Winter is apparently in full effect this week in Portland, with temperatures as low as the teens (brrr), and guess what’s in my glass… bubbles. Yes, bubbles indeed! Just because it’s cold that doesn’t keep me from drinking bubbly this time of the year. I am of the school of thought that bubbles are appropriate all year round and for any occasion. But if you happen to be a “New Years only” bubbly drinker then pay attention to some of the wines in this post as they make great additions to your New Years party, or whatever you chose to do to celebrate the end of 2009.
I do have to admit here that on my first visit to Mumm Napa I did not have a great experience. The person that helped us that particular day was rude and inattentive, and it just left a negative impression with me for a long time. Maybe he was just having a bad day, who knows, but it certainly reminded me of the extreme importance of customer service at all levels. Wineries should really pay attention to those individuals who represent their brand. Anybody can walk into the door of a wine tasting room and should expect a favorable tasting experience… I mean… they are gtting paid to serve the customer, right? I only write this here because I truly believe that a customers first experience with a winery can make or break their overall impression of that brand.
It is also why I was anxious about trying this lineup of wines, because after a couple years I was more than ready to give them another chance… besides how could I stay mad at someone that makes bubbles? Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend was wrong, bubbles are!
Rutherford, CA | Napa Valley
Mumm Napa’s history began in 1979 when the French Champagne house, G.H. Mumm, began looking for a place in the U.S. to make American sparkling wine. The experienced winemaker, Guy Devaux, searched until he found a location where he could make sparkling wine in the traditional French méthode champenoise (I promise I will someday explain at length what this process actually means, but for now understand that it is the highest quality method for producing sparkling wine, and the method used by any quality Champagne from the Champagne region of France, as well as most sparkling wine outside of France. If you really want more information, the Mumm Napa website has a nice, yet brief, description of the process here). Devaux eventually found his ideal location in the Napa Valley.
A majority of the fruit for their wines is grown in southern Napa, in the Carneros region, where the temperature is cooler and more conducive to growing the traditional Champagne style grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier).
Although Guy Devaux passed away in 1995, the winery still honors his legacy in all the work they do and even produce the DVX (below) in his honor. Today Ludovic Dervin, born and trained in France, continues to honor Devaux in making the highest quality sparkling wines he can using the traditional méthode champenoise.
The winery is located Rutherford, CA, along the beautiful Silverado Trail featuring a full-service tasting patio, tours and a Fine Art Photography Gallery hosting year round exhibits.
This is Mumm Napa’s most premium blend made each year to honor the visionary work of Guy Devaux, utilizing their very best lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
This wine is bright golden in color, with a nose that is delicate and floral with fresh strawberries, cherries, dried cranberries, green apple, and brioche, followed by a creamy and layered mouth with a luscious body and lingering crisp acidity. As the wine warmed a few degrees it took on a beautiful smell of Panettone, the Italian holiday bread, along with many other intriguing notes that kept changing every time I went back for another smell. Even after sitting in the glass for a while the bubbles remained fresh and lively. This was by far my favorite of the lineup and definitely recommended if you’re looking for a special bottle of bubbly.
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay
Occasions for drinking this wine: Well, anytime. But I can imagine it being great for the holidays, and since it had the sweet smell of brioche and Panettone I’d bet it would be a great pairing with that as well.
Light salmon pink color, this wine has a very berried bouquet of strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries along with some orange peel on the nose. The mouth is bright, full, and slightly tart with strong acid on the finish. Recommended if you like fuller bodied bubblies.
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: 85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay
Occasions for drinking this wine: This wine was the most robust and full of the four and was definitely a food wine. I did enjoy the wine, but it’s almost a bit too big (for bubbly) to drink alone. Would pair beautifully with a wide range of meals (and not just limited to hors d’oeuvres). I’m thinking roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables for a warm winter treat.
This wine is floral with white blossoms on the nose along with peaches, green apple, lemon peel, and white cherries. The mouth is creamy with soft bubbles that dissipate faster than the other wines. Though not overly complex and not much acidity on the finish, this is a bright and fruit forward (think apple cider) easy drinking wine that is a great everyday sipper for its price point. Recommended.
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: 51% Pinot Noir, 46% Chardonnay, 2% Pinot Meunier, 1% Pinot Gris
Occasions for drinking this wine: Bright, fresh this would be a refreshing summer sipper or a simple everyday bubbly. Drink alone as
an aperitif, or with hors d’oeuvres or with brunch.
This wine is golden in color with a slight peach hue. The nose was bright with aromas of citrus (mostly lemon) along with honey, caramel, pear, peaches, tart green apple, and slight brioche. The mouth was lively with bright lingering bubbles and finished slightly sweet.
I tasted the wine before reading any of the notes and was shocked to find that the wine was Sec (semi-sweet) at 3% residual sugar (RS), but with such strong acidity it is not distracting to those who don’t love sweet wine. I’ve tasted tons of still wines with that level of RS that were too sweet for my taste, but this one was barely noticeable.
It is a very intriguing wine that would satisfy both those who enjoy sweeter style bubbles and those who prefer them drier. Recommended.
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: 48% Chardonnay, 43% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Gris, 3% Pinot Meunier
Occasions for drinking this wine: This would be a great wine to introduce new sparkling wine fans to. I find that people who (think they) don’t like sparkling wine tend to start with sweeter style wines first then start exploring other options from there (I've said it before and I'll say it again, I believe there is a wine for everyone!).
As for food pairings, scallops or hors d’oeuvres would be a lovely paired with this wine. It would also be great with a fruit or custard based dessert. Mildly sweet paired with mildly sweet.
If you’re interested in trying out new bubblies this holiday season, any of these would be safe bets for everyday bubbles (except for the delicious DVX which is solid enough for a special occasion). As for a winery visit, I will be sure to give them another chance next time I am in Napa.
These wines were provided as media samples for review.