Mumm Napa Valley
Pinot Noir - Chardonnay
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
Top Sparkling Wine
Today we kick off our 2nd annual Wine Spies Intrigue Awards. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be featuring top selections from our top wineries, as chosen by you, our Operatives – and by our in-house Agents.
WORLD EXCLUSIVE ALERT!
Today’s just-in-time-for-the-Holidays wine is usually a wine that is only available at the Mumm Winery! Through crafty strategic negotiation (we never said, “bribery”), we were able to secure a small allotment for our Operatives.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Wine Spies founder, Agent Red, declares today’s wine to be his favorite Mumm bubbly to be featured here to date! This is high-praise, indeed, and it is recommended that you stock up for all of your holiday celebrations.
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT!
Subscribe to our Daily Dispatch (above) and you’ll always know what our Top Secret coupon code of the day is. Every day we issue a new members-only code that entitles you to have Ground Shipping included on orders of six or more and, sometimes, an added discount!
Mission Codename: Keeping Mumm
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: With the holidays approaching, locate a stellar bubbly for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Mumm Napa
Wine Subject: Napa Demi-Sec Napa Valley
Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Backgrounder: For today’s selection, we sent Agent Red out in search of a sparkling wine worthy of being served at the holiday celebrations of our Operatives around the country. After an arduous search, Red returns with a secret cache of Mumm Napa’s delicious Demi-Sec, a balanced and delicious Holiday sparkler. Read his detailed tasting notes and mission report below, which includes an interview with Mumm winemaker Ludovic Dervin
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A beautiful light straw color with brilliant cascades of large and small bubbles that move with an elegant energy. Using a non-etched champagne flute (which influence the course that bubbles take through the wine), large bubbles dance with orbiting smaller bubbles – in an interplay of dynamic motion
Smell – Lead by a mostly-citrus base, this bubbly shows off added aromatics and complexity on the nose by delivering equal measures of pear, apricot, yeasty bread dough, soft vanilla and white flowers
Feel – On initial sip, the bubbles in this sparkler are soft, not biting. There is no frenzied rush or hardening of the bubbles, as can be found in some sparkling wines. Instead, the feel remains soft and consistent. The feel of the wine is consistent from start to finish, which is to say that it is soft, semi-dry and slightly plush throughout
Taste – Delicious with flavors of authentic lime, lemon and pear are followed by soft hints of mixed melon and yeasty (subtle lemon) muffin, vanilla and the softest, very subtle hints of espresso and chocolate
Finish – Initially wet and light, the wine drys the palate slightly as flavors that started soft and sweet go slightly tart – as the creamy texture and bright flavors fade slowly
Conclusion – The fact that the wine is a Demi-Sec (Semi-Dry), means that it is also semi-sweet. This gives the wine a rich and balanced overall feel, with minimal bite or dryness. The overall flavors are balanced and harmonious making this one of the easiest and most fun sparkling wines I have had the pleasure to taste in some time. Mumm Napa continues to impress me with their wines and today’s exclusive Demi-Sec is no exception. In fact, I declare this wine to be my favorite Mumm sparkler, yet! Pick some up for all of your coming Holiday festivities.
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!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ludovic. We are thrilled to be showing your Demi-Sec today. I have to say that it is, so far, my favorite Mumm bubbly! 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 Napa Valley sparkling wines 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: Most of our wines have completed their alcoholic fermentation and are being racked off their lees in preparation for the blending sessions, which we call “ASSEMBLAGE” in the world of sparkling wines. We evaluate the final style and personality of each individual wine and decide which blend it will be part of. It is one of the most creative and artistic part of our work every year.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
LUDOVIC: Demi-sec is a winery exclusive multi-vintage blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris. It has a very crisp and refreshing acidity, balanced with a little bit over 3% residual sugar, giving a lot of weight and creaminess in the mid-palate. It is a fairly rich and full bodied sparkling wine, with a lot of citrus and white berry tones, a hint of vanilla and some stone fruit flavors. A strong finish with a nutty character.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
LUDOVIC: The slight residual sweetness of this wine makes it a great pairing with most cakes and desserts, but it is also a great wine to have with sweet and sour dishes, spicy food, and rich food like foie gras. Some of my favorite pairings are Crème Brulée and whipped cream apple pie for the sweet side. It can also be a great pairing with orange duck.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
LUDOVIC: I don’t have TV at home.
RED: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 upcoming holiday season!
