A ‘Champagne House’ is an agricultural and/or industrial and commercial business (but not exclusively agricultural) that commands the human and natural resources required to produce Grande Marque Champagne for distribution worldwide.
- The House buys in particular grape varieties and wine must from selected growths, purchasing from Growers with whom it enjoys long-standing relationships and usually making up the quantities with yields from its own vines.
- To create a cuvee, the House blends the still wines from the year (vins clairs) with the reserve wines held over from previous harvests. This is the traditional method of making Champagne — an exacting winemaking technique that guarantees a recognizable House style from year to year, delivering the quality that consumers have come to expect from their chosen Marque.
- The House makes and markets wine under its own label(s) for an international clientele. As a producer of Grande Marque Champagne wines, it is heir to a 300-year legacy of sparkling winemaking that has spread the name ‘Champagne’ around the world.
It is this control of the resources required for its production that sets Grande Marque Champagne apart from Négociant Champagne. It also qualifies a Champagne House for membership of the UMC – barely one hundred members in all, out of the many hundreds of négociant businesses registered with the CIVC.
As members of the UMC, these Champagne Houses possess a separate legal, financial and market status that distinguishes them from other Champagne producers. Considered ‘industrial and commercial entities’ they are subject to a very strict code of practice – one that effectively precludes membership (except as an ‘Associate Member’) of any business or its principal subsidiaries whose activities are exclusively agricultural (whether de facto or de jure).