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Mumm changes the rules


Under the leadership of Didier Mariotti, its Cellar Master, who joined the house back in 2003, Mumm has caught the world’s attention through a new range of remarkable Champagnes, and a ceaseless capacity to innovate. In so doing, it has decidedly trampled over some traditionnal Champagne codes.

Didier Mariotti et Ross Lovegrove

Earlier this year, Mumm took the Champagne world by storm when it introduced its new Grand Cordon bottle, destined to become its new iconic bottle. Designed by Ross Lovegrove, the new bottle is thinner, with lower shoulders, a long neck and a narrower lip. It is elegant and slim and conceived to facilitate a harmonious aging of the Champagne. Its greatest single novelty, though, is that it does away with the label, replaced by a red ribbon engraved and inprinted in the glass across the front of the bottle.

Today, Mumm is again challenging the codes of Champagne by introducing its new cuvée ‘Mumm 6’. It is a non vintage brut aged six years on the lees before being disgorged and put on the market. The focus on the time spent aging rather than on the vintage is what makes the approach original. It introduces a new dimension to the world of Champagnes.

It all began with two observations made by Dider Mariotti. “The first one, he tells us, is that when customers buy a vintage Champagne they don’t know what they’re going to find in the bottle.” The second is that “the art of aging white wines is a specific skill of the Champagne people. As much as the art of blending, or the art of making sparkling wines”.

“Aging is the added value of a wine, continues Didier Mariotti. Consumers, in France and abroad, turn to vintage Champagnes because they expect them to be of higher quality. What I propose to do here is to provide that higher quality through a longer aging period, while maintaining the Champagne tradition of blending grapes, crus and harvests.”

The result is a complex and lush wine that is never heavy. With its golden tones, the robe of Mumm 6 clearly indicates that the wine is evolved. It displays aromas of candied yellow fruits, honey and dried currants. On the palate it is round, generous, dynamic and velvety. It is a very expressive Champagne, open and outgoing. Pairing it with a foie gras, half-cooked or panfried, or a turbot in a sauce, could work wonders. It is available in retail outlets.

Anyone willing to climb one step up in the Mumm range, can turn to the ‘Mumm Blanc de Blancs’, the ‘Blanc de Noirs’ and the ‘Brut Selection’. These three Champagnes, only available at wine stores, are made from grapes from Mumm’s own vineyard. Even though Mumm buys 75% of the grapes it needs, it owns 218 hectares of vineyard including some plots in Grand Cru villages such as Avize, Cramant, Ay, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzenay, Verzy, and Mailly en Champagne. Henceforth, the Mumm Blanc de Blancs (which used to be called ‘Mumm de Cramant’) is elaborated with grapes from Cramant and Avize and expresses the freshness of both of these terroirs. It’s a minimalist kind of Champagne, pale, lively and aromatic, full of tension, with delicate bubbles and a dosage of 6 grams. The Blanc de Noirs comes exclusively from the grand cru village of Verzenay. It’s made from the 2002 harvest, and spent nearly ten years ageing in the cellar plus three more after disgorgement. Such a long maturation period has been deemed necessary to tame the high acidity of the Verzenay pinots and allow them to mellow out. It’s a very classy wine that can be enjoyed with a roasted squab, or a breast of chicken with morels. The Brut Selection is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay that includes 20% reserve wines. It is the perfect compromise between the preceding two cuvées.

The power of Pinots, one of the house’s trademarks, can also be felt in the ‘R. de Lalou’, Mumm’s Prestige Cuvee, currently available in the 2002 vintage. Mumm’s R de Lalou is made from the top twelve house plots, all vinified separately, as they do in Burgundy. Each plot is selected for its specific characteristics, and the best six or seven are then assembled for each vintage cuvee. R de Lalou is then aged for ten years, disgorged and put to rest for another three years minimum. Its robe is gold color and its nose rich and evolved, but it displays youthful tension on the palate. It is a remarkable symbol for a house sometimes decried but that can produce really great Champagnes.

Gérald Olivier