While wine industry events are slowly kicking back into life now that the pandemic threat has peaked, it’s still far from the old days (i.e., in 2019).
Back then, there would be something on every week, and even conflicting tastings/dinners etc., with real-life people! None of this Zoom masterclass business, with winemakers using laggy internet talking to wine writers in their trackies.
Not that there is anything wrong with the ‘login or just log out’ convenience of virtual masterclasses (and track pants), but talking to humans in the flesh over a glass of wine is better.
It was a basic pleasure to head to Cafe Sydney the other week to eat food, talk booze, and drink Champagne. And with a vertical of Mumm vintage on offer, the fizz was a worthy excuse, let alone the typically excellent menu (a few food pics below too).
Of course, close followers of this site will wonder what I’m doing, given that I’m not a big fan of the phenolic and flabby Mumm Cordon Rouge. But the Mumm vintage? Much better. Almost all Grand Cru fruit (typically 95%+) it’s an affordable premium Champagne with character. Pinot heavy, and not my favourite style (which is usually blanc de blanc), but In the good years, it’s a lovely balanced style marrying power and flavour, even if the vintage variation swings a bit too much.
This vertical had plenty of highlights, too, especially a selection of wines that spent eons on lees before being disgorged into magnums – in some cases, spending 10+ years on lees.
Every time I look at a Champagne vertical, I think about how fucking inconsistent some of the years can be and how different disgorging dates and cellar conditions muddy everything.
No great old wines, just great old bottles? That maxim was made for vintage Champagne, which can look tired after ageing in ‘good’ cellars, but sublime when recently disgorged.
Indeed some of these bottles were disgorged a decade ago and sitting underneath someone’s desk, cooking like a chocolate cake left in a hot car. Others were disgorged a year ago and look spankingly fresh. So it’s a bottle-by-bottle proposition and serves as a red-hot reminder that if you can get wines disgorged to order, then jump on it, no matter the producer.
Meanwhile, almost a decade ago(!) I went to dinner with the previous Mumm chef de cave, and it’s probably worth reading that piece for a bit of context. Go here.
As usual, extra bits are in italics, and I’ve mentioned if it’s mags or standard bottles. Notes were written over dinner on my phone, so excuse the staccato style.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 1985-2015
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2015
Disgorged end 2021. 100% Grand Cru. Usually, it’s 95-98%. Typically 6g/L. 75/25 Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay. Full malo. Verze and Ambonnay for Pinot fruit, Avize & Cremant for Chardonnay.
This is so forward and fruity, with strawberry Pinot fruit jumping out. A ripe vintage, and it shows – bold and very affable. Not classic, but that red fruit makes this attractive early-drinking fair. 17.7/20, 92/100
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2013
Disgorged end 2020. From a very late vintage, with fruit picked in October.
Much more classic. Nutty and brioche sea breeze nose. Lovely golden citrus yet tightens up nicely on the finish. I kept coming back to this layered effort – the acidity has that cool harvest sharpness, yet the leesy layers of the top make something so convincing and attractive. Top-flight Champagne and vies with the ’06 as my pick of the night. 18.5/20, 94/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2012
A little brassy on the nose. Quite developed too. The palate feels nutty and a bit caramel too. Just a little sweet and sour, although evident complexity. The palate draws you in – good drive and layers of flavour. Still not my favourite by a long shot. 17.5/20, 91/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2008
Some lanolin and gumball funk in this rather classic vintage. It Smells fresher than the ’12 for mine – less brassy, more classic progression. Honeyed nuts, waxy bits, toasty bottle development. It’s golden and mouthfilling and right. Drinking at its peak, if a rather chunky sort of wine. I like it. 17.7/20, 92/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2006
En magnum. 64% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, which is unusual. Disgorged in 2018.
This looks much fresher than most vintages – which is unsurprising given the magnum and disgorgement date. It’s the complete package, too, all aged golden pineapple character with a bit of funk. This feels quite mouthfilling and generous, plus the acidity and palate shape still offers up freshness to counter the aged nuances. Cracking wine. 18.5/20, 94/100.
Here’s a contrast – the same wine, but in a standard 750ml bottle, not magnum. Disgorged earlier, too (unknown date, but likely 2010-2012).
It’s still a fresher wine than the 2008, in many ways, until you get to the finish where it starts looking nutty, dusty and a little bit decrepit. A serious step down compared to the magnum! 17.7/20, 92/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 2004
Aldehyde. Brassy golden colour. Caramelised palate is decaying quickly into aldehyde, even if there is plenty of complexity. Less of a fan of this. 16/20, 87/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 1999
En magnum and disgorged circa 6 years ago.
Perversely fresh. Bacon fat leesy notes. Fuck yeah, magnums! The palate is obviously developed with the first maderised notes coming through. But rudely fresh with aftershave and even a little citrus in there. Intrigue and deliciousness. 18/20, 93/100.
G.H. Mumm Millésimé Champagne 1985
En magnum and disgorged circa 2015 as a special ‘Collection of Chef de Cave’ release.
Straw gold. Bacon fat and roast chicken, a little mothballs, fully golden and quintessentially aged. You’re not going to drink much of this, more something to stare at and think about. The palate is just holding on – a little sour mothballs and nuts the only remnant. Great curio, but not really a drinker. Tricky to rate. Let’s say 17.5/20, 91/100 for interest. I couldn’t drink much, though.
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