Maison Mumm: a new way of tasting champagne

Wine-tasting is often thought of as a timeless ritual, the same today as it has been for centuries. At Maison Mumm, it just entered the space age. Using techniques gleaned from neuroscience and cutting-edge design, Mumm has developed a brand new tasting experience, which reveals the Maison’s cuvées in all their depth and subtlety. It is the latest expression of a quest for innovation that has been synonymous with Mumm ever since its foundation.

This unique experiment was the brainchild of Laurent Fresnet, Mumm’s new Cellar Master. Fresnet realized that a wine’s primary characteristics are accompanied by delicate nuances and aromas that are sometimes overlooked. To devise a way of bringing them into focus, he approached Gabriel Lepousez - a neuroscientist who has devoted 15 years to studying how wine is tasted and perceived. “It is important to realize that that there isn’t just ‘one’ way to taste a wine,” says Lepousez. “By changing a few simple parameters, we can open up a wider range of experiences.”

The most important of those parameters are sight and touch. To cast Mumm’s wines in a new perspective, Fresnet and Lepousez turned to designer Octave de Gaulle, who created the high-tech bottle design for Mumm’s Grand Cordon Stellar - the first champagne bottle designed to be enjoyed in zero gravity. “Some of a wine’s characteristics pass under the radar when savored from a traditional champagne glass,” explains de Gaulle. “It was important to create a new kind of tool, to reveal those qualities while preserving the wine’s integrity.”

De Gaulle came up with two designs, both of them modeled on the classic Mumm champagne-tasting glass. The first has a smooth bowl tinted a deep saturated purple, and a weighted stem making it significantly heavier than a traditional glass. The second glass features a lighter weight, a sharp-edged stem and a frosted surface - creating a grainy sensation on the lips. In both versions, the champagne cannot be seen through the glass.

To test the new system, Fresnet invited guests to sample three of Mumm’s emblematic cuvées - first in classic champagne glasses, then in the two new designs. The first was Mumm Grand Cordon Rosé: tasted in the regular glass, it has great freshness in the attack, after which it reveals its fruity nature. When tasted in the heavier purple glass, however, it reveals an attractive depth with gourmet notes of red fruit and Viennese pastry.

The experiment was then repeated with Mumm’s Brut Millésimé 2013. Tasted in the lighter glass with a textured surface, it revealed a hidden freshness, with delicate aromas that usually go unnoticed. In the classic glass, however, this mature vintage cuvée offers gourmet pastry notes.

With the Mumm RSRV Blanc de Noirs 2009, the standard glass released all the qualities of a mature Pinot Noir from Verzenay: generosity, complexity and aromas of ripe fruit. But when tasted in the frosted glass, the wine revealed outstanding freshness with aromas of citrus and candied peach.

At the end of the meal that followed the experiment, Laurent Fresnet invited guests to discover a rare vintage cuvée from 1961. This outstanding wine offers a perfect expression of the characteristic qualities of Mumm’s champagnes. With an assemblage dominated by that year’s exceptional Pinot Noir wines from the Montagne de Reims, it combines power and rich aromas with an elegant, well-balanced structure. It was the perfect reminder that at Maison Mumm, tradition and innovation live side by side.

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