2000 Mumm Napa Valley DVX
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a stellar sparkling wine for our deserving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Mumm Napa
Wine Subject: 2000 Mumm Napa DVX
Winemaker: Ludovic Dervin
Backgrounder: For today’s selection, we sent Agent Red out in search of an extraordinary sparkling wine. He did not need to look far; Ever since Agent Red fell in love with them on a mission more than three years ago, Mumm Napa winery has been a Wine
Today, Agent Red returns with an exclusive secret cache of Mumm Napa’s flagship sparkling wine, their 94-point 2000 DVX. Read his detailed tasting notes and mission report below, which includes an interview with Mumm winemaker Ludovic Dervin. NOTE: Each bottle comes with the signature metal wine flute, shown hanging from the bottle in the photo above.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Delicate bubbles cascade upward in spiraling columns, through wine of pale straw color. Swirl the wine, slightly, and the columns of bubbles excite, sending additional bubbles outward, filling the glass.
Smell – Delicate at first sniff, with aromas of delicate white flowers, yeasty fresh bread dough, young strawberry and the finest hint of navel orange. After some time in the glass, and as the wine warms just slightly, additional aromas of nutty vanilla, apricot, soft cherry and fine apple emerge.
Feel – Fine bubbles play across the palate, remaining consistent in size and volume, throughout. The wine is soft and wet all around the palate, with a very pleasing smoothness that is uncommon in most sparkling wines.
Taste – Superbly delicious, with refined flavors of fresh red apple, fresh baked bread, acacia flower, nutty vanilla, apricot, easy citrus, subtle cherry and the slightest hint of strawberries and milk chocolate.
Finish – Beautifully flavorful and long as aromas of white flowers, soft citrus and soft cherry tail off slowly, in a creamy finish that lingers long after the effervescence has subsided.
Conclusion – This is, by far, the best domestic bubbly I have had the pleasure to taste. With a perfect mouthfeel that makes you want to sip and sip this delicious bubbly, our tasting panel found it hard to put its glasses down for very long. Review bottles were depleted quickly, as this bubbly was discussed and enjoyed. Flavors are light, but not subtle or restrained. Similarly, aromatics don’t leap out of the glass, but are more refined and very natural. Overall, this is an extraordinarily pleasing bubbly that is a true delight to drink. We paired ours with thin-crust pizza Bianco (no tomato sauce) with Gruyere, apple slices, thick-cut bacon and leeks. The pairing was total perfection. If you are looking for an amazing sparkling wine, you have found it. Mumm’s 94-point 2000 DVX is a brilliant bubbly!
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!”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Ludovic. We are thrilled to be showing your 2000 DVX today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
LUDOVIC: Bonjour, again, Agent Red, and many thanks for showcasing our flagship sparkling 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 Carneros so special?
LUDOVIC: The Carneros District, with its cool evenings, foggy mornings and warm days, provides the best climate around for producing the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. When we go out tasting the grapes, we’re looking for even ripening, while maintaining high acidity and moderate sugar levels. These qualities are what create elegant, ageable sparkling wines that we can enjoy through the years.
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: We are just wrapping up our harvest. We have brought in all of our sparkling wine grapes and have begun bringing in some still wine grapes. Our efforts have just begun in the cellar as we are now in the midst of watching all the separate lots in their primary fermentation. Everyone has been working long hours and it is paying off. Although a very strange year, with the extended rains in the spring and cooler than usual summer, I think it will prove to be an excellent year for sparkling.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
LUDOVIC: Not only is this my favorite wine to make, but it is the best wine that we create from each vintage. It is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, from the Carneros District. We carefully press the grapes to minimize contact with the skins so that we have a brilliantly clear bubbly in the end. It is a blend of 14 lots that are each kept separate during primary fermentation to fully express individual vineyard characteristics and strengths. We fermented 30% in barrel to add depth and spiciness. Then aged it sur lees for five and a half years. We disgorged it as a brut style and aged it another 6 months on the cork before release.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
LUDOVIC: We poured this at our annual Lobster Dinner for Club Members and it was fantastic. Since we can’t have lobster every day, I would recommend it with some fresh tomatoes of the season piled with burratta, drizzled in olive oil and balsamic and sprigs of basil. Anything fresh from the garden over a bed of angel hair pasta and some shaved parmesan would be good too, as the acidity holds up well to the saltiness of aged cheeses and the crispness of freshly sautéed vegetables. But as fall approaches, the nutty, autolytic qualities lend it to pairing well with roasted chicken and wild mushrooms in a white wine sauce over pappardelle.
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.