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Simply put, there are three groups in Champagne: 15000+ growers, 100 cooperatives, 300 Houses. The latter is responsible for the majority of the export.
Négociant-Manipulants (NM) are the big houses, like Moet & Chandon, Krug and Bollinger. Les grandes marques. In total, there are 300 houses in Champagne that sell under 1200 brand names. Together, they dominate the market and account for 70% of all champagne sales and 90% of the export sales. In terms of vineyard ownership, they are a lot smaller – only 10% of the vineyards is owned by the houses. Louis Roederer, with 220 hectare, is one of the largest owners by vineyard area.
Growers are the most artisan, they own vineyards and make their own champagne from their own grapes. Some of them work together with a cooperative, because they don’t have the funds to purchase the equipment. In total, there are 15000 growers of which roughly a third sells under their own label. Together, the growers own 90% of the vineyard area and account for 22% of the total sales. They rely on the sale of grape to the houses.
Récoltant-Manipulant (RM) is a grower who produce champagne from her own grapes. A grower is allowed to buy 5% of her turnover from other growers. Why only 5%? It was introduced to enable growers with exclusively chardonnay to buy red grapes and make a rosé champagne. The grower group and grower champagne is becoming increasingly popular.
Société de Recoltants (SR) are two or more growers who share the same production facility to make their own wine from their own grapes.
Récoltant-Coopérateur (RC) is a grower who sells her own wine from her own grapes, made by cooperative.
The majority of the growers are members of cooperatives. These are involved in the handling and trading of the components of champagne, like grapes, must, base wines or even finished wines.
Coopérative-Manipulant (CM) is the commercial cooperative that is involved in the entire production process and sell the wine under its own label, like Nicholas Feuillatte.
Brokers and brands
Brokers are middle-men, they don’t produce wine, but just sell finished wine (Négociant Distributeur) under their own label or under the label of a restaurant or wholesaler (Marque d’Acheteur)
Comité Champagne (CIVC) is the trade association for Champagne. It is involved in the promotion and protection of the Champagne AOC across the world. It was one of the first-ever regional wine committees created in France and was founded in 1941.
Syndicat Général des Vigneros de la Champagne (SVG) was founded in 1904 and provides business support to growers. ‘Les Champagnes de Vignerons’ was introduced in 2001 by the SGV to promote the image of Grower Champagnes. The brand represents 5000 growers and grower cooperatives.
Fédération des Coopératives de la Champagne is a group of 132 cooperatives, representing 70% of the region.
Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) is the union of the grandes marques, the big brands of Champagne. Together, they represent 90% of the export market. Founded in 1882. The UMC played a crucial role in the protection of the name ‘champagne’. The union prosecuted anyone who misused the name ‘Champagne’, whether in France or abroad, and it invariably won its case.
Sources & suggested reading:
- Tom Stevenson & Essi Avalan – The World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wines
- Champagne.fr – Growers