The Mumm Napa Brut Rose’ is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay sourced from as many as 50 different vineyards (depending on the vintage) in the Napa Valley AVA. Mumm Napa started in the early 1970s is the California project of GH Mumm founded 150 years earlier in Champagne, France. Mumm Champagne is the 3rd largest selling Bubbly in the world and the largest selling Sparkling wine in France. The 50 vineyard sources may seem like way too many vineyards but the entry-level Champagne from one of Champagne’s most iconic Bubblies uses 100 vineyards. Since all Sparkling wine producers that use the Traditional Method of production use the same general method for the 2nd fermentation (where the bubbles are born), the magic happens during the 1st fermentation. Different vineyard lots are fermented separately and often differently, here most of the batches were fermented in stainless steel tanks, but some select batches were fermented in French oak barrels. Everything, every process used in the making of wine affects the finished product, even adding 1% of another grape makes a noticeable change. Champagne Houses have an identifiable and hopefully unique style for their Bubbly.
When talking about the making of Champagne (France) or Sparkling Wine (Napa) the Winemakers usually highlight the 2nd fermentation where each bottle is filled with still wine then a measured amount of sugar and yeast is added. The 2nd fermentation is fairly standard, the main differences are the length, here it is 18 months. The 1st fermentation is where the house-style is formulated and the exact production techniques are carefully guarded. This is a Rose’ and to get the proper color a small measured amount of still (not Bubbly) Pinot Noir is added to every bottle. The Mumm Napa sells for less than half of the price the French Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut. I found the Mumm Napa on sale for about $16, while the French stuff is $35 to $40. Yes, Champagne has great vineyards and decades of Bubbly experience, but it’s not like Napa vineyards are all that shabby and the production techniques and equipment are at this point universal. I know French Champagne is excellent but is there any reason that Napa Valley Bubbly cannot be equally entertaining at half the price?
The Tasting Notes
The color is pale gold with a flurry of tiny bubbles. The nose is black cherry, cream, a touch of yeasty bread, a hint of spice, grapefruit, and the nougat inside a 3 Musketeers bar. This Bubbly has a soft creamy mouth-feel, with black cherry flavors, quite different if you are used to Chardonnay dominate Bubbly. It starts with ripe black cherry, then sleek, not too tart grapefruit, then a slap of vanilla cream. The mid-palate adds some minerality (just enough to be noticeable), raspberry, and a salty, nutty flavor. The acidity is really good, not enough to bite, bit enough to get you to reach for another sip. The finish is subtle but long.
- Mumm Napa Brut Rose’ is a well-made and delicious Bubbly, remember this is mostly Pinot Noir and the flavor profile will be a departure from Chardonnay-based Champagne-style Bubbly. Only Bubbly from Champagne can legally be called Champagne, so the Mumm Napa has to be referred to as a Sparkling wine.
- The best wine I ever had was a Blanc de Noir Champagne (that means White wine from Red Grapes) or a Bubbly made from all Red Grapes usually meaning Pinot Noir. I didn’t know enough about wine at the time to remember the name of the wine, I mistakenly thought they were probably all that good. But just the same my personal preference with Bubbles is Pinot based wines. Though, I have drunk my share of Chardonnay Bubbles, too.
- So, Napa versus France, who wins? If I’m paying I’m am more than happy to drink Mumm Napa, if someone else is paying then let us get the French stuff. Without having a bottle of Cordon Rouge here to do a taste test it isn’t fair to make a determination, but I seriously doubt it will be twice as good as the Mumm Napa. When drinking Bubbly price normally isn’t the number 1 factor, but the Mumm Napa Brut Rose’ is well-made and delicious, what more are you looking for?