Mumm Napa Valley
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Chardonnay form Mumm Napa Valley is a delicious example of how Chardonnay, when balanced perfectly can be a sublime drinking experience.
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
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Mission Codename: Gems Don’t Sparkle?
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate Mumm Napa Valley’s non-sparkling wines.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Mumm Napa Valley
Wine Subject: 2007 Chardonnay
Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Backgrounder: Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ‘the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. Today’s selection form Mumm Napa Valley is not your overly oaked and buttered wine found in so many lackluster California Chardonnays and instead shows tremendous balance and elegance and is almost reminiscent of some of the fine whites of Burgunday.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale golden yellow with straw yellow highlights though its bright clear core. When swirled, slow thin legs are spaced widely around the glass.
Smell – Bright and fresh with classic aromas of green and citrus fruit but also a distinct fresh and dried apricot component and a touch of tropical fruit. Soft and sweet spice, white flowers, minerality, a touch of creamy oak and hazelnut also emerges as you explore the nose of this wine.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium-bodied white has lively and crisp acidity and minerality. Very well balanced creamy mouth feel with good weight.
Taste – Luscious apricot along with green and citrus fruit harmoniously blend with creamy oak and subtle hazelnut flavors. Add to this a white floral and spice component and a touch of minerality.
Finish – Long and persistent with the fresh and dried apricot flavors lingering and supported by this wine’s clean and crisp structure.
Conclusion – The 2007 Mumm Napa Valley Chardonnay is a delicious and elegantly balanced Chardonnay that is nothing like the overly oaked and buttery wines that sadly crowd the white wine aisles at the wine shops. Almost reminiscent of the whites of Burgundy with great crisp and fresh fruit, subtle complexity of spice, minerality and other aromas and flavors – a nearly perfect summer wine that is ready to enjoy tonight!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Ludovic Dervin
DATE OF BIRTH: November 1970
PLACE OF BIRTH: Meaux, France
WINE EDUCATION: Diplome National d’Oenologue in Reims, France., Diplome d’Etudes Superieures en Oenologie des Vins de Champagne in Reims, France.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Wine maker for Mumm Napa
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balanced wines, with power and elegance
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Mainly blends, with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Creating a new wine with Musician Carlos Santana, to benefit underprivileged children, called SANTANA RESERVE.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Sparkling wines are not wines to keep for special occasions, but wines which will make any occasion special!”
We were unable to catch up with Ludovic for an updated interview so, here for your reading pleasure is a previous interview, in which he mentions a different wine than the one we are showing today:
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ludovic. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Chardonnay today. It is really a pleasure to drink your fantastic still wins as well. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
LUDOVIC: Bonjour agent red, and many thanks for showcasing our great Chardonnay today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
LUDOVIC: I think it all started playing hide and seek in the Champagne vineyards. I was always curious about the life cycle of grapes to wine as a kid, and all the culture surrounding it. I don’t think it is really one specific bottle of wine or wine experience that lead me to embrace winemaking as a professional career, but rather the sum of many small experiences growing up in the vineyards of Champagne. Winemaking has all the ingredients that I enjoy in life. A perfect mix of cultural traditions and modern science, interactions with our environment and people. Grape vines also tend to grow in some of the most beautiful regions of the world, such as our Napa valley.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
LUDOVIC: I studied winemaking science and craftsmanship mainly in Champagne in my early days, but I also traveled and made wines in the new world and old world of winemaking. California, Greece, South Africa, France.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
LUDOVIC: I like to craft wines which are balanced, fruit forward and food friendly. I like wines with a crisp and refreshing acidity, with depth, power and elegance. The fruit forwardness, freshness and elegance are achieved through meticulous farming and gentle handling of the fruit to avoid excessive bruising of the berries. I think it is important to let the fruit express itself through minimum winemaking intervention, but it is the daily attention to details which separate good wines to world class excellence.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
LUDOVIC: Again, it is more a combination of all that I encountered through my life that influences my winemaking style today, rather than one single event or person. I am not trying to duplicate or emulate somebody else’s style or personality, but rather look for my own. So I only look at my past encounters as a source of inspiration to build upon. I was lucky enough to work with some great mentors through my career and it is hard to single out any one of them. If I had to pick one person each for Still wines and Sparkling wines who significantly influence how I approach winemaking today I would say Bob Cabral from Williams Selyem and Daniel Thibault from Champagne Charles and Piper Heidsieck.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
LUDOVIC: My first winemaking job was in 1990 working as one of the harvest interns at Champagne GH Mumm in France.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
LUDOVIC: I always try to keep the consumer in mind for each different wine I make. My ultimate goal is to make wines that people want. But every-once in a while I like to make small batches just to experiment for myself.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
