What is a Grande Marque Champagne

What is a Grande Marque Champagne featured photo

The world of champagne is diverse, complex, and full of new terms to learn for wine lovers exploring it for the first time.

In this article we will answer the question “What is a Grande Marque Champagne” and whether it is different or better than other types of champagne.

What is a Grande Marque Champagne?

A Grande Marque Champagne is a champagne made by one of the major champagne houses, or Grandes Maisons, that have been historically designated as Grandes Marques, or “big brands” in French.

The houses which are considered Grandes Marques are larger champagne producers with globally known brands. They typically have a good reputation for quality, but the term doesn’t actually mean that Grandes Marques Champagnes have higher quality compared to other smaller champagne producers.

In reality, the designation of a Grande Marque House is more about international brand awareness than it is about a technical definition or quality standard.

How Many Champagne Grandes Marques Are There

How Many Champagne Grandes Marques Are There?

The specific term Grande Marque is used to describe champagne produced by a small number of prestigious houses located in the Champagne region of France.

Only 24 brands are categorized as Grande Marque, and they represent some of the most famous champagne makers.

Most of these houses have been around for several centuries, and overall their wines tend to be known for their quality, consistency, and aging potential.

Examples of Grande Marque Champagne Houses

Some of the most famous Grande Marque Champagne houses include:

– Veuve Clicquot

– Moët & Chandon

– Laurent-Perrier

– Bollinger

– Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck

– Pol Roger

These brands are known globally for their exceptional craftsmanship, and they are popular choices for champagne purchasers globally. 

You can find a full list of grande marque champagnes here.

Examples of Grande Marque Champagne Houses

Criteria for Champagne Grandes Marques

According to the Union des Maisons de Champagne, an association of well-known champagne houses, there are 10 criteria for Grandes Marques Champagne Houses.

In general, they need to have a global business strategy comprising production, marketing, and communication. They need to promote the champagne region, and they also need to participate and contribute to oenology research.

Additional criteria specific to certain marques include things like multi-year contracts with select growers, strict procedures for quality control during grape pressing, and large stocks of reserve wines. You can learn more about the Grandes Marques criteria here.

Cost of Grandes Marques Champagnes

When it comes to cost, Grande Marque Champagne can be relatively expensive compared to other types of champagne. You are likely to pay a premium for the prestige associated with these brands. However, most of these brands produce entry level champagnes in addition to their more expensive and prestigious special cuvees.

Cost of Grandes Marques Champagnes

What’s Different About Grande Marque Champagne

There is nothing fundamentally different about grande marque champagne compared to other champagne other than the criteria I described above. The type and quality of the grapes used (mainly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier), the method of production, and the resulting flavor profiles aren’t necessarily different from others in the champagne wine sector.

While some houses may claim features like unyielding customer loyalty or an infallible reputation over hundreds of years, it’s worth recognizing that this is partly marketing spin.

That said, the grande marque wines do tend to be more well known, more widely available, and often more consistent in their flavor profiles from year to year compared to some smaller producers.

Is Grande Marque Champagne Worth It?

As a huge fan of small grower champagnes, I don’t claim that the Grandes Marques always make the best champagnes.

However, the Champagne Grandes Marques are backed by big budgets, and by many decades or centuries of tradition and experience. The wines made by these houses have set the benchmark expectations for champagne styles and flavors, and they represent a great starting place to learn and explore the world of champagne. I certainly recommend tasting them to establish a good baseline for comparison to other champagnes you’ll try.

Some of my personal favorite grande marque labels are Bollinger, Ruinart, and Billecart-Salmon, and I often recommend them when asked about a great brand to try. All three make excellent wines consistently, and they are a great place to start tasting through the list of grandes marques. I’d be happy to drink these any day!

Is Grande Marque Champagne Worth It