In the eighties, no Champagne brand was more attractive to me. The bottle with the “Cordon rouge”, the red ribbon of the Legion of Honour, embodied French Belle Époque and Parisian sensual pleasures for me like no other. Unfortunately, the quality of the contents was poor. The Maison went through turbulent times at the time. In 2001, the owner Seagram sold it to Allied Domecq and then fell 2005 to the Pernod Ricard group. The sparkling wine house Mumm, also part of Seagram since 1970, was sold to Rotkäppchen Sektkellerei. Part of this deal was apparently the withdrawal of Champagne Mumm from the German market. Because at that time, their champagne disappeared from the German assortment.
That was very regrettable. Because the house not only has an impressive history, but also an excellent portfolio of best Grand Cru vineyards. Then a bottle of Brut Sélection Grand Cru reached me three years ago thanks to cross-border online trading. The quality amazed me. So I was delighted when Berlin’s KaDeWe presented Mumm Cordon Rouge (Blanc and Rosé) in September 2019. But when I then asked for higher quality levels as part of the tastings for my Champagne book, I received a rejection. For Germany, only the basic range.
Mumms Top Sparklings
Mumm has changed this strategy this year. Since autumn 2022, the high-quality RSRV range has also been offered in this country. Since the relaunch in 2016, it has formed a world of its own. Not only in terms of quality, but also through a completely independent design and its own website. RSRV stands for Cuvée Réservée, a designation handed down in the cellar book of the Maison for selected selections for special customers and guests. Of the five Champagnes available, I was able to taste three. RSRV Cuvée 4.5, RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2014 and RSRV Cuvée Lalou 2008. There is also the RSRV Blanc de Noirs 2013, whose arrival is somewhat delayed. As far as I can see, Champagne Mumm does not officially distribute the RSRV Rosé Foujita in Germany.
The RSRV Cuvée 4.5 replaces the Brut Sélection Grand Cru, with the 4 standing for (at least) four years of bottle fermentation and the 5 for the five Grand Crus in the cuvée: 60 % Pinots Noirs from Verzenay, Aÿ and Bouzy and 40 % Chardonnays from Cramant and Avize. A Champagne with ambition, which the low dosage of 6 grams per litre underlines. In fact, the duration of bottle fermentation is often much longer. In the bottles I had, a Brut Sélection bore the (exemplary) indications “Bottled: 05/2011” and “Disgorged: 01/2018”, the RSRV Cuvée 4.5 even “07/2014” and “09/2021”. Which in the first case means over six and a half years, in the second over seven years of yeast ageing. In any case, the 4.5, whose base wines come from the difficult 2010 vintage and 20 percent from a “Réserve perpetuelle”, plays to the strengths of the house. A full-bodied Pinot Noir, nutty and muscular, with good acidity and medium length (91 points).
The new spearheads
The Blanc de Blancs is in a different league. But this is a mono-cru, which means it comes from a single village, in this case Cramant. Thus, the cuvée turns out to be the successor of the famous “Crémant de Cramant”. For legal reasons, this is no longer allowed to be called Crémant. In fact, in Champagne, Crémant stands for a champagne with a low pressure of 4.5 bar instead of the usual 6 bar. A characteristic that the new RSRV from Cramant shares with its predecessor. In Germany, distribution begins with the 2015 vintage. I had the cooler, more elegant 2014 vintage in the glass. Citrusy and floral on the nose, with hints of yellow stone fruit, discreetly chalky and delicately bitter on the palate, with good length and fine acidity (93 points).
RSRV Lalou 2008 is the successor to the prestige cuvée René Lalou, named after the former owner of the Maison. Half Pinot Noir, half Chardonnay, the wine is a blend of some of the oldest and highest quality single vineyards of the Maison: Les Bionnes and Les Perthes (Cramant), Les Crupots (Ambonnay), Les Briquettes (Avize), Hannepés (Bouzy), Les Rochelles (Verzenay) and Les Houles (Verzy). Here, twelve and a half years lay between bottling (06/2009) and dégorgement (12/2021). The result is a powerful, very classic champagne with complex notes of autolysis. Coming from the fantastic 2008 vintage, it is still somewhat restrained and is only at the very beginning of its development (94+ points). All in all, Mumm presents a very exciting portfolio that is aimed at the advanced champagne drinker and will be well received.
© of images: Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images