Did someone laugh when I said I prefer the chalky flavour of Champagne? (“What does chalk taste like?” they retorted.) Yes I can taste it, the chalk, the terroir. That special something.
In the private dining room of .est last week, visiting Chef de Cave, the debonnaire Didier Mariotti came quickly yet politely to my rescue. He agreed. Yes, you can taste the chalk. He’d already shown his chivalrous nature earlier that day. Aussie blokes take note. Mariotti was the last to leave the lift, allowing all of the women in the lift to step out before him. As refreshing as his Champagne.
I’ve always drunk Champagne. It’s my drink of choice and like some of the great dames of Champagne who pioneered the way, I could easily start my day with Champagne – for breakfast. (… and keep on drinking it all day!)
Now, onto lunch. We were a small and intimate group, invited to .est to meet Didier Mariotti on his one day visit to Sydney. Chef Peter Doyle’s menu provided subtley and background notes that allowed the beverages to be the divas and hold the spotlight. The food gently played a supporting role.
spanner crab, avocado, ruby grapefruit, cucumber, mint
nv g. h. mumm cordon rouge
moreton bay bug, cavolo nero, green peas, radish, young turnpis, bonito flakes
g. h. mumm blanc de blancs
steamed snapper fillet, iceberg lettuce, tomato, chives, Champagne nage sauce
g.h. mumm cramant – Oenothèque 1998 (magnum)
While we started with the NV G. H. Mumm Cordon Rouge with the amuse, it was represented again with our entrée – the moreton bay bug – to compare against the G. H. Mumm Blanc de Blancs. The food underpinned the Champagne beautifully. And I delighted in the delicate mix of young vegetables. They played with our palates and allowed the minerality of the Blanc de Blancs to shine. Finally the light bulb went off and I understand my leaning to that style. A favourite.
Then the crescendo when the Oenetheque magnums were presented: soft warm round toast that tickled the palate. I’m teasing you. I’m teasing you because Didier Mariotti had brought those bottles especially for our luncheon. Unfortunately for you (and me) the G. H. Mumm magnums are not available in Australia.
Champagnes by G. H. Mumm, exquisite food by Chef Peter Doyle and marvellous company. This was certainly a day I’ll remember. Blanc De Blancs Mumm de Cramant is truly one of my most favourite Champagnes.
The Establishment Level 1
252 George Street, Sydney NSW Australia
Mumm de Cramant is the only wine in the Mumm range to be the antithesis of the G.H. MUMM House style – wines dominated by a backbone of top quality Pinot Noir. It is also a unique cuvée amongst all champagnes: a single vineyard Champagne produced from grapes of a single harvest that is created to be enjoyed in its youth. It represents the continuation of a long tradition by the House and reflects the skill of its Head Cellarmaster.
Mumm de Cramant is exclusively composed of Chardonnay grapes from the terroir of Cramant harvested in a single year. The Cramant terroir is located on the Côte des Blancs: it stretches across 413 hectares exclusively planted with Chardonnay vines. The House of G.H. MUMM owns 20.38 hectares at this exclusive site. Cramant is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages on the Côte des Blancs. Located on the slopes of a hill, its vineyards set out in a semicircle facing the rising sun: chalky subsoil with
excellent drainage, north-east / south-west exposure, and protected naturally from the prevailing winds by the Butte de Saran.
Cellarmaster Didier Mariotti produces Mumm de Cramant only in the best years when the Chardonnay vintage is particularly good. The hand-picked grapes are pressed at low pressure at the G.H. MUMM press House in Cramant to extract juice without unnecessary skin contact and kept in isolated vineyard lots. Once received in the G.H. MUMM cellars, each separate lot goes through alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. After the fermentations are completed, Didier Mariotti tastes the clear wines from each lot regularly over several months to complete his analysis. It is only at this stage that he will decide to produce a Mumm de Cramant cuvée if the quality and quantity of the base wines are suffi ciently high. The champagne is then aged for only two years on the lees to preserve the fresh, citrus fl avours of the Cramant Chardonnay, before disgorgement. Most vintage champagnes are aged for at least three years and this short ageing period, so crucial to the style of Mumm de Cramant, means that G.H. MUMM is unable to put the vintage year on the label. Dominique uses a special liqueur de dosage with only 6g/l residual sugar, which is made from clear wines also from the Cramant vineyards that have been aged on the lees for a minimum of 18 months in stainless steel vats. The final cuvée is bottled under a mere 4.5 atmospheres of pressure creating a fine and delicate wine with tiny “melt-in-the-mouth” bubbles and a long, elegant finish.
• Alcohol content: 12.5% Vol
• Acidity: 5 g/l
• Dosage: 6 g/l
• Ageing: approximately two years on the lees
• Origin of crus: Cramant 100% (Côte des Blancs)
• Average on cru scale: 100%
• Grape varieties: 100% Chardonnay
• Pressure: 4.5 kg at 10°C
• Serving temperature: 10° C
(12°C when accompanying a meal)
Luminous, pale yellow with hints of green. Light, delicate bubbles create a fine, creamy mousse.
Aromas of white flowers, fresh fruit and lemon mingled with fresh and elegant notes.
Fresh and elegant on the palate, Cramant boasts crisp lime, lemon and grapefruit fl avours with “melt-in-the-mouth” bubbles. The finish is graceful and lingering.