By James Atkinson

G.H. Mumm chef de cave Didier Mariotti this week expressed his pride at having restored the former glory of the Champagne house, which now counts Australia as its biggest export market globally.

Mariotti was speaking at the Sydney launch of the G.H. Mumm Millesime 2006, which was his first vintage after becoming the house's cellar master.

Millesime is a cuvee from a harvest that was vinified separately and judged exceptional from the very first tasting of the vins clairs (the still base wines that will be blended to make the Champagne) in November.

Mariotti told media that when he joined G.H. Mumm in 2003, the house's reputation had suffered because former owner Seagram had cut corners at the expense of quality.

"I have to be honest, the quality in the 90s was quite bad," he said. [continued below]

G.H. Mumm brand manager Alle Grace with chef de cave Didier Mariotti 

Mariotti said he and predecessor Dominique Demarville worked hard to rise to the challenge of "changing all the rules and re-establishing quality of the wine".

"I'm very proud now that Cordon Rouge (Mumm's NV Champagne) is back on track, like it was 30 years ago, because Mumm was the second brand worldwide in the 80s, and the quality was very recognised," Mariotti said.

"At lot of people were talking about Cordon Rouge as one of the best non-vintage Champagnes in the 80s."

Mariotti said he and Demarville increased the ageing of the cellar considerably for the non-vintage Cordon Rouge.

"Instead of 15 months, which is the minimum by law, we age an average of two and a half years," he said.

Mariotti said this approach means Mumm has 24 million bottles of Cordon Rouge in the cellar at any one time, which does not make him very popular with Pernod Ricard's accountants.

"They don't really like me," he said. "But I think the more you age the better is the wine in terms of complexity."

G.H. Mumm Asia Pacific commercial director Yann Soenen revealed that Australia had become the brand's number one export market this year, and agreed that the "dark times" of the 1990s are long behind it.

"We've worked a lot on the wine and I think the quality of the wine has helped us to open some doors," he said.

"The response in Australia has been tremendous and then the Melbourne Cup has helped us quite a lot, to become more visible."

Coinciding with the release of the 2006 Millesime (pictured), G.H. Mumm has released a brand new look for its entire classic range, which aims to "reinforce the brand’s famous attributes whilst expressing its noble heritage and the individual personality of each cuvee". 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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