Fancy Name or RM when you go shopping for bubbles?

When you buy Champagne, do you tend to go for the fancy name, or branch out and try some RMs that you may not even be familiar with.

In recent times, I’ve tended toward the RMs.

(1) They are more interesting.
(2) A good local importer will steer you in the right direction.
(3) You’ll drink better at in the $60 range than others are drinking in the $100+ range.
(4) I’m generally trying to delight my own palate, and not impress others with a label.
(5) If I am trying to delight others with taste, they are generally surprised.


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1 Like

Well, that’s 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.


If I can find one, I go for a label that’s newly distributed in my area and trying to establish itself. That generally means better wine at whatever price point.


Every bottle of Champagne will have a type of number on the label identifying the producer/brand. These are each proceeded by two initials, as follows:

  • NMNégociant Manipulant, responsible the majority of Champagne produced, houses that not only grow grapes, but typically buy in grapes and (sometimes) buy wine sur latte, the potential result ca be a huge variation in quality - not all bad. Think Moët & Chandon, Verve Clicquot, Louis Roederer, Perrier-Jouët, Taittinger, Bollinger, etc.

  • RMRécoltant Manipulant, a grower who makes Champagne out of their own grapes which includes some outstanding (quality) wines, some very good (value) wines, and some which are pretty dire. Think Pierre Peters, Chartogne-Taillet, A. Margaine, Egly-Ouriet, Jacques Selosse, etc.

  • CM - Cave-Coopérative Manipulant, not usually great but can be excellent. H. Blin can make some excellent vintage champagne, Jacquart have some good cuvees, Beaumont des Crayères can be a good buy, etc., etc. Mailly is an example of a Champagne sold under the name of the co-op, but most – like the Union Champagne – have a number of different brands in their portfolio, and/or will sell wines under a private label for a retail store/wine merchant.

  • RCRécoltant Co-opérateur, someone who’s a member of a co-op and buys back wine from them to sell under their own label. An example of this would be Champagne Lechère, which makes the “Cuvée Orient Express” at the aforementioned co-op, Union Champagne, located at Avize.

Note the NM number in small print at the bottom-right of the label.

Note the RM number in small print right above “PRODUCT OF FRANCE”


I tend to buy a) what’s good¹, regardless of the initials in fine print on the label, and b) what is (reasonably) affordable; it also c) depends upon the occasion.

What that translates to is that I do have certain favorite producers, and it’s irrelevant to me whether they are NM, RM, CM, or RD’s . . . as long as I like what’s in the bottle – and it suits what I’m in the mood for (Blanc de Blancs, Brut Rosé, full bodied, light bodied, tête de cuvée, etc., etc.). So for example, my favorite Brut Rosé remains Billecart-Salmon (an “NM”), while my favorite Brut BdB is Pierre Peters (an “RM”).

But I see no reason whatsoever in spending the proverbial beaucoups bucks on fancy labels (think Jay-Z’s total bull$#|+ Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne) when there are umpteen labels which are better and less expensive . . .

OTOH, if the bottle is for someone else – as, say, a birthday present – the question becomes: will they appreciate the wine within the bottle, or would they be more impressed with the label? Even then, I’d stick with something like Moët & Chandon’s “Cuvée Dom Pérignon,” or Taittinger’s “Comte de Champagne” over anything so ridiculous as the “Ace of Spades”!


Now, one thing you may not know – or perhaps you do; I have no idea – is that, having spent most of my life in the wine trade, it’s probably reasonably safe to presume that I have tried any number of “Grower Champagnes” aka “Farmer’s Fizz” aka Récoltant-Manipulant (“RM’s”). I do not for a moment want to suggest that I’ve tried them all, or are familiar with all of them, but I’ve probably at some point tried a majority of those labels brought into the U.S.

Overall, it is true that I tend to buy more récoltant manipulant (grower) Champagnes than I do from the large producers (négociant manipulant).

¹ Though, I’ll confess “good” is an understatement; I find I have little patience for wines which are merely “good.”


“The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands…”


Every bottle of Champagne will have a type of number on the label identifying the producer/brand. These are each proceeded by two initials, as follows:

Cher monsieur, je suis très reconnaissant de vôtre aide.
À la vôtre!

But wouldn’t that be R M I . . .


Mais bien sûr, il est de mon plaisir et l’honneur d’être de l’aide . . .

Thanks! I was wondering too