Just for fun, what follows is a mission recap, from a prior mission to Mumm Napa:
It was a high level meeting of all of our overseas operatives. HQ wanted to have a rare face-to-face. We needed to get on the same page and refocus our efforts. I, Agent Sparkle, was tasked with arranging the summit.
Choosing the location was easy; I just had to get us all to the Monterey safe-house. Agents from around the world arrived. It was good to see Agent Baco Noir in the flesh, in her signature Italian pumps. Agent J played pilot to Agent Terroir and Agent White, flying them both in in her Citation X. They had come all the way from France for the meeting (stay tuned for the results of that ongoing mission). Agent Red arrived a little late but, as a founder of The Wine Spies, he can get away with it.
Agent Grenache, the heavy-lifter of the group, fresh cleaning up our latest logistical nightmare, was in attendance. So, too, were Agent Neutron and Agent Orange (our hipster Paso Robles Operatives), Agent Noir (Monterey), and Agent Smith (you read about him in Agent Red’s mission report of yesterday). Also in attendance were a select group our Agent’s field assets, moles, and confidential informants.
The meeting room was packed. So was the agenda: There were extended tastings to conduct, technical analysis, sessions on trade-craft, research on trends and perhaps most importantly, the latest harvest reports.
It was a long and grueling day and thankfully Agent Red arranged a great after-conference BBQ, Aussie style, in my honor. He arranged the dinner, but I had arranged the refreshment of the evening, a beautiful sparkling wine from my newest friends, Mumm Napa.
Mumm Napa’s Reserve Brut became an instant favorite from the moment I first placed the winery under surveillance. It took some skillful subterfuge to procure enough to serve at our gathering – and to keep enough for our well-deserving Operatives for today’s offering. We’re sorry that you weren’t able to attend our conference, but I am sure that today’s superb bubbly is consolation enough.
The day behind us, the BBQ was in full swing. We were having a great time, and I just love the fall along the California coast. It was the perfect way to finish the days activities, watching the sun set into the mighty Pacific – with a glass of Champagne in hand.
Agent Terroir raised his glass and said, “A mes amis et à un grand avenir!, A votre sante!”. He took a sip and smiled at Agent Sparkle with a glowing look of approval. Sparkle just smiled back and whispered to Red, “Mumm’s the word.”
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The gorgeous Rutherford, California location of the Mumm Napa winery and vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Demi-Sec is a wonderful dessert sparkling wine—deliciously light, fresh and fruity. Translating literally to “half-dry”, a fine Demi-Sec is crafted with a balanced dosage that provides a complex counterpoint to the natural acidity of the blend. Our Demi-Sec is rich, full and lush, with essence of orange blossoms, cantaloupe, citrus and a slight touch of caramel. A great complement to fruit, cheese and creamy desserts like creme brulée, peach or apple pie topped with whipped cream.
Demi Sec can be aged several years on the cork, and the sugar favors broaden to give even more complexity, richness and creamy tones.
Technique: Grapes are picked mainly at night—exclusively by hand and delivered to the winery in signature “small yellow boxes.” fruit is hand-delivered to the presses and slowly de-juiced at low pressure, with the four press fractions kept separate. low-temperature primary fermentation—mostly in stainless steel—is utilized to enhance fruit tones and preserve freshness. individual lots are kept separate during initial fermentation to fully express the vineyards’ individual strengths and subtleties.
Wines are blended in winter and bottled in spring for the second bottle fermentation. An average of 18 months of yeast aging adds complexity, contributing subtle aged favors of biscuit, bread dough, white blossoms and mocha while adding layers of creaminess. the wine is disgorged as a demi-sec style, and aged another 3 months on the cork to fully marry the dosage liquor to the base wine.
Profile: Mumm Napa’s Demi Sec is light, fresh and fruity, with a delicate pale straw color edged with yellow-green. aromas are predominantly citrus, with faint caramel in the background. On the palate, the wine is rich, full and lush, with orange blossom, fruit salad and cantaloupe. a long finish is dominated by white chocolate and vanilla. pair demi Sec with lightly sweet desserts such as crème brulée, peach or apple pie topped with whipped cream, persimmon pudding or fresh cantaloupe. its lightly sweet palate also provides the perfect foil to spicy far eastern cuisine styles.
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.
Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Appellation: Napa Valley
Composition: 47% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Moir, 5% Pinot Gris, 4% Pinot Meunier
t.a.: 8.1 g/l
Dosage: demi Sec