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Twelve pieces of dirt

Has GH Mumm found its soul again? Tom Stevenson believes so, even though he once wrote that "It took more than 160 years to build Mumm's reputation, and less than a decade to demolish it." After tracking Mumm's recent renaissance, he tells the ups and downs from behind the scenes of its 11-year quest to establish a special new prestige cuvée - Cuvée R Lalou - as the cornerstone of its 21st-century reputation

Cuvée R Lalou

by Tom Stevenson

Lionel Breton eyed me from across the table at L'Assiette Champenoise and declared, "I heard that you once refused to visit Mumm." It was not so much a statement, as an invitation to elaborate, so I replied: "That's not true. I refused to visit many times."

Breton - a Pernod Ricard man, and the chairman and CEO of Martell Mumm Perrier Jouët - nodded for me to continue. The truth is I didn't want to do anything at that particular moment other than savor Arnaud Lallement's heavenly Asperge Verte de Robert Blanc, but Breton had finished his trio of asparagus and obviously had other ideas.

The story began, I told him, with repeated efforts by Mumm in the mid-1990s to get me to visit their new facilities. I had dropped in on Mumm several times throughout the early to mid-1980s, but I had a backlog of growers on my must-visit list and absolutely no incentive to see Mumm while it was churning out Champagne I could not drink, let alone recommend. I recently wrote up the story of Mumm and Cuvée R Lalou, the Champagne that might just have changed all that, for World of Fine Wine magazine. With their permission wine-pages visitors may now download the .pdf version of the article.

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