Ok, so I don’t think it will come as a surprise to hear that I’m rather partial to a glass of fizz. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if I was limited to one alcoholic drink for the rest of my life, Champagne is the one I would choose.
However, despite being a huge fan for the last 15 or so years of my life, I am ashamed to say I have been rather ignorant as to what it actually is I enjoy about Champagne, apart from the obvious. Of course I like the sparkle, the luxury…and obviously I enjoy the taste. But what exactly is it that makes me like one Champagne more than another?
This week, I was lucky enough to find out, thanks to the experts at G.H. Mumm Champagne and their pop up bar at the London Restaurant Festival Awards.
It was a chilly evening at Old Spitalfields Market, but that didn’t stop some of London’s finest restaurants from going all out to showcase their food. I had the pleasure of meeting food critic Charles Campion and Masterchef’s John Torode, who was their to show off his local bar and restaurant, The Luxe (which incidentally has the most amazing pork and veal burgers I have ever tasted). Jun Tanaka and partner Mark Jankel dished out delicious plates of Street Food from their Street Kitchen van, and the Mumm champagne bar treated guests to glasses of bubbles, some of which came from a huge Salmanazar bottle that took considerable skill to pour!
There were 3 champagnes on offer from Mumm; the G.H. Mumm Rose, the Mumm de Cramant and the G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge, and I was lucky enough to be poured a glass of each and taken through the flavours one by one. It was fascinating to learn about the different grapes used to produce each bottle…and extremely interesting to find out my preferences.
We started with the Mumm de Cramant, a rare Blanc de Blanc Champagne, meaning that it is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes from a single harvest. This gives the Champagne a crisp, fresh taste – I would describe it as delicate and light – and absolutely delicious. Only small quantities of Mumm de Cramant are produced at the Mumm terroir on the Cote de Blancs and it is so special that it wasn’t available commercially until 1960, despite being created back in 1882. This is the perfect Champagne to have as an apperitif, or with delicate food such as seafood.
Next, we tasted the much fuller Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut. It was fascinating to taste the difference between two – the Cordon Rouge is extremely fruity; I sensed citrus and peaches followed by a vanilla flavour coming through. The taste lingered in my mouth afterwards and was much stronger than the Cramant. The Cordon Rouge is interestingly made up of 3 grapes; 45% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier (which explains the fruitiness) and 30% Chardonnay. The Cordon Rouge is G.H. Mumm’s flagship Champagne and has been passed down through Cellarmaster’s since 1827. Perfect for any occasion, and ideal with roast meats or similar meals.
Finally we progressed to the G.H. Mumm Rose. The flavour was remarkably balanced – fresh yet fruity. The wine is a carefully blended combination of the Cordon Rouge with the addition of Pinot Noir red wine from Bouzy. The final combination is 60% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Meunier and 22% Chardonnay, which brings the elegance and finesse to the final product. Again, this was mouthwateringly good. Matches perfectly with dessert.
All 3 Champagnes were superb, and the bubbles danced on my tongue making me one very happy lady. My personal preference was for the Mumm de Cramant as it was so fresh, but truthfully all three were a treat.
It was a genuine pleasure to be guided through the flavour combinations by such experts. I look forward to putting my new found knowledge to the test next time I order a bottle of Champagne – let’s see how much I remember!
You can read more about the London Restaurant Festival Awards and see all the award winners here.