If you’re like most fans of sparkling wine, this question has undoubtedly crossed your mind: what is the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne?
The simplest answer is that Champagne is sparkling wine made in Champagne, France following time-honored winemaking standards. When Mumm Napa founder Guy Devaux came to the United States and found the ideal area for growing traditional Champagne grapes, he brought these techniques to the Napa Valley:
- Use of three grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier
- Follow a winemaking process in the traditional méthode champenoise (known as méthode traditionnelle outside of France)
- Age a minimum of 1.5 years
- Undergo the “remuage” or “riddling” process that removes the “lees” (expired yeast) from the wine after carbonation
Although Mumm Napa wines have always been crafted to the same high standards as Champagne, and our history dates back centuries to G.H. Mumm in France, we’ll always proudly refer to them as méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines. Today, our Chief Winemaker Ludovic Dervin, who hails from Champagne, sustains the French winemaking tradition, while our wines feature a cordon rouge sash, just like G.H. Mumm Champagnes, to signify the deep and ongoing connection.
So all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is the same as Champagne. Apart from their different regions of origin, sparkling wines like prosecco, cava, sekt, asti and crémant may use different grapes, a different winemaking process, or both, to make wines that taste and feel much different than Champagne, or cost less to produce.
Though Mumm Napa stays close to the winemaking roots we share with Champagne, that still leaves room for some exciting variations. Some Mumm Napa wines showcase traditional varietals; others (like Blanc de Blancs, for instance) introduce a California twist by using Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes, which grow so beautifully in Napa. Sometimes we highlight Pinot Meunier, which is not frequently found outside of France, on its own, with sparkling or still Pinot Meunier.
For a more classic example, taste test Mumm Napa’s signature Brut Prestige. It’s made with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris grapes for a dry, rich, and elegant result.
While many wonder about the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne, it may be more important to recognize where there are similarities in the rigorous, traditional process used to make only the best quality sparkling wine. Like Mumm Napa.
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