Pamela McIntosh discovers how one of the world’s most prominent Champagne brands has created a wine right here in Aotearoa.
Using centuries-old knowledge from French winemakers at G.H. Mumm alongside grapes lovingly grown in and harvested from South Island soil, Mumm Marlborough celebrates the absolute best of both worlds.
G.H. Mumm has been creating exquisite Champagne for almost 200 years, using traditional processes, exceptional industry knowledge, and grapes grown and harvested in Reims, France.
In an exciting expansion, G.H. Mumm have released the Terroir Series – an initiative to work together with wine-growing regions around the world to produce méthode traditionnelle-style wine with locally-grown grapes and winemakers.
“The idea for the Terroir Series was not to create more Champagne, because that’s impossible,” says Mumm Champagne Brand Ambassador Emeline Troger, during her whirlwind trip to New Zealand. “Rather to respect the history we take pride in at Mumm and to collaborate and celebrate pinot noir, which is the signature grapes of our Champagne house.
The Chosen One
New Zealand was a top choice because we are known to have exceptional terroir (growing environment) that is quite similar to the habitat in Champagne, France. “There’s a very cool climate in both regions which is ideal for growing exceptional and elegant pinot noir,” explains Emeline, as I fall deeper and deeper in love with her French accent. “The pinot noir grape needs a cooler climate to produce a very thin skin.”
A Long Time Coming
Emeline says that anyone in the wine industry must have patience, because beautiful wine is certainly not a process to rush. “We started talking about this collaboration in 2015. The team from Mumm have been working alongside New Zealand-based Pernod Ricard winemaker, Jamie Marfell, for many years, perfecting the planning and execution of this wine.
The late Laurent Fresnet (one of the worlds most experienced and talented cellar masters, who sadly passed away in April 2023) had visited New Zealand to work on this project and was very passionate about
Where The Magic Happens
The méthode traditionnelle process is extremely labour-intensive. Wine undergoes a secondary fermentation and is the qualitative method used to create Mumm Marlborough. The blending is critical, as is the expertise of the chief winemakers in France and in Marlborough to ensure the taste stays the same for the next 20 years, no matter what grapes are produced in each vintage.
Mumm Marlborough Brut is a “young sparkling”, aged for just 20 months in 100% oak barrels in Marlborough. Mumm Marlborough Rosé has a longer ageing time of around four years, to create complexity and depth.
“Our experts know everything about sparkling wine,” explains Emeline. “They can recognise how grapes will taste upon harvest and how they can create consistency in the style in every bottle.” It’s this skill and unwavering passion that sets Mumm apart from the rest.
Mumm Central Otago
Mumm Marlborough is part of a wider Terroir Series that also includes Mumm Napa (USA) and Mumm Tasmania (Australia). Keep an eye out for Mumm Blanc De Noirs Central Otago, which launched at the end of 2023.
Because the weather and environment in Central Otago differs greatly to Marlborough, this produces a pinot noir grape that is smaller in appearance with super-thin skin and much more concentration. The composition of this wine is 100% pinot noir and is harvested by hand and aged for between 20-24 months.