Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Lovely Holiday Present from Mumm

Most Champagne houses, no matter how large or small, produce several different examples of Champagne. From the basic non-vintage (or multi-vintage, if you will) to the ultra premium tete-de-cuvée, producers make a Champagne for various tastes at various price points. I'd like to tell you about a particular bottling from G.H. Mumm, one of the largest and most famous of all Champagne houses.

While Mumm produces a typical house style non-vintage Brut as well as a premium cuvée called René Lalou, they also craft a lovely wine called Mumm de Cramant that is somewhat of an unknown gem. The wine is a Blanc de Blancs, meaning it is 100% Chardonnay; in this instance, all of the grapes are from vineyards owned by Mumm in the village of Cramant. This is a famous village in the Cote des Blancs section of the Champagne area; the vineyards Mumm uses are rated as Grand Cru, the highest-rated plantings in Champagne, so the quality of these grapes is exceptionally high.

The wine is also known as a Cremant - "creaming" - meaning this wine has less pressure than a traditional Brut. Mumm refers to this style of Champagne as a "demi-mousse"; indeed the wine has only 4.5 bars of pressure as compared to 6 bars with most Brut, resulting in a softer, rounder finish. The wine was once known as Cremant de Cramant, but it is now known as Mumm de Cramant, certainly an easier name to remember and one that includes the producer's name.

I've enjoyed this wine on previous occasions, but this was the first time in several years I had tasted this and I was very impressed. My notes focus on aromas of lemon peel, Bosc pear, graham cracker and yellow flowers. Medium-full, with impressive structure, the finish is quite long and features a distinct note of minerality. Above all, I love the complexity of this wine, as well as its delicious fruit and stylish nature. I've liked this wine before, but for me, this particular bottling was the finest I've tasted to date. I would pair this with a number of foods, from shellfish (shrimp or oysters would be ideal) to Asian cuisine to lighter poultry. The price for this limited Grand Cru Champagne is $75, which I think is quite fair.

One other note - the top right hand corner of the label is folded. This symbolizes a French tradition of a special gift which would be delivered in person along with a card or envelope that had its top corner folded down. What a nice tradition, especially at the holidays and what a lovely wine from Mumm!

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