Just announced, Amusée is launching a whole new CONTENT CALENDAR loaded with a slew of Fun New Wine Stuff for your enjoyment…
As promised, today is the THIRD MONDAY of the MONTH, so today is #ManicMondays with my friend Chuck from Solo Vino Wines! Look for his new monthly column with Amusée, as he gives you the 4-1-1 from the retail world of wine. Here’s his first piece:
So what’s the deal with ‘Farmer Fizz’?
So every year we decide that bubbles is the way to go for the Holiday’s. Some of us drink this magical wine year round but most of us associate it with Holiday’s, birthdays, and celebrations of any sort. Sparkling wine is the larger umbrella under which Cava, Prosecco, Franciacorta, Cremant de (fill in the blank) and many other ‘bottle fermented’ wines sit under. The champion of them all is Champagne from France. I believe that current value of land in Champagne, if you are privileged to have some with grapes, is a whopping one million dollars per hectare…crazy!
Before we travel to far down the rabbit hole I’d like to make an important declaration. Beer & liquor are industrial products and wine by definition is an agricultural product. This is a very important distinction. Beer and liquor production is meant to be consistent from bottle to bottle. The publics’ expectation is that it will be the same as it was the last time. Wine is meant to reflect the changing harvest conditions from year to year.
So back to bubbles and the Holiday Season. This year I want to send everyone on a bit of a treasure hunt. The treasure you seek is Grower Champagne…the bottles with a RM coding on the label. Now according to French wine law in Champagne all bottles must be identified with one of the following codes…
N.M. (Négociant Manipulant): Most of the well-known brands fall into this category. They are Champagne houses or shipper, who buy grapes in bulk to make their own Champagne.
R.M. (Récoltant Manipulant): This grower who grows his own grapes to make his own Champagne. He may also sell grapes to others, and also buy in a proportion of grapes to augment his own production.
C.M. (Coopérative de Manipulation): A group or cooperative of growers who produce Champagne under their own brand name(s).
R.C. (Récoltant Co-opérateur): A co-operative member who sells a co-operative produced Champagne under his own brand name with the help of a cooperative.
S.R. (Société Récoltantes): An association of a number of growers who pool their resources, but who are not a co-operative.
N.D. (Négocant Distributeur): A merchant that sells wine from other producers under his own brand.
M.A. (Marque d’Acheteur): Buyer’s own brand. This is an “own label” name owned by a third party, supermarket or wine merchant, and the Champagne will be made for them by one of the above.
The US market today consists of one company, which owns two of the largest champagne houses. They are Veuve Cliquot & Moet Chandon and they account for about 55% of all champagne purchased domestically. Now that’s a lot of bubbles. When a company produces’ millions of cases of Veuve Yellow Label & White Star they have to have a consistent style, product to showcase. Sounds a bit like an industrial product?? That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. This is the corner of the market that they created and now have to serve; they really have no other choice. In order to keep a tight hold on the market the big houses have to continue to kick out more and more of the same, carbon copy, wine so as not to lose market share.
Now the smaller, privately owned champagne houses (RM Codes) they also have a problem with market share…they currently have less than 4% in the US. The great news is that they have been growing significantly in the last three years. Today we actually have a large selection of labels to choose from. These small producers are creating amazing champagnes with so much personality it’s almost like having another person sitting at the table with you.
Here are some producers to search for…
One of our local wine wholesalers is having an event this coming January. It’s a wonderful chance to taste ALL of the Gower Champagne houses listed above.
So now that we know what ‘treasure’ we are looking for let the hunt may begin!
Happy Holidays everyone.
Chuck, Solo Vino