Farmer Fizz: How Grower Champagnes Are Changing the Game

IMAGE Pat Martires

For a very long time, I never really thought about where my Champagne came from.  Style, yes. Terroir, no. Négotiant vs. récoltant? Never. I’ll be the first to admit that when presented with a cool, crisp, effervescent, and mineral-rich glass of bubbly in the past, I wasn’t doing much thinking—and the last thing on my mind at the time was how the glorious sparkling white wine that I was about to sip came to be. But oh, how things change. These days, it’s Champagne’s backstory that fascinates me most, and although we all know that quality is still ultimately found in the wine, not the story, this shift in conscience and the pervasive dialogue of who grows what and where has many a wine connoisseur rife with curiosity.

Finally receiving the recognition it deserves, grower champagnes are the region’s new superstars, offering the personality of the appellation’s terroir like never before. While the larger houses or Grand Marques still make some of the finest bottles and have done an excellent job at marketing the region, the likes of Möet et Chandon, Louis Roederer, Veuve Clicquot, and Bollinger do not grow most of their own grapes and instead source the chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier they need for their signature cuvées. This has made the central story of their Champagnes revolve around their individual house styles instead of the terroir and it is precisely the reason that they are constantly aiming for consistency in their wines.


Grower Champagnes, on the other hand, are made solely by vignerons that farm their own vineyards, often solely from one village or single plot of land, and always by producers that harvest their own fruit. While these grower-producers may employ the idea of a house style in their wine-making philosophy, their Champagnes promote a strong sense of place and are made primarily with the intention of expressing the personality of the land from which it came. Despite their growing popularity, grower champagnes still only represent only a fraction of the wines produced in the region. The self-defining restriction of being able to produce solely from one’s own vineyard paired with the high cost of production make it difficult for them to compete with the larger maisons and co-op producers. This new category of producers, however, has added value to the wine production of the entire appellation as rarer wines tend to be more revered and more collectible.

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In most wine regions, the grower Champagne story would not be considered unique, and is pretty much the norm, but in Champagne, where the larger houses have dominated both the production and sales for decades, the proliferation and popularity of grower champagnes has added a welcome layer of complexity and dimension to Champagne’s story.

What You Should Know

How can we tell if a Champagne is produced by a grower-producer?
The initials RM for récoltant manipulant, or grower maker, should be indicated on the bottle’s label, as opposed to NM for négociant manipulant, or one that buys its grapes to make its wine.

What can I do to further my enjoyment when drinking Champagne?
The correct serving temperature is of utmost importance when enjoying any wine and Champagnes are no exception. Most sommeliers will recommend that Champagne be served at 9 degrees Celsius. However, some grower-makers recommend serving their wines a bit warmer, from 12-14 degrees Celsius, to fully appreciate the taste and flavors.

The choice of glassware is also a very important factor when serving Champagne. Although the tall and elegant flute has been the glass of choice for many, most enthusiasts will insist that Champagne is best sipped from a white wine glass in order to fully appreciate the wine’s nuances and complexities. While flutes may help preserve Champagne’s bubbles, they do not allow the wine to breathe or the wine’s bouquets to reveal itself. They also do not allow for drinker to experience the wine’s rich, unique flavors and mouth feel. 


What is the perfect food pairing for Champagne?
When it comes to pairing wine and food, Champagne is arguably the most versatile wine there is and can be enjoyed with practically anything. From extended and elaborate gourmet degustacions to popcorn to oysters, hot dogs, and even with crispy pata and sisig, Champagne is an excellent choice.

Our Recommendations

Bubbly from Delamotte, Egly-Ouriet, Guy Charlemagne, Pierre Gimmonet & Fils, Uylsse Collin

Agrapart & Fils
Artisan Cellar Door, Narra Building, 2276 Chino Roces Extension, Makati, 880.0618, 0929.325.3430

Premium Wine Exchange, Ground Floor Smith Bell Building, 2294 Don Chino Roces Extension, Makati, 812.3823

Diebolt Vallois
Artisan Cellar Door

Premium Wine Exchange

Guy Charlemagne
Artisan Cellar Door

Premium Wine Exchange

Premium Wine Exchange

Pierre Gimmonet & Fils
Artisan Cellar Door

Pierre Peters
Premium Wine Exchange

Ulysse Collin
Premium Wine Exchange

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Alicia Colby Sy
Alicia Colby Sy is the former Executive Editor of Town & Country Philippines.
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