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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for February 11, 2000

Winery of the Week

A Tale of Two Mumms

Mumm Cuvee Napa This is a quiz about the French Champagne House of Mumm, and its California descendant, Mumm Cuvee Napa. It is difficult, so three correct answers earn you an "A."

1. Did Mumm make its first bottle of French Champagne in 1827 or 1627?
(Answer—Both the French and the English claim to have produced the first sparkling wine after 1650. Hence, Mumm was founded in 1827, which incidentally, is the year Beethoven died.)

2. The twin centers of French Champagne are the cities of Epernay and Reims. In which is Mumm located? Hint: Mumm is located near a large cathedral finished in 1430, where many French kings were crowned.

3. Probably the best-known symbol of French Champagne is the red diagonal stripe on Mumm's Corton Rouge ("red ribbon"). Was this marketing triumph conceived in the 1920's, when Mumm was a big favorite in the literary circles of Paris, or was it created back in the less-commercial 19th century?
(Answer—Would you believe, the sales staff came up with the ribbon in 1875.)

4. When my wife and I arrived at the House of Mumm in Reims, we were presented with a humongous Jeroboam of the Red Ribbon. Was it the equivalent of four or eight standard bottles?

5. G.H. Mumm Champagne was served at Buckingham Palace on Derby Day in 1904. Was the vintage 1897 or 1892?
(Answer—Twelve-year-old sparklers that I've tasted were beyond their peak. However, the Mumm must have had greater character, for the 1892 was poured that day.)

6. Was "Mum" the original spelling of the firm's name?
(Answer: Christian Mummer created "Mum" in 1492. It was a German beer, unrelated to Mumm.)

7. Before selecting the Napa Valley for its U.S.A. operations, did it make trial blends from New York or Oregon as well?
(Answer: They tried grapes from all three states before selecting California.)

8. Mumm Napa Valley produced its first fizz in 1986. Have they remained at the same location?
(Answer—The California version was so popular that the location was changed to facilitate expansion. The name has been changed to Mumm Cuvee Napa.)

Contact—Adrienne Asher-Gepford (707) 255-7667, FAX (707) 255-1119

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created February 2000