Once upon a time pretty much all Champagne sold in the US was produced by big houses that bought grapes and wine from others to make their blends. They are known as Negociants. Not too long ago, the farmers growing these grapes got an idea. They thought it might be in their best interest to make some wine themselves, see if they could sell it and make a little more money. A movement was born: Farmer Fizz, also known as Grower or Grower-Producer Champagne.
The beauty of Grower Champagne is that the wines come from a single plot or plots of land. Year in and year out, the wines are produced by the same folks, using the same techniques so the character of the wine comes from the terroir and the climate as opposed to the blender's art. Whether you prefer one style over another is not something I’m going to take issue with, but if you want to compare styles you’ll need to the following code.
On each label of Champagne you’ll find a small alphanumeric code. The first two digits of this code will tell you what sort of an operation is responsible for your fizz.
NM = Négociant manipulant – Someone who buys grapes to make their wine.
CM = Coopérative de manipulation- A co-op that producers wines from member’s grapes and sells it under on label.
RM - = Récoltant manipulant. – The grower producer who makes wine from their own grapes.
SR=- Société de récoltants. – A group of growers who make wine together but sell them under more than one brand
RC = Récoltant coopérateur- A Co-op member selling Co-op produced champagne under his or her own label
MA = Marque auxiliaire or Marque d'acheteur – A brand name, or private label, not related to the producer
ND = Négociant distributeur – A company that sells Champagne that it does not make under it’s own brand.