Successfully released in France two years ago, four Mumm RSRV Champagnes are hitting the UK shores this week. RSRV is the shorthand Mumm used to use for Grands Crus-only cuvées that were set aside for family and friends and the four cuvées that launch the brand all meet the approval of Anne Krebiehl MW who tastes and rates them as well as talking to Mumm’s cellar master Laurent Fresnet about their history and provenance.
“But it is not only the Mumm RSRV Blanc de Blancs that comes with a beautiful and longstanding history. The remaining three wines also pay homage to ideas and people,” writes Anne Krebiehl.
Partnering with the Whisky Exchange, which stocks an excellent range of Champagnes and other sparkling wines despite its name, Champagne Mumm has introduced its premium RSRV range of Champagnes in the UK. These cuvées represent less than 5% of the house’s production
Burnishing an image
Dawn Davies MW, head buyer and head of events at The Whisky Exchange, was visibly pleased to present the range together with Mumm’s cellar master Laurent Fresnet on London, ahead of the Champagne Show. ”We are super-excited to launch these Champagnes,” she said. “Mumm has had a bit of an unfair reputation in the UK,” she continued, noting that the house’s previous focus on multiples had somehow undersold the brand. Fresnet added that the RSRV range had already been introduced in France “a couple of years ago. It was a success and so we also decided to launch it in the UK.”
Old not new
Interestingly, however, this is not a new range of Champagnes at all – on the contrary – some of these cuvées have been made for decades and started life as a private reserve “for friends and members of the family – from Grands Crus and the best plots in Champagne,” Fresnet said, some from Mumm-owned vineyards, some from bought-in grapes. All four wines in the range come with an interesting history, the first one presented, the Blanc de Blancs, goes back to the 1940s. The name of the range, RSRV, is derived from the abbreviation that the Mumm cellar masters over the years used to denote wines in the cellar book that were reserved for the family: RSRV.
Part of the history of the house
The RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2015 is made from base wines exclusively from the village of Cramant in the Côte des Blancs, some from historic plots that have been owned by Champagne Mumm since 1882. It is a cuvée that has existed since the late 1940s and was initially called Crémant de Cramant, then Mumm de Cramant and now it is part of the RSRV collection and the 2015 vintage is the fourth vintage released under this new label. Fresnet said that this single-village cuvée had always been a vintage wine, just that the vintage had never been declared in the previous iterations. This lovely cuvée is thus a real part of Mumm’s history and a homage to the village of Cramant.
A particularity of this Champagne is its cool fermentation temperature of 12°C – “to preserve varietal aromas,” as Fresnet said, and a lower pressure of 4.5 bars. So on the one hand they want to achieve a citric, floral briskness but soften it by presenting it at lower pressure. This wine, from the warm 2015 vintage, spent six years on lees and was disgorged in February 2022 with 7g/l dosage. To preserve freshness, malo-lactic fermentation was blocked for one third of base wines.
But it is not only the Blanc de Blancs that comes with a beautiful and longstanding history. The remaining three wines also pay homage to ideas and people. The wine called Cuvée 4٠5 officially is the house’s “tribute to the diversity and prestige of five Grand Cru villages aged for a minimum of four years, hence the name. But it, too, used to be made under a different name: “This used to be called Mumm Brut Reserve,” said Fresnet, “a cuvée that was only made for the family, only from Grands Crus.” They have always been Verzenay, Bouzy, Aÿ, Avize and Cramant – villages where Mumm has owned plots since the 1840s.
The pink cuvée called Rosé Foujita, is also part of family history and is named after the artist Léonard Foujita, and influential Franco-Japanese artist who became a family friend – he also drew the little rose motif that still is on every neck label. Foujita was a friend of René Lalou who ran the house for almost 50 years from the 1920s onwards. Lalou became the artist’s godfather when he converted to Christianity. Rosé Foujita is made from six Grands Crus and plots owned by Mumm: the 30% of Chardonnay in this blend is sourced from Cramant and Avize, the white-vinified portion of the Pinot Noirs are from Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay, the red wine that colours the wine is mostly from Ambonnay. “For the red,” said Fresnet, ”we select some plots from our own vineyards, and it is 99% from Ambonnay.”
He noted that the red winemaking focused on cold maceration to get “maximal floral aromas from the skins,” and a short fermentation with gentle pump overs to extract aroma rather than tannins. He explained that the base wines for this edition were from 2014 with stainless steel-aged reserve wines – in fact, there is no oak at all throughout the entire range.
A fitting tribute
The last wine in the quartet – Cuvée René Lalou 2008 – is another historic wine that has always been made from exceptional vintages only – and the first was made all the way back in 1966 with 17 vintages since, the most recent being 2006. It was originally made from 12 historic, family-owned plots, however, 2008 was blended form just seven plots in six villages: Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzenay, Verzy, Avize and two plots in Cramant. The blend is half Chardonnay, half Pinot Noir and the wine has all the elegance of the 2008 vintage. Fresnet noted that the 2008 vintage had been “very easy, it was one of the perfect years, a vintage that came naturally.
Tasting notes for the four Mumm RSRV cuvées
Champagne Mumm RSRV Blanc de Blancs 2015
The nose opens with slight but pleasant reduction before very fresh green apple, riper notes of Mirabelle and bright, ripe Amalfi lemon take over. The palate is beautifully slender, bright, vivid and lithe, brimming with fresh citrus and a vivacious, slightly foamy but gentle mousse. The pristine finish has a lovely, chalky note and a lithe, citric echo. Almost weightless as a feather and supremely refreshing.
Champagne Mumm Cuvée 4٠5
Blended from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% of Chardonnay, this is based on the fresh 2013 vintage – which explains the luminous freshness at its core. Reserves from 2012 explain the richness.
Immediate richness is apparent on the nose in the form of crumbly biscuit and slightly cooled, toasted white bread, with a slight echo of smoke and an overtone of red plum. The palate is bright, fresh, with citrus notes creating a vivid briskness notwithstanding the underlying autolytic richness. There is a lovely hint of umami on the finish, but this is a wine that will totally benefit from another year or two of bottle age to let that beautiful richness and undoubted power of the Pinot Noir unfold.
Champagne Mumm RSRV Rosé Foujita
A gorgeous hue of deepish pink leads onto a lovely and rich nose of aromatic red fruit with notions of cherry with a subtler note of raspberry. The palate has roundness and freshness in equal measure and presents foamy, lively bubbles and a peppery verve in the background. There is a fruity depth at the core, but a lovely note of citrus in the end alongside a beautiful note of raw, rich shortcrust pastry.
Champagne Mumm RSRV Cuvée René Lalou 2008
A note of melted butter, of toastiness, a slightly smoky, smouldering richness – all point to roundness and generosity on the nose. The palate immediately frames these rich notions in a sleek, poised frame that is pervaded by freshness. The body is concentrated, compact yet expansive, wonderfully resonant. Real depth becomes apparent on the mid-palate and on the long, brisk, pristine and citric finish. A class act.
The wines are available from The Whisky Exchange and retail at £72.95 for the Blanc de Blancs; at £47.95 for the RSRV 4٠5; at £69.95 for the Rosé Foujita and £140 for Cuvée René Lalou 2008.