The purchase by Hicks, Muse, Tate, and Furst of Mumm from Seagram in 1977 looked, from the outside, like a catastrophe in the making. Happily, these American financiers proved to be consolidators rather than asset-strippers.
They not only put a fine team in charge but also gave them the resources needed to drag this historic house out of the marshes into which Seagram had allowed it to sink. The Americans duly took their profit and departed in 2001, and new owners Allied Domecq have had sense to leave the team - and in particular the intelligent CEO Jean-Marie Barillere and the talented young Chef de Caves Dominique Demarville - in place. Because of Champagne’s ageing requirements, improvements take some time to filter through, but already the low-pressure Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Mumm de Cramant is as fine, fragrant, creamy, and seethingly gentle as it’s ever been in the last two decades, while the basic, jolly Mumm Cordon Rouge has much more of a spring in its step than a few years ago (it has replaced Moet as Formula One’s spraying Champagne). Look out, in the coming years, for improved Cordon Rouge vintage wines - and also for the new “Grand Cru” cuvee, a vintage blend of wines from the five Grand Crus most associated with Mumm: chiefly Cramant and Verzenay, with supplements from Bouzy, Ay, and Avize. This welcome nod to terroir began with the modestly concentrated 1995 vintage, but watch for better releases subsequently.