In the fall of 2022, the first bottles from Champagne Mumm’s RSRV collection were presented in Germany for the first time. SLP had reported on this. Now followed on February 16, 2023, the official presentation in the Munich Brasserie Thi. Unfortunately, cellar master Laurent Fresnet, who was supposed to present the Cuvée 4.5, the Blanc de Blancs from Cramant 2015 as well as the Cuvée Lalou 2008 – and brand new the Blanc de Noirs 2014 from Verzenay – had fallen ill. He was represented competently by Louis Paul Massiot, Global Ultra-Premium Innovation Brand Manager Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët, who granted sur-la-pointe.com an exclusive interview. The conversation took place in English at the Hilton Park Hotel in Munich.
SP As far as I know, Mumm has been distributing Cordon Rouge in Germany again since 2019, and now the RSRV series is being added. How did this comeback happen?
LPM We launched Grand Cordon and Grand Cordon Rosé in 2019, and that was kind of the first segment for the German market. And now we wanted to expand the targets and address new customers. We call them ultra-premium customers who are a little bit more into wine and enjoy the expertise that a Champagne house can bring to the table in terms of wine and food pairing, for example.
Germany is known for buying mainly volumes, less the high-end segment such as vintages and prestige cuvées like Japan or Italy. Was that a reason for Champagne Mumm’s late entry into the German market with RSRV?
Initially, we focused on the markets we thought were most accessible and where consumers were ready to welcome our cuvées. At the same time, Germany has an amazing, developing market. And we’ve seen what amazing things have happened with Perrier-Jouët here – so we had the same thing in mind with Mumm, on a different level, of course.
The difference with sister brand Perrier-Jouët
With Perrier-Jouët, Ricard has placed another Maison with a very clear image in Germany: I’ll mention the keywords Art Deco, Chardonnay, florality, and femininity. How do you position Mumm, what should the Maison stand for in Germany?
PJ (Perrier Jouet) is all about Chardonnay, Mumm is all about Pinot Noir. And to celebrate the pursuit of progress. When our founder established the house in 1827, he was already one of the first to place wine presses in the form of a wine press station right next to the vineyards. This gives us the direction. So the focus is on Pinot Noir and the balance between progress and heritage.
Can you tell us something about your specific expectations for Germany? Are you satisfied with the market launch of the Cordon Rouge in Germany? Where in the foreign markets would you like to see us?
We launched 2019 right before pandemic, so rough time for everyone, but since then, we have seen good results. And we are convinced to go on. I expect Germany to be one of the top ten markets, for sure.
The major relaunch
The Maison underwent a fundamental relaunch in 2016, which the German consumer of course didn’t notice very much. Can you tell us something about the motivation and targets for this relaunch?
The relaunch of Mumm focused mainly on the United States, as we were the historic market leader there from the mid to late 1980s. It was very important for us to return there and reposition the brand. That’s why we created the Grand Cordon, but it didn’t have such a big impact in Europe and Germany. What we’re going to change now: We are now focusing more on the Cordon Rouge, which is our core brand. Grand Cordon was an edition limited in time.
RSRV is communicated as a brand completely differently than the Cordon range with the classic Cordon Rouge at the top. With rsrv.fr, the range even has its own homepage. Do you want to separate the Maisons in the future, as Moët & Chandon / Dom Pérignon and Piper-Heidsieck / Rare have done?
That’s a very good question, but it’s too early to say anything about it. We just launched the RSRV Collection a few years ago – and only in Germany today. We will see how that works. But our main goal was to get new customers. Today, there are many who look very much at the wine aspect of champagne and not only see champagne as champagne.
A matter of terroir
Personally, I am pleased that RSRV stands for the classic idea of great Champagnes: the importance of the Grands Crus, the long autolysis, the assemblage. Some other big houses are currently adopting many of the ideas of grower Champagnes, such as single-vineyard bottlings. What do you think about this?
Our first goal is to create an amazing Champagne based on terroir. Of course, we have the Cuvée 4.5 [and Cuvée Lalou, of course, S.P.], which is an assemblage, but with the Blanc de Blancs and the Blanc de Noirs, we have two cuvées that focus on just one cru. With the Blanc de Blancs, for example [on whose label the reference “Village de Cramant” is only discreet, SP], we wanted to create a perfect expression of a Chardonnay from Cramant. Indeed, it is important for winemakers and their consumers to talk about certain soils, but for the majority of Champagne connoisseurs, it was different in the past. The classic champagne is founded on the idea of assemblage. But we are also getting there, we are on the way to express more and more the soil. In fact, the idea is quite new and amazing that we focus on isolating the terroir.
We are on the way to express more and more the soil. In fact, the idea is quite new and amazing that we focus on isolating the terroir.Louis Paul Massiot
The new RSRV design is very puristic, very graphic. The name “Cuvée 4.5” is not self-explanatory. How do the trade and champagne lovers in France and other export markets react to the RSRV series?
Just like you, it’s very modern, and at the same time it’s very impactable − so there was a lot of discussion, which is what we wanted. We trained our sales team to explain “4.5”. And now when someone explains it, it all makes sense: 4 years minimum aging and 5 Grand Crus. Now, it’s kind of a code name for us.
The Road Ahead for RSRV in Germany
Perrier-Jouët has a strong brand presence in Germany, especially in Hamburg. With Kevin Fehling, for example, there is an important brand ambassador. Are there similar plans, is the Munich Mumm event a one-off guest appearance or will you “play” the German market continuously?
This is too early to say, because we are just launching. Our goal would be to develop the brand in Fine Cuisine. We’ll see …
The press release did not mention the Rosé Foujita. Is it really not available? If so, are there not enough quantities for the German market?
In fact, the volumes are very small, but we are having discussions about it. There are now four new cuvées in Germany, so we have to see how the collection evolves here.
The Cuvée Lalou fits closely into the RSRV design. This is unusual for a prestige cuvée. Don’t you want to add a little glamour to it?
Lalou has always been known for its wine quality, and it is an amazing wine. And it is represented in a collection that focuses on wine premises such as terroir and almost still wine values. Just wine. It doesn’t make sense for us to put it on a higher level. So we didn’t feel the need to “glamorize” it or put a new tête de cuvee on top. It’s all about wine.
Some champagne houses are currently expanding their portfolios with cuvées that could be called ultra-ultra-premium Champagnes. In the process, 500 and occasionally 1,000 euros per bottle are called for. Is Mumm planning something like this for its range?
We always talk with our enology board team about whether there will be something soon or in the next 15 to 20 years. Maybe our cellar master finds an old vintage and decides to make something extraordinary out of it, but it must be in balance with the Maison spirit and our terroir. In general, we don’t have any concrete plans.
PS: The editorial image at the beginning of the article shows the back of the aluminum capsule of the Blanc de Noirs, on which a cutout of an old champagne map is printed. The Blanc de Blancs also hides such map details on its capsule.
© of all images: Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images