2007 Mumm Napa Valley Chardonnay
Mission Codename: Gems Don’t Sparkle?
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Investigate Mumm Napa Valley’s non-sparkling wines.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Mumm Napa Valley
Wine Subject: 2007 Chardonnay
Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Backgrounder: Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ’the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. Today’s selection form Mumm Napa Valley is not your overly oaked and buttered wine found in so many lackluster California Chardonnays and instead shows tremendous balance and elegance and is almost reminiscent of some of the fine whites of Burgunday.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale golden yellow with straw yellow highlights though its bright clear core. When swirled, slow thin legs are spaced widely around the glass.
Smell – Bright and fresh with classic aromas of green and citrus fruit but also a distinct fresh and dried apricot component and a touch of tropical fruit. Soft and sweet spice, white flowers, minerality, a touch of creamy oak and hazelnut also emerges as you explore the nose of this wine.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium-bodied white has lively and crisp acidity and minerality. Very well balanced creamy mouth feel with good weight.
Taste – Luscious apricot along with green and citrus fruit harmoniously blend with creamy oak and subtle hazelnut flavors. Add to this a white floral and spice component and a touch of minerality.
Finish – Long and persistent with the fresh and dried apricot flavors lingering and supported by this wine’s clean and crisp structure.
Conclusion – The 2007 Mumm Napa Valley Chardonnay is a delicious and elegantly balanced Chardonnay that is nothing like the overly oaked and buttery wines that sadly crowd the white wine aisles at the wine shops. Almost reminiscent of the whites of Burgundy with great crisp and fresh fruit, subtle complexity of spice, minerality and other aromas and flavors – a nearly perfect summer wine that is ready to enjoy tonight!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Ludovic Dervin
DATE OF BIRTH: November 1970
PLACE OF BIRTH: Meaux, France
WINE EDUCATION: Diplome National d’Oenologue in Reims, France., Diplome d’Etudes Superieures en Oenologie des Vins de Champagne in Reims, France.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Wine maker for Mumm Napa
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balanced wines, with power and elegance
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Mainly blends, with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Creating a new wine with Musician Carlos Santana, to benefit underprivileged children, called SANTANA RESERVE.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Sparkling wines are not wines to keep for special occasions, but wines which will make any occasion special!”
We were unable to catch up with Ludovic for an updated interview so, here for your reading pleasure is a previous interview, in which he mentions a different wine than the one we are showing today:
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ludovic. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Chardonnay today. It is really a pleasure to drink your fantastic still wins as well. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
LUDOVIC: Bonjour agent red, and many thanks for showcasing our great Chardonnay today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
LUDOVIC: I think it all started playing hide and seek in the Champagne vineyards. I was always curious about the life cycle of grapes to wine as a kid, and all the culture surrounding it. I don’t think it is really one specific bottle of wine or wine experience that lead me to embrace winemaking as a professional career, but rather the sum of many small experiences growing up in the vineyards of Champagne. Winemaking has all the ingredients that I enjoy in life. A perfect mix of cultural traditions and modern science, interactions with our environment and people. Grape vines also tend to grow in some of the most beautiful regions of the world, such as our Napa valley.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
LUDOVIC: I studied winemaking science and craftsmanship mainly in Champagne in my early days, but I also traveled and made wines in the new world and old world of winemaking. California, Greece, South Africa, France.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
LUDOVIC: I like to craft wines which are balanced, fruit forward and food friendly. I like wines with a crisp and refreshing acidity, with depth, power and elegance. The fruit forwardness, freshness and elegance are achieved through meticulous farming and gentle handling of the fruit to avoid excessive bruising of the berries. I think it is important to let the fruit express itself through minimum winemaking intervention, but it is the daily attention to details which separate good wines to world class excellence.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
LUDOVIC: Again, it is more a combination of all that I encountered through my life that influences my winemaking style today, rather than one single event or person. I am not trying to duplicate or emulate somebody else’s style or personality, but rather look for my own. So I only look at my past encounters as a source of inspiration to build upon. I was lucky enough to work with some great mentors through my career and it is hard to single out any one of them. If I had to pick one person each for Still wines and Sparkling wines who significantly influence how I approach winemaking today I would say Bob Cabral from Williams Selyem and Daniel Thibault from Champagne Charles and Piper Heidsieck.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
LUDOVIC: My first winemaking job was in 1990 working as one of the harvest interns at Champagne GH Mumm in France.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
LUDOVIC: I always try to keep the consumer in mind for each different wine I make. My ultimate goal is to make wines that people want. But every-once in a while I like to make small batches just to experiment for myself.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
LUDOVIC: Napa Valley is a truly unique vine growing and winemaking region in the world. It offers a great diversity of soils and elevation within a small area, giving birth to a patchwork of unique terroirs. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean brings a lot of cool air, especially at night, to help preserve natural acidity and to allow for a slow and steady ripening season, without too much rain. Last but not least, what makes this region special is a pool of talented, creative and hard working individuals with eager to succeed. Napa Valley has experienced a growth pace in the wine industry in the past 30 year with no comparison anywhere else in the world, and I think it is thanks to all these ingredients.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
LUDOVIC: I think to be a good winemaker; you need to have a good sense of observation, and be prepared for a lot of long and sleepless nights during harvest.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
LUDOVIC: Just attended a very interesting technical conference in Australia on enology, vineyards and climate change. Now we’re preparing for harvest, as we are expecting to start in the next couple of weeks.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
LUDOVIC: We take special care in making our still wines and the 2007 Chardonnay is no exception. We chose vineyards in the Carneros district of Napa Valley because we love how the micro-climates in this region establish such even ripening. The cool breezes from San Pablo Bay retain crisp acidity while warm, dry daytime temperatures develop characteristic apple, pear and tropical notes. We fermented 35% in new French oak barrels for 10 months and the remainder in stainless steel to create a balanced blend of lush texture and a crisp, bright finish.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
LUDOVIC: I don’t have TV at home.
RED: Nor do I! Tell me, what is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
LUDOVIC: I am not an everyday kind of person. I believe in diversity and complexity, so my everyday wine somewhat changes everyday. But I tend to drink a lot of our DVX tête de cuvee sparkling wine, and a lot of Pinot Noir still wines.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
LUDOVIC: Very simply actually. We try to make different wines with very different styles and personality at Mumm Napa, so each person can find a wine they like. We all are different people and through our various life experiences, we tend to enjoy different flavors and textures. The best way to enjoy wine for me is with good food and good company. When you approach wine that way, you can really enjoy diversity. I tend to craft wines with crisp and refreshing acidity, because they pair better with food, and tend to age better. The most important thing to keep in mind when you taste wine is your personal integrity and palate. Think for yourself and don’t try to like a wine just because someone else gave it a good score or because it is expensive. Just experience and have fun. Most important with sparkling wines, get out of the habit to open them only for special occasions. They are extremely food friendly, and their festive spirit will enhance the atmosphere in a way that will make every occasion special.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
LUDOVIC: In the bubbly form, I am a big fan of Don Ruinart Champagne. A magnum of their Blanc de Blanc would work for me.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
LUDOVIC: Besides winemaking, what is the most important thing in your life; My family.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
LUDOVIC:Always a pleasure to share good time with good friends. Thanks a lot for your support and best wishes for the coming season!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Mumm Napa Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.