After waking up to a great breakfast in our beautiful room at the Harvest Inn (another first for us, but a great place to stay with its good food and wine receptions nightly), we set off for our trade tasting at Mumm Napa. We were warmly greeted by Charles, our host, who took us for an in-depth hour-long walking tour of the interworkings of Mumm Napa.

Mr. Wine Chick, aka, “I am in a boot, but I can do it without a wheelchair,” deserves a gold star for being a great sport during the tour. But then again, we got to try a lot of great bubbly.  We began the tour with a glass of the 08 Devaux Ranch sparkling, which was full of vanilla and fig with a yeasty yumminess and hints of almond.

First some background on Mumm Napa.  In 1979, the French champagne house of G.H. Mumm began looking for a place in the United States after the success of the French-American tasting.  Guy Devaux, an experienced winemaker, looked for four years for the perfect terrior ideal for the méthode champenoise process of winemaking.  Napa was the right place due to the grape growing friendliness of the climate and land.  Mumm winery was completed in 1986 and Guy stayed at the helm until his death in 1995.  Today, Champagne-born master winemaker Ludovic Dervin leads the wine making in the same handcrafted method.

During our tour, we stopped in several different locations – the first was a representation of the grapes and soil types present in Napa Valley – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris – all grapes used to make the sparkling wines.  We talked about irrigation, water stress management and harvest.  Mumm is a Napa Green Certified winery.

Mumms takes a dual approach to their wines.  First, is the vintage approach, which showed big depth and character – these were the most interesting to me.  The second, which has very wide distribution and features some good wines, is the multi-vintage approach where you’ll find the consistency of the wines tasting the same from year to year.

As we went through the tour, each stop underscored the care taken with each grape cluster – from the selection of only Napa Valley grapes to transportation to pressing to bottling to fermenting every bottle separately.   We had the chance to do our own blending session to create different versions Mumm’s sparklers.  What they couldn’t personally show us, we saw by short video, which gave a behind the scenes look from grape to bottle.

Our last stop before the patio, was the Fine Art Photography Galleries featuring Ansel Adams’ and Jeffrey Davis’ amazing photos.  Then we enjoyed a beautiful cheese spread complete with the full Mumm wine line-up.

We tried eight sparkling wines and I absolutely loved the 07 Blanc de Blanc, which tasted of crème brulee, bread, vanilla and almonds.  I also shipped home the 2000 DVX, a wine made to honor Guy Devaux, which tasted of apple, flowers, nuts and had a spicy character, as well as the Devaux Ranch served to us at the beginning of our tour.  Of interest, was the Santana Brut, a partnership between Carlos Santana and Mumm Napa that benefits the Milagro Foundation, Santana’s charity for children in Mexico.  This wine will be released in May.

Trust me – if you think about Mumm only for what you can find on a grocery store shelf – think again.  There are some wonderful sparkling wines to be found and the tour is definitely worth the trip.