The story behind the Taittinger family is impressive as it’s one of the few large houses that has remained family owned. The Taittinger family are thinking beyond France, their passion of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir spread through continents. The family has a partnership in Napa for Domaine Carneros. Moreover, they recently bought some land from the Kent region of England to plant vineyards for English sparkling wine production. The fruits of these vineyards are expected to be given their first wines in 2023.
The visit started with a small video that talked about the Taittinger heritage, the importance of family work and introducing us to this family company. After the video, our guide took us down to the caves. As we went down, the first thing that welcomed us was an art piece of stained glass. This was made in the memory of the visit of the Russian tsar, Peter the Great, in the caves in 1717. In this scenery on the stained glass, it’s possible to see Dom Pierre de Bourge hosting the visit, showing him the wines.
Walking deeper in the caves, we passed from the galleries of Francois Taittinger, who was the general director, from 1945 until he passed away in 1960. This was the time when the house was based in the Saint-Nicaise Abbey cellars, built in the thirteenth century on Gallo-Roman chalk caves dating back to the fourth century.
During the route in the caves, we walked through the historical stairs, doors, arches and sculptures. We passed through long corridors with stacked champagnes, and riddling tables of magnum champagne bottles.
After the visit in the cellars, we got a chance to taste two of their Champagnes. Brut Réserve is made from 40 % Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, and the result is an artwork of blending the wines made from grapes over thirty five vineyards in Champagne. The official requirements for on lees aging of non-vintage champagnes is twelve months, with a total of fifteen months of aging before release, but Taittinger keeps this wine in their cellar minimum three years before releasing to the market. The result is an elegant and balanced champagne that keeps the quality in the same level over the years.
We made the final with the tasting of Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, the vintage 2016. Comtes de Champagne is the most prestigious cuvée of this house, it’s made only in the best vintages from Chardonnay grapes which are selected from five Grand cru classified villages of Côte des Blancs. This Champagne ages for ten years in the cellars that we just visited. All these efforts pay off with a final product of excellence, it literally slides down from the palate like silk.
It was a mind opener visit that made it possible to see how traditions can be carried over generations from generations, keeping the quality products as family legacy and spreading it over beyond borders with success.
All images © 2019 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.
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