AT THE HEART OF CHAMPAGNE SINCE 1827
The first pages of the Maison MUMM fabled winemaking history were written long before 1827, its official founding date; the Mumm family, whose lineage includes barons and knights, dates back to the 12th century. Already in 1761, the family had launched a business as wine producers and merchants based in Cologne, Germany under the name “P.A.Mumm”, after its owner Peter Arnold Mumm. The company owned large vineyards in the Rhine valley, where it created its own wines.
In the early years of the 19th century, Peter Arnold Mumm's three sons, Gottlieb, Jacobus and Philipp, recognised the sales potential of the outstanding sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. As Germany and France enjoyed good relations at the time, the Mumm brothers made the bold decision to establish a new branch of the family company in the Champagne region, creating a branch office in Reims with the assistance of a local representative, G.Heuser.
From the outset, quality was the key watchword for the partners in this new entity formed in 1827, and it has remained so for all of their successors. This approach would be encapsulated in the motto penned by Georges Hermann Mumm: "Only the best".
TERROIRS AND CRUS
Maison Mumm's own vineyards cover nearly 218 hectares. The vineyards, in which Pinot Noir is highly dominant (78%), particularly in the Montagne de Reims, spread over the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant and Avize devoted to Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne, where Pinot Meunier prevails.
The official échelle des crus champagne vineyard classification of 1911, which is still in use today, rates vineyards in relation to criteria such as soil quality, exposure to the sun and grape varieties planted. Out of a total of 319 communes, this classification identifies seventeen villages as Grands Crus (the very best terroirs in the Champagne region) and 42 other villages as Premiers Crus.
With their total area under vines rated at an impressive 98% on the champagne quality scale, Maison Mumm's vineyards include 160 hectares classified as Grands Crus, and are situated in eight historic villages whose grapes express all of the authenticity of the Champagne region's best terroirs: Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Avize and Cramant.
Very early in its history, Maison Mumm realised the importance of establishing a system to ensure the highest quality, supervising every stage in production, from grape-growing practices in all its vineyards to the crucial pressing process.
The House demonstrated its capacity for innovation as well as its strong commitment to terroir – one that has never wavered through the centuries – by setting up its wine presses directly in the vineyards, an innovation symbolising its commitment to quality that continues to this day. Thus in 1840, when the company acquired its first parcels situated in Verzenay, a wine press was built and installed at the same time, which is still in use today.
Maison Mumm also introduced a supply policy that was unprecedented at the time: purchasing grapes directly from growers in the finest vineyards rather than unfermented juice. This approach allowed the company to verify grape quality and to press the juice itself. In this way, genuine partnerships were forged with growers, from whom the House demanded “only best”.
CORDON ROUGE: BIRTH OF AN ICON
In 1876, Georges Hermann Mumm made a decision that would shape the destiny of his champagne house. Paying tribute to his prestigious clients, he had the neck of every bottle of his Cuvée Brut decorated with a red silk ribbon. This decoration was inspired by the red sashes bestowed upon those distinguished individuals receiving the highest of French honours, the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint Louis and the Grand Cordon de la Légion d'Honneur. Beyond the visual strength of the Cordon Rouge, this decision firmly established Maison MUMM as an ambassador of the Champagne spirit, in due recognition of its accomplishments. Featured in the works of early 20th-century poster artists as well as in the pages of Hergé's famous comic series chronicling the adventures of the intrepid boy reporter Tintin, MUMM Cordon Rouge also appears in paintings by Utrillo and Foujita and even pops up in the movies. MUMM Cordon Rouge has often been the choice of leading personalities when dining out or celebrating, and remains closely linked with the creations of prized chefs.
THE "CHAMPAGNE DES SOUVERAINS"
Illustrious royal families across Europe, including those of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, were captivated by the Maison MUMM style.
Named as an official supplier of champagne to British royalty in 1904, MUMM first gained pride of place at the Derby Day banquet served in Buckingham Palace that year.
Commemorating this honour, the House prepared a special label, with the phrase "G.H.MUMM et Co., Champagne des Souverains" and displaying the coats of arms of its most eminent clients.
To this day, Maison MUMM remains an official supplier of champagne to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as evidenced by the Royal Warrant decorating the neck of its bottles.
In 1900, when Cordon Rouge was introduced to the English market, the slogan used was "the most expensive, therefore the best". The Maison MUMM has always sold its champagnes at relatively high prices. When Maison MUMM was founded in 1827, there were champagnes available on the French market for 2.75 francs wholesale, whereas the new company sold its product for 3.50 francs.
This is the price paid for higher quality. Resolutely orientated to the export market, the House saw its sales rise from half a million bottles in 1879 to three million in 1913, which made it the leading champagne house at the time.