% estate and can claim RM status.  Roederer is a good example of this as their vintage wines are almost always 100% estate, yet all their wines are NM. 
      Where it gets a bit murkier, is in regards to RC, SR, ND, and MA labels.  It isn't that hard for a producer who is NM, RM, or CM to start a second label or register certain wines under one of these categories.  Well regarded grower Penet-Chardonnet in Verzy and Verzenay is a good example of this as Alexandre Penet uses his estate grapes in his RM Penet-Chardonnet line and selects and then has someone else make/bottle wines for him to sell under a non-estate ND label. 
      If you truly want to label your wines as some combination of NM and RM (or a CM too), it gets very complicated as you have to basically split operations, land, contracts and more.  It is costly and can cause havoc with French inheritance law.  Again, it can be done, but it is expensive, time consuming, and logistically painful – so much so as to discourage most.  From my perspective, as a small producer it is easier on all parties to become either an RM or NM and leave it at that.  If you really look into it, I think an NM gives you more benefit (even if you don't buy outside grapes) as it allows you to split up family property much more easily – there are a number of pure growers who have done this.  You end up with one half of the family "owning some grapes" and selling to the other half "who own some of the winery".  The only people I think could really make a go at splitting things up into NM and RM branches would be the big guys.  I've always wondered why LVMH doesn't split off a new label as an RM. 
      Overall, I think we get too caught up in the categories as there are good and bad wines from both growers and houses.  I would like to see more efforts made by producers to point out 100% estate wines, but then again, if you buy in grapes and have a long term contract where you take 100% care of the land and vines does it matter if you actually own it? 

      Brad Baker
      The Champagne Warrior http://www.champagnewarrior.com"

  • Gilbert Lara

    RM (meaning Récoltant-Manipulant)

    • 1WineDude

      Gilbert – correct! Though you're late to the party on the answer I'm afraid, so no bragging rights for you. :)

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