Tuesday, November 9, 2010

G.H. Mumm and Perriet-Jouët Champagne Assembly

This was a PR event put on by Pernod Ricard, the owner of Champagne houses Mumm and Perrier-Jouet. I decided to attend not to be wined and dined, but because it included workshops that promised to enlighten me about Champagne and food-matching and the process of blending.

Unfortunately, I did more wining than dining and by the time the final workshop came around, I was incapable of absorbing what the speaker was saying. However all is not lost, and I blame my discovery of the wonderful Mumm de Cramant for my failure to fully communicate the proceedings.

The day was to be organized as such: there was to be an open tasting of several Champagnes from both houses, and I was booked into two workshops, one focused on Champagne and food-matching, and the other on the blending that goes into the crafting of Mumm Cordon Rouge NV. Both are topics that I know next to nothing about, and it seemed a good opportunity to learn.

I started the day with a mid-morning snack, and left for the Assembly around 1 PM. However, when I arrived they had laid out a load of canapes, each matched with a particular Champagne. The first one I tried was Mumm de Cramant, paired with scallops with a cauliflower pureé. The Champagne was delicious, and I worked my way through all the wines with gusto.

Next, a workshop that I wasn't scheduled to attend began, and all non-attendees left the room. Now was the time to perform the 'open tasting', which was set in a mezzanine-type structure overlooking the main room where the workshop was taking place. I was fortunate to have the wines to myself, as everyone else was apparently having lunch just above me in a room filled with hushed voices and the tinkling of silverware. It was only after the advice of one of the PR staff that I was welcome to eat, but by that time I was halfway through tasting the wines and my first workshop was starting in half an hour, so I had little time to waste on lunch.

Again, the standout was the Mumm de Cramant. The one person who did spend some time tasting the wines seemed to be a drinks industry veteran, and when I asked him if any of them stood out for him, he pointed to the Mumm de Cramant, saying it had been a favourite of his for years. And keep in mind the range on display also included the prestige Belle Epoque range, which is basically twice the price.

I finished tasting the wines, and then headed downstairs to attend the first workshop, which was Champagne and food matching. Let me sum this up quickly - a chemist uses gas chromatography to find aromatic compounds in the wine. Next, food with the same chemical signature is then paired. Fairly simple concept and I guess it works - all of the matches seemed to work. I kind of wish they offered more general matching rules - like what would go better with a Pinot Noir based Champagne as opposed to a Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs. Perhaps they did - this was about the point where I started to daydream. Another thing - the food pairings where the exact same ones they did with the canapes when I walked in, so I had extra impetus not to pay attention.

Next up was the blending workshop - the 'Chefs de Caves Masterclass'. All I can remember about this was being served multiple vintages of Belle Epoque from various Magnums and Jeroboams. After tasting each one (OK - possibly drinking each one) I noticed halfway through that my ultra-serious Japanese sommelier table-mates were in fact only sniffing the wines and furiously scribbling notes, and that I hadn't been paying attention to anything the speaker was saying (it was Perrier-Jouët Chef de Cave Hervé Deschamps and Mumm Chef de Cave Didier Marotti). My lack of food intake had caught up with me, and I was quite useless as a journalist at this point.

Like I mentioned previously though, I did discover one great wine: the Mumm de Cramant.

Produced using 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru commune of Cramant, this champagne is unique as it is made with a lower pressure than other Champagnes. It is very pure, crisp and refreshing, something I find lacking in Pinot Noir based Champagne, and it is becoming apparent to me that I prefer this Blanc de Blancs style. The other NV offerings paled in comparison to it, and to be honest the Belle Epoque range didn't do much for me. The Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs seemed to be everyone's favourite though, as people from the dining room kept coming down and refilling their glasses with it. It had the properties of an aged Chardonnay (it was the 2000 vintage) but I felt it lacked the freshness of a younger wine.

Mumm de Cramant retails for about £40 / bottle, and I reckon it is just as good as Champagnes twice this price, including Perrier-Jouet's Belle Epoque range. It's not easy to find though, a search on Wine Searcher only yielded three results, but that should be enough to get you started!


  1. SO you didn´t get to blend your own? What a disappointment! Having been recently in champagne and tasted the base wines, I´d like to try my hand at that one day. One question, the Mumm de Cramant is not the same as de cremant? I´m a bit confused, having never had it or come across it. Is it a champagne or a sparkling wine?

  2. Hi Denise,

    The Mumm de Cramant is from a grand cru vinyeard in the village (or commune) of Cramant. It's a non-vintage Champagne. Yeah, I was confused as well by the similarity to "Cremant" which is non-Champagne, French sparkline wine (as you know).

    It's really good stuff, keep an eye out for it.