The 'Comtes de Champagne'

The legend

The ’must-read’ legend of the ‘Comtes de Champagne’ (Counts of Champagne) from the 16th century is a marvellous narrative of an assumed reality, combined with the storyteller’s imagination and poetry. Its relevance today is not so much down to its historical accuracy; it is more an emotional tale, with new adaptations which continue to flourish to this day. The flamboyant legend of Thibaud IV le Chansonnier is very much connected to the unique Comtes de Champagne blend by Taittinger.

Portrait of Thibaud IV

The legend of Thibaud IV

Conqueror and poet

In the prosperous and powerful region of Champagne, Count Thibaud IV, King of Navarre, embodied the height of the political, economic and artistic influence of Champagne from 1222 to 1253.

Thibaud IV was a king, lord, manager, singer, conqueror and explorer all rolled into one. Captivated by a courtly love for Blanche de Castille, the future mother of Saint-Louis, he left for the crusades in