Monday, June 22, 2015

Rare flight of vintage G.H. Mumm

Just a couple days before my "accidental" long vacation trip, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in TST at a champagne tasting of several rare vintages from the famous champagne house of G.H. Mumm, led by their cellar master Didier Mariotti, who was in town to promote the brand in this part of the world.

The event was held, appropriately, at the Champagne Gallery at Hullett House, the once heritage site which was turned into a boutique hotel. It's a cozy venue just right next to their restaurant, in the same Victorian setting coherent to the rest of the building, and decorated with a touch of red, the "official" color of the champagne house, just for the occasion.  

As I slowly settled in after walking up the stairs to the hotel in such broiling, gruesome heat in a typical Hong Kong summer afternoon, I was welcomed with ah glass of the Cordon Rouge, G.H. Mumm's classic, non-vintage offering. Among all the "entry-level" champagnes from the major players, I am always a fan of the G.H. Mumm's Cordon Rouge for it showing the complexity uncommon of the wines at the same price range, and perhaps more suitable to pair with a serious meal than enjoying on its own. But on this occasion, it seems like its tangy acidity and freshness were exactly what I needed to cool down.  

Of course, the highlight of the afternoon was the tasting of the bottles from the Collection du Chef de Caves, which was a limited re-release of three classic vintages in magnums. All the bottles were kept in Mumm's own cellar and disgorged last year just prior to the bottles' release. And with glasses in our hands, Mr Mariotti began to talk us through the 3 different bottles in reverse chronological order, the 1996, the 1990 then finally, the 1985.

We started with the 1996 vintage. If I wasn't told of the vintage, I wouldn't have guessed this is a 20-year-old wine as it's still full of youthfulness and energy. A deep straw color with tiny and mild bubbles, it started with a nose of ripe apples then some citrus, well-balanced acidity on the palate. A hint of wheat but not very distinct. Moving on to the 1990 vintage which was certainly my favorite of the afternoon. It opened to a similar nose as the 1996 vintage but more profound. The acidity seems to be a bit tamed which became more slightly expressive later. The taste reminded me of a freshly-baked lemon custard pie with a hint of smokiness, the same smell that often came out from the oven.

The last but certainly not least was the 1985 vintage, the oldest of the three. It opened up with a very distinct nose of salted kumquats, and on the palate, a sense of almost savory taste and wet stones. I also liked the creamy texture and the pleasant long finish. This is definitely more for a serious sit-down fine-dining meal where you could slowly enjoy throughout the course.

A number of hors d'oeuvres was passed around while we were drinking, and I thought the mini sliders and the pair of tartlets - one with mango and tuna and the other with Maine lobster, were all quite nice, plus they worked well with the lovely bubbly too. As we left the building after all the wines and food, I got an amazing sunset view over the harbor too as I slowly strolled to catch the ferry. How lovely.

Thanks G.H. Mumm/Pernod Ricard for such an intriguing afternoon.

When? June 18 2015
Where? Champagne Gallery, Hullett House, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, TST, Kowloon
G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Collection du Chef de Caves 1996
G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Collection du Chef de Caves 1990
G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Collection du Chef de Caves 1985

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