There’s something nice about an invitation with a splash of red on it.
It’s rarely bad news.
Especially if it’s an invitation to taste champagne.
You will see touches of red on more than one champagne label but none wears le rouge more proudly than G.H. Mumm. It is the vibrant sash that catches the eye on their Cordon Rouge non vintage, vintage and rosé.
This red-sashed invitation seduced us with a mention of a couple of wines new to us, but in fact we had an effervescent encounter with a total of eight labels and the pleasures behind them.
Introducing us to this luscious line-up was Didier Mariotti, Chef de Caves, Chief Winemaker, since 2006.
He is a steady traveller of the world, sharing tastings and listening. From every visit he gathers pertinent information, such as the African countries seeming to prefer sweeter styles. “We are traditional champagne makers, we change very slowly, we can’t respond to every whim, but it helps us to know our customers.”
The feedback helps him trial minor variations in technique, vintage by vintage.
Reaching out to the world
Didier had just come from New Zealand where parent company Pernod Ricard makes Deutz sparkling wines. He tells us he thinks they may be picking their pinot noir too ripe, fine for a red wine but perhaps a little too far advanced for a crisp sparkler.
He tells us that this year growing conditions were not great in Champagne. Frosts, he murmurs … that’s Nature. But in 300 years they have learned to live with what that unpredictably wild woman brings.
Mumm is the fourth largest champagne house after Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Nicolas Feuillatte. Deep in its 25 kilometres of perfect chalk cellars there are millions of litres of reserve wines from previous vintages in tank and bottle. They can make up and adjust for poor seasons to present a desirably consistent product to winelovers every year.
We ask if he thinks that New World sparkling makers looking at their young wines wish they had such depth in reserve to touch up and bring this years offerings to perfect balance. A man of the world, a diplomat, he allows just a smile. “I’m sure they do.”
A scintillating line-up
We start with the wine so many are familiar with, the Mumm Cordon Rouge non vintage. We find it fine and pure, uncomplicated. Mid range in weight and length. Soft and citrussy. A delicious drink.
We follow with the Vintage 2008 from a very fine year indeed. It displays a lifted yeastiness and nuttiness. Some mature earthiness. Lengthy, with gently peachy fruit. Classic.
On to the G.H. Mumm Le Rosé NV . A lovely pure soft pink in colour. It gives us strawberries on the nose, but a bit sharp as if with a squeeze of lemon. Rose petals. What a warm pink whoosh of fine bubbles, which clears to a bright cleansing acid. Perfect for a summer evening.
Then the RSRV Blanc d Blanc 2012. Made with 100% chardonnay from the Grand Cru Cramant vineyards. White purity with nuances of apple, pear and lemon. Quite lively and cleansing . All in all a fine balanced wine.
RSRV Blanc de Noir 2008. From 100% pinot noir grapes. The juice is white but the red grape skins add complexity, a more serious firmness. A deeper whoosh of silkiness. Brooding, with more to give in coming years.
Cuvée Rene Lalou 2002. The prestige wine of the house. A blend of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir. After 15 years, straw gold in colour. A warmly textured welcome. Complexity richly woven of many strands. A magnificent mouthful, with a wealth of flavours including ripe fruits and a touch of butteriness.
G.H.Mumm Limited Edition 4 Year. A bright lifted nose followed by a joyful rich whoosh of cheerful bubbles. Luscious white fruits display a touch of sweetness and a hint of seniority that a couple of extra years bring.G.H.Mumm Limited Edition 6 Year. Ah yes you can savour the maturity of another two more years. Not an intense wine but softly enveloping. Gentle earthiness, smokiness and mushrooms. Sturdy follow-through flicked with correct acidity.
Well that was a fine day’s work. A Mumm for every occasion.
To read more about Mumm and the work of Didier Mariotti pop open the website at www.mumm.com
TML is indebted to Australia’s, and the world’s, sparkling wine educator, Tyson Stelzer, whose books and comments help us in shaping almost everything we write about bubbles.
You can see more of the man and his sparkling reviews at www.champagnehq.com