Maison Mumm: a constant quest for the Nec Plus Ultra
Maison Mumm’s story, which stretches back nearly 200 years, features an ethos of continual innovation in the making of champagne. This avant-garde vision is rooted in an uncompromising relationship with quality, summarized by founder Georges Hermann Mumm’s motto: “Only the Best”.
Maison Mumm’s resolutely forward-looking spirit continues to explore new methods with which to reveal the essence of Pinot Noir, whose powerful, rich and elegant fruit endow the House’s cuvées with structure, complexity and a vibrant freshness.
Cellar Master Laurent Fresnet, the official custodian of Maison Mumm’s 200-year legacy of savoir-faire, takes advantage of this inherited wealth of expertise to fully develop the flavors of Pinot Noir.
Laurent Fresnet perpetuates Maison Mumm’s tradition of innovation
A native of Champagne, Laurent Fresnet has a profound personal attachment to the Montagne de Reims, having grown up the Grand Cru village of Sillery, in a wine growing family that has been making 100% Grand Cru champagnes for five generations.
Fresnet, who joined Maison Mumm as its new Cellar Master in January 2020, was particularly drawn to the wealth of its terroir. “Mumm boasts some of the most exceptional vineyards in Champagne,” he declares. “This terroir has everything one could wish for in creating the most exquisite cuvees.”
His commitment to innovation took hold during his studies, first at a renowned research centre in Avize, and then later at the University of Reims, where he majored in oenology, biology and biochemistry.
Laurent Fresnet’s vision of champagne is of a wine that is both alive and constantly evolving. With his insatiable energy and curiosity, he looks towards the future with the same avant-garde spirit that has inspired Maison Mumm since its very begninnings.
A creative encounter between cellar master, neuroscientist and designer
Laurent Fresnet has set a new challenge: to enrich the experience of tasting Mumm wines by revealing the full spectrum of their aromas. He has conceived this new approach by bringing together Gabriel Lepousez, a neuroscientist who has devoted 15 years to the study of how wine is tasted and perceived, and the designer Octave de Gaulle, who resolved the technical feat of Mumm’s Grand Cordon Stellar bottle—the first champagne that can be savored in space.
Fresnet began by describing each cuvée to Lepousez: its primary characteristics and its subtler, sometimes overlooked nuances. The cellar master’s ambition was to allow for a finer, more discerning reading of each wine and its more delicate aromas. Lepousez drew on his own research, applying neuroscience to the appreciation of wine. In the course of a tasting, the brain receives a multitude of signals triggered by the senses, the most important of which are sight and touch. These signals have an impact on our sense of taste and as a consequence, our appreciation of a wine.
When one or more traditional sensory cues are altered, our automatic habits are challenged, leading to a more spontaneous tasting experience. More aromas and flavors to come to the fore, opening up new perspectives that go beyond the wine’s intrinsic qualities.
Laurent Fresnet introduces newly conceived tools for experiencing Mumm champagnes
Laurent Fresnet commissioned Octave de Gaulle to conceive and interpret sight and touch-based cues that would put a spotlight on the different latent qualities identified by Fresnet in each cuvée. Two glasses were formulated. One glass features a smooth, glossy bowl tinted a deep saturated purple, with a thick, weighted stem on a smooth, wide, polished stainless steel base, making it significantly heavier in the hand than a traditional champagne glass.
The second glass is frosted on the outside, giving it an icy appearance and grainy sensation on the lips. The fine stem has sharp edges, while the aluminum base, somewhat narrower than on a classic Mumm champagne glass, has a slightly roughened surface. The overall weight is much lighter than a standard champagne glass.
The Mumm style as never explored before
Laurent Fresnet invited Gabriel Lepousez, before the tastings began, to take guests through a simple olfactory experiment with the emblematic Mumm Grand Cordon cuvée, which revealed dramatic variations in our individual responses to smell. Research published in 2019 has revealed that these differences are genetic. In addition to our genes, Lepousez explained, we are also powerfully influenced by memory, emotional associations, and many other exterior factors that give us highly individualized and personal responses.
Laurent Fresnet chose three cuvées that are particularly representative of the House.
Tasted in the regular glass, Mumm Grand Cordon Rosé has great freshness in the attack, after which it reveals its fruity nature. When tasted in the heavier, polished purple glass, however, it reveals an attractive depth and gourmet notes of red fruit (morello and amarena cherries) and Viennese pastry.
The experiment was repeated with the Mumm Brut Millésimé 2013. Laurent Fresnet suggested tasting it first of all in the much lighter, frosted glass with it texture surface, which reveals a hidden freshness with delicate, lucid aromas that do not normally come to the fore with this cuvée. Tasted in the classic Mumm glass however, this mature, structured and precise vintage cuvée offers gourmet pastry notes.
With the RSRV Blanc de Noirs 2009, a standard glass released all the wonderful qualities of a mature Pinot Noir from Verzenay: generosity, complexity and aromas of ripe fruit. However, when tasted in the frosted glass, this wine revealed great freshness with aromas of citrus and candied peach. Laurent Fresnet points out that this striking freshness allows one to foresee the great ageing potential of this exceptional wine.
“This innovative experiment helps reveal the wealth of nuances that are hidden in Mumm’s wines, as well as the remarkable, kaleidoscopic nature of our own, marvelously human responses to champagne,” concludes Laurent Fresnet.