Napa Valley AVA
A Frenchman brought to America to find a home for a new Champagne in the US
Mumm Napa is the American version of French Champagne. Patent issues with France’s Champagne region that produces this most famous of all wines from the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grape varieties, has made the company change the name ‘Champagne’ to Sparkling Wine or ‘bubbly’ as it is known popularly in the US.
The late Frenchman, Guy Devaux ( pronounced ‘dee-vo’ ), the founder of Mumm Napa who worked at the famed Champagne House of Moet & Chandon in France was brought by Seagram’s liquor house to find a home for a new Champagne in the US. Devaux chose Napa Valley in 1979 for its clay soils and mild, sunny climate and it turned out to be a winner. The soil’s density restricts the growth of vine roots, while the clay content gives them good water-holding capacity, a gift in an area with low rainfall.
The effect produces Chardonnay with naturally-high acidity and depth of flavor. It also allows the Pinot Noir grape to develop rich flavors of fresh raspberry, berry, bright cherry and spice. For sparkling wine, the high acidity gives the wine structure and finesse. Not surprisingly, American sparkling wines are more fruity in taste than French Champagne.