For centuries, France ruled the roost in the wine department and it was the French Champagnes that were the best known, most costly and most sought after. So opulent were the wines that the czars and royalty of pre-revolution Russia ordered that Champagne sent to them bottled in crystal decanters and labeled in gold. It wasn’t until the 1967 Paris Wine Competition, where the French wines were given a sound drubbing by the upstart American wines, that pendulum began to swing. Anticipating the competition, several of the French wine producers took advantage of the lower land prices (at that time) in the wine grape growing regions of California and established vineyards and wineries. One of these companies was the renowned Champagne producer C G Mumm. The Mumm winemakers realized that they could not make French Champagnes from California grapes and set about modifying their traditional winemaking techniques to accommodate the local fruit. In doing so, they helped develop a new and enjoyable direction for American wines, both sparkling and still.
We digress here to explain that no sparkling wine, made anywhere in the world, can duplicate a French Champagne. Whatever the magic, whether it be the far northern growing region, the chalk growing soil, the constant temperature of the aging caves or the total “hands on” production methods, Champagne is Champagne and it is unique. Mumm Napa has developed its own and individual style stressing the abundance of fruit flavors and aromas that can be derived from California grapes. The proof is in the tasting and tasting a Mumm Napa sparkling wine is always a pleasure.
Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($22). This is the wine that Mumm Napa has set as the company’s stylistic direction. Made of from a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Gris and 5% Pinot Meunier this sparkler captures the true spirit of the fruit while maintaining the structure and elegance required of a sparkling wine that will carry the Mumm Name. It is a wine with a crisp acid bite that is in perfect balance with the fruit, an important feature of any quality sparkling wine. The cherry element of the Pinot Noir is in perfect balance with the traditional flavor of melon and citrus contributed by the Chardonnay. There is also the traditional flavor of toast along with a hint of vanilla, which carries on to a creamy finish. This is a truly fine wine and the perfect libation for meals and upcoming holiday events.
Mumm Napa Brute Rosé ($24). The current popularity of Pinot Noir wines of all types is reinforced by this absolutely delightful wine. It is a wine of great flavor and character that displays a beautiful salmon-pink color that delights the eyes when it is poured. The Mumm Napa Brut Rosé is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and exhibits the aromas of black cherries combined with raspberries and strawberries, inviting the first sip. The fruit flavors of dark cherries, summer berries, peaches and a very noticeable toasted bread-like flavor that weaves in and out of the fruit and dances across the palate ending in a creamy blast of raspberries. The only thing missing from this sparkler is a written guarantee that it will be nothing but great.
Mumm Cuveé M ($22). The Mumm Cuveé M is a spicy, slightly sweet luxurious wine that derives its “special” flavor from the blending of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a bit of Pinot Grigio and hint of Pinot Meunier. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier impart a cherry-like and dark fruit element to the aroma and flavor as well as body. The Chardonnay contributes depth and character as well as a hint of tropical fruits to the aroma and a slight citrus flavor. It is also responsible for those special characteristics sought after in all of the better sparkling wines; a good acid balance and that mystical and often elusive creaminess to the finish. This is the perfect wine for a Champagne cocktail.