The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is a non-vintage blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris. Those are the 4 main grapes approved for use in Champagne, France. There are actually a couple of other approved grapes but they are seldom used.
Mumm has been in Napa since the 1970s and in Champagne, France since 1827. Since it is produced in Napa Valley it has to be called Sparkling wine and not Champagne. Only Sparkling wine produced in Champagne is entitled to be called Champagne, but Mumm Napa is made with legitimate Champagne know-how.
To go off-topic for a moment, I want to talk about the three varieties of the Pinot grape that are included in the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. Pinot is French for pinecone way back when the original vintners thought the grape cluster reminded them of pinecones. Pinot Noir means black pinecone, Pinot Gris (also known as Grigio in Italy) means grey pinecone. Pinot Meunier is a little more complicated.
Meunier is the wheat dust left over when grinding wheat into flour. The grape leaves have white markings that the farmers thought looked like Meunier of wheat dust. There is also a Pinot Blanc grape that is not approved for use in Champagne and that translates to a white pinecone. I know, not all that exciting, it sounds better in French.
The grapes for the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige came from forty-five growers throughout Napa. With fancy still wines fewer vineyards are seen as being better but that is not how it works with Champagne and Champagne-style wine. I know of a leading Champagne that uses up to one hundred different growers from different parts of Champagne.
In fact, mosy Champagne Houses do not have much in the way of vineyard holdings. If they do own a vineyard those grapes go into their most upscale Bubbly. Many longterm contracted vineyards in the norm.
This is a Brut Sparkling wine which means it is dry and not sweet. Sparkling wines are fermented twice and the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige was fermented in both stainless steel vats and French oak barrels. The wine aged in stainless and wine aged in oak take on different characteristics, So the Mumm Napa well feature a blend of both.
The second fermentation, which occurs in each and every bottle, lasts an average of 18 months. That is also the minimum aging requirement in Champagne, France. After the dead yeast is removed from each bottle and the dosage is added to achieve the desired sugar level and acidity, the wine is aged an additional three months before release.
This is a Napa Valley Sparkling wine that is very much made in the Champagne tradition. A leading wine magazine gave this Bubbly 91 points and Wine Spectator named #54 in the top wines of 2014, it is a non-vintage so it should be essentially the same wine in 2020. The alcohol content is 12.5%.
Mumm Napa Brut Prestige Tasting Notes
The color is a mix of platinum and gold, with plenty of tiny energetic bubbles. The nose is crisp apple, lemon, yeasty bread, light Christmas spice, a whiff of vanilla, peach, and pear, along with dried pineapple bits.
This is a delicious Bubbly with bright, but balanced acidity. The flavors are nicely mingled together, on first sip nothing stands out just this tasty stew of flavors.
Then on the next sip, there is crisp, but slightly sour cherry, green apple, lemon, pink grapefruit, that salty on lees thing, and a little stone fruit. The mid-palate adds a touch of cream, hard-edged strawberry, and lime.
The acidity adds a crispness to this Bubbly, but it does not bite. It will also get you reaching for the next sip.
- The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is about half the price of “entry-level” (a weird term for Champagne) Champagne from France, and I think you may be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
- Expensive Champagne is sublime with extended aging that can last years not months and exotic production techniques. They are a category unto themselves. But, affordable Champagne is a more reachable target for Sparkling wine producers from different locals.
- You can pay $30 to $40 for what is affordable Champagne and you will get an excellent Sparkling wine, I will never turn down a glass. Or, if you just want a great more affordable glass of Bubbly and do not care if Champagne is on the label, then Mumm Napa Brut Prestige will easily get the job done.