LUDOVIC: Napa Valley is a truly unique vine growing and winemaking region in the world. It offers a great diversity of soils and elevation within a small area, giving birth to a patchwork of unique terroirs. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean brings a lot of cool air, especially at night, to help preserve natural acidity and to allow for a slow and steady ripening season, without too much rain. Last but not least, what makes this region special is a pool of talented, creative and hard working individuals with eager to succeed. Napa Valley has experienced a growth pace in the wine industry in the past 30 year with no comparison anywhere else in the world, and I think it is thanks to all these ingredients.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
LUDOVIC: I think to be a good winemaker; you need to have a good sense of observation, and be prepared for a lot of long and sleepless nights during harvest.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
LUDOVIC: Just attended a very interesting technical conference in Australia on enology, vineyards and climate change. Now we’re preparing for harvest, as we are expecting to start in the next couple of weeks.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
LUDOVIC: We take special care in making our still wines and the 2007 Chardonnay is no exception. We chose vineyards in the Carneros district of Napa Valley because we love how the micro-climates in this region establish such even ripening. The cool breezes from San Pablo Bay retain crisp acidity while warm, dry daytime temperatures develop characteristic apple, pear and tropical notes. We fermented 35% in new French oak barrels for 10 months and the remainder in stainless steel to create a balanced blend of lush texture and a crisp, bright finish.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
LUDOVIC: I don’t have TV at home.
RED: Nor do I! Tell me, what is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
LUDOVIC: I am not an everyday kind of person. I believe in diversity and complexity, so my everyday wine somewhat changes everyday. But I tend to drink a lot of our DVX tête de cuvee sparkling wine, and a lot of Pinot Noir still wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
LUDOVIC: Very simply actually. We try to make different wines with very different styles and personality at Mumm Napa, so each person can find a wine they like. We all are different people and through our various life experiences, we tend to enjoy different flavors and textures. The best way to enjoy wine for me is with good food and good company. When you approach wine that way, you can really enjoy diversity. I tend to craft wines with crisp and refreshing acidity, because they pair better with food, and tend to age better. The most important thing to keep in mind when you taste wine is your personal integrity and palate. Think for yourself and don’t try to like a wine just because someone else gave it a good score or because it is expensive. Just experience and have fun. Most important with sparkling wines, get out of the habit to open them only for special occasions. They are extremely food friendly, and their festive spirit will enhance the atmosphere in a way that will make every occasion special.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
LUDOVIC: In the bubbly form, I am a big fan of Don Ruinart Champagne. A magnum of their Blanc de Blanc would work for me.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
LUDOVIC: Besides winemaking, what is the most important thing in your life; My family.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
LUDOVIC:Always a pleasure to share good time with good friends. Thanks a lot for your support and best wishes for the coming season!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Mumm Napa Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The 2007 Chardonnay has a vibrant, golden yellow hue, with aromas of ripe golden delicious apples, citrus, pear, peach, white plums and apricot as well as noticeable hints of tropical fruits. The Green Island fruit gave a powerful and crisp structure, underlined by citrus and mineral flavors. With a long, lush finish, this Chardonnay pairs well with veal, seafood pasta, or fresh crab cakes with a lemon-butter sauce. Also wonderful with mild and nutty cheeses – think Gruyere or Asiago.
WINEMAKER NOTES: In 2007 we crafted a wonderful Chardonnay from grapes farmed in the American Canyon area, from the Green Island vineyards. Located on the South-East part of Carneros, the area is known for cool foggy mornings and cold night. The soils are Haire loam with sand and gravel below 3 feet. Its very gentle slopes reach the edge of the beautiful San Pablo bay.
The grapes were harvested by hand in order to preserve the integrity of the berries. The fruit was picked early in the morning and delivered cold to our facility. Heat and bruising of the fruit isn’t appropriate to the crafting of top quality Chardonnay, since it enhances browning and oxidation of the juice, leading to “cooked flavors”, color browning and unbalanced structure. Our gentle picking and handling of the fruit ensure the preservation of the freshness and finesse of the berry flavors.
As soon as the cold whole-cluster grapes are delivered, they are gently dumped into our press. We utilize low pressure for a very long time to extract the clear juice out of the berries. This slow whole-cluster pressing allows preserving the finesse and elegance of the delicate chardonnay flavors. The juice is then settled overnight at cold temperature, racked off juice lees and moved directly into French oak barrels for alcoholic fermentation. The alcoholic fermentation is followed immediately by a malolactic fermentation that helps softening the crisp acid structure for a creamier and oilier palate. The yeast lees are stirred every two weeks for 3 to 4 months in order to enhance the structure of the wine, as a process called “batonnage” (yes, it is French). After that, the philosophy is to be as un-interventionist as possible, allowing the wine to express itself by a slow aging process in the French oak barrels. The wine is racked and lightly filtered just before bottling. The wine will spend a total of 10 months in barrels before bottling.
