The word ‘Champagne’ should appear in prominent letters as well as ‘France’ or ‘Produce of France’ – this combination guarantees you that the bottle is genuine champagne.
The name of the producer or the brand (eg. ‘René Geoffroy’ or ‘Bollinger’).
The degree of dryness/sweetness (eg. ‘Brut’, ‘Extra Dry’ or ‘Demi-Sec’)
The village or town where the champagne was made (eg. ‘Cumières’ or ‘Aÿ’ or ‘Reims’).
The level of alcohol, which is usually ‘12% by vol’.
The size of the bottle (eg. ‘750mls’ (standard size) or ‘1.5L’ (magnum)).
A Question of Style
If it’s a vintage champagne, the year will be written somewhere on the front label.
If the champagne is a particular type (eg. ‘Blanc de Blancs’ or ‘Rosé’), this will be noted.
If the champagne is made solely from ‘Grand Cru’ or ‘Premier Cru’ grapes, this will also usually be highlighted on the label.
The importer’s name and location (eg. ‘red+white, Sydney’).
Where does your champagne come from?
Last but not least, the label will tell you what type of producer made this bottle of champagne, as shown below:
N-M négociant-manipulant – Champagne made by the large Champagne Houses that may own some vineyards themselves but most importantly are authorised to buy in grapes.
R-M recoltant-manipulant – Champagne made by small growers who use their own grapes and market it themselves (they can buy in up to five per cent of the grapes required).
C-M cooperative-manipulant – Champagne that is produced by the cooperatives and sold either under their own label or that of the ‘growers’.
R-C recoltant-cooperateur – Growers who remove their own bottles, bearing their own label, from the cooperative after it has made the wine.
M-A marque d’acheteur – Major buyers such as supermarkets or hotel chains whose name features on the label even though the wine was made by a cooperative or Champagne House.
N-D négociant-distributeur – Buyers who buy in finished champagne and then distribute it under their own name.
Considered a friend to family members of the top champagne houses in France and a great advocate for champagne internationally, Jayne Powell (known as Champagne Jayne) is a respected Australian independent reviewer and expert in champagne.She holds a BA honours degree with distinction in French language, the globally recognised WSET Intermediate and Advanced Certificates in wines and spirits and has studied champagne at the Institut International des Vins de Champagne in France. Jayne particularly enjoys facilitating nights of champagne ‘edu-tainment’ for her enterprise and private clients.
Limited edition signed copies of Jayne’s new book “Champagnes Behind The Bubbles” can be ordered from the website. To find out more, visit www.champagnejayne.com or follow Champagne Jayne on twitter – @champagnejayne