Several times a year, I head out to California to taste wine. Often, I spend the bulk of my time there in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. One of my personal goals each time out is to spend most of my tasting time at producers I haven’t visited, or at least haven’t been to in a long time. Sometimes the properties I haven’t been to yet surprise even me! So on my most recent trip, when I was compiling a list of potential appointments, Mumm Napa was on the short list. Amazingly, even though I’ve tasted in Napa for about 20 years, I never stopped here before.
Since it was my first time, I arranged a tour and tasting so I could see the facility and then sample the wines. The tour was very consumer-friendly and took us through the winemaking facility with stops along the way to check out videos of their processes. If you’ve toured a winery, but not one that makes sparkling wine, you should do so to note the number of differences and unique steps involved. I’ve been on a number of tours at sparkling wine houses and I‘m still fascinated. Along the way we sampled three of their widely available offerings. The tour was conducted at a nice pace, leaving plenty of time for questions from the group. Once the tour was over I broke off from the group and sat down on their tasting deck with a friend who joined me that day, to do a more comprehensive tasting. They offer lots of different options for tastings at Mumm Napa and it’s a highly recommended stop for those who love California sparkling wine. There were a number of wines that I really enjoyed. Here’s a look at a trio of my favorites.
The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige was made from a combination of Pinot Noir (51 percent), Chardonnay (46 percent), Pinot Meunier (2 percent), and Pinot Gris (1 percent). The first three grapes are the classic triumvirate most often associated with sparkling wine; The Pinot Gris is something out of the standard realm that they have added. Fermentation took place primarily in stainless steel, and 18 months of aging on yeast followed. This widely available Brut style wine has a suggested retail price of $22. Bits of citrus and white stone fruits fill the nose this wine. This is an entry level selection in the Mumm portfolio, and it’s a classic Brut. The palate is dry and loaded with fruit and spice. Yeast and biscuit characteristics emerge on the finish, which has nice length. While the friendly price makes it an obvious choice for holiday celebrations, this wine will go very well with food whether it’s paired with a first course during dinner or alongside brunch. You’ll be pleased with the results.
The Mumm Napa Brut Rosé is composed of Pinot Noir (85 percent) and Chardonnay (15 percent). To get the lovely pink hue a small amount of the Pinot Noir is allowed to ripen for longer than the rest of the batch, and it’s fermented and vinified separately. Its addition to the final blend adds color and complexity. This wine is available nationally and it has a suggested retail price of $24. The salmon hue of this wine is striking the minute you pour it into the glass. Wild red berry aromas fill the nose. Strawberry and cherry fruit characteristics are dominant on the palate, and they’re joined by bits of red raspberry, as well as white pepper and clove. Bits of flaky biscuit emerge on the finish along with continued spice. This is a substantial wine that’s delicious on its own and will pair well with a wide array of foods.
Finally, we have the Mumm Napa 2005 DVX. This flagship wines made up of an even 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. About 33 percent of the wine was aged in oak, for depth and an additional layer of complexity. Five years of aging on the yeast in bottle followed. After being disgorged from the yeast, it spent an additional 6 months being bottle-aged prior to release. This wine has a suggested retail price of $65. The name DVX was chosen as an homage to winery founder Guy Duveaux. Stone fruit aromas fill the nose of this wine with apple taking the lead. There is a finesse and elegance to the palate that’s apparent and impressive from the first sip you take. Toasted almonds, bits of citrus and lots of spice characteristics are present from the beginning to the end. The finish here is persistent and impressive in both length and depth. This is a wine that is lovely today but will age well. I had the opportunity to taste the 2000 vintage of DVX on my visit, and it was a stunning knockout of a wine. Vintages will age differently, of course, which is one of the beauties of wine. However the winemaking style offers a connective tissue. The bottom line is that Mumm DVX is one of the best examples of vintage sparkling wine in California.
Most wine-making countries have a tradition of sparkling wine production. The Champagne region of France is most well known of course. California has a number of producers making some seriously delicious sparkling wines, and Mumm is one of them. They offer a wide portfolio that has a little something for just about everyone with a taste for bubbly. The trio described above is the tip of the iceberg; check their web site or your local fine wine shop for more options. Better yet, pay them a visit when you visit Napa Valley, I guarantee it’ll be a delicious stop on your journey.