This wine has a vibrant golden yellow color with aromas of ripe golden delicious apples, citrus, pear, peach, white plums and apricot, as well as a hint of tropical fruits. Floral tones of jasmine, acacia and orange blossoms complement the complex and elegant nose of this wine. In the mouth, it is dense, oily and powerful with a rich and slightly creamy texture. The grapes from Green Island vineyard give a powerful and crisp acid structure, underlined by citrus tones and mineral flavors. The finish is long and lush, with a nice balance of fruit and spices, showing vanilla beans, hazelnuts, honeysuckle, and baked pear.
We suggest pairing it with white poultry, veal, foie gras, seafood pasta dishes in creamy sauces, grilled shrimp, salmon or shellfish with sauces with a lemon accent. This wine also pairs nicely with fresh crab cakes. Very good companion of mild and nutty cheeses likes Gruyere, Parmesan or Asiago.
This wine already displays a great intensity and a long finish, and should age beautifully in your cellar for the next 3 to 5 years.
VINTAGE 2007 NOTES: The year began dry with some very cold days and single-digit nighttime temperatures around the New Year holiday, the opposite to the start of 2006 when floods greeted the New Year. The season continued dry, with about 60% of normal precipitation throughout the appellation. Temperatures were warmer than normal as winter continued into spring with resulting earlier budding, bloom and set in the vineyards.
Soils dried early in spring due to low precipitation, which halted canopy production early in the season. This allowed field crews the opportunity to do even more refinement in fruit thinning as they spent less time managing the canopy, a positive benefit to the lack of winter rainfall.
The summer growing season continued on the mild to cool side. There were also notably fewer days in the 90s, which changed early predictions that ’07 would be an unusually early harvest. There was a brief period of heat that spiked around Labor Day, but the temperatures cooled after several days. This heat spike added the boost of sugar development that growers were looking for to complement the excellent acid structure developed in the white varieties. 2007 clusters, as well as individual berries on the clusters, were notably smaller in all varieties due to the dry season.
This vintage offers good flavors and strong acidity. Yields were slightly lower than anticipated, but the quality was very good. Both the low yields and high quality can in part be attributed to smaller berries and lower-than-average cluster weights. The 2007 season was characterized by very cool and very consistent temperatures; with total growing degree day accumulation slightly lower than 2006. This allowed the fruit to ripen at a very steady pace, making for nearly ideal chemistry and flavor development…the 2007 vintage allowed us to be very selective and pick at exactly the desired level of maturity.
Our Chardonnay grapes were harvested between September 6th and September 13th from the Green Island vineyard on the edge of the San Pablo bay.
About The Winery:
The Wine Enthusiast Magazine calls Mumm Napa one of “America’s Best Tasting Rooms. How do you decide where to end the day in Napa Valley? Go to Mumm.”
Enjoy table service outside on the terrace, or taste in our glass-enclosed tasting salon – each offering stunning views of the surrounding Rutherford vineyards.
While you are here, take a guided tour of the winery, stroll through our Fine Art Photography Gallery or browse for exclusive Napa Valley items in our wine shop. Any way you look at it, a visit to Mumm Napa is the highlight of your Napa Valley experience.
About The Winemaker:
Winemaker Ludovic Dervin – In Summer 2002, Ludovic Dervin was named Winemaker at Mumm Napa. Ludo brings to the position extensive experience in both sparkling and still wine production, along with an exceptional working relationship with V.P. Winemaking and Operations Napa Valley, Rob McNeill.
Boasting a thorough understanding of méthode champenoise production, Dervin completed his winemaking studies in his native Champagne, France, His skills were then refined during several harvests with the prestigious Champagne houses Charles Heidseick and G.H. Mumm, as well as California’s Piper Sonoma, where he first worked with Rob McNeill. Prior to joining Mumm Napa, Ludo polished his non-bubbly winemaking skills at the world-renowned Russian River wineries, Hartford Court and Gary Farrell.
Appellation: 100% Napa Valley
Varietal make-up: 100% Chardonnay
Barrels: 100% French oak, 35% new, for 8 months.
Total Acidity: 7.0 g/L as tartaric acid equivalent
Cases Produced: 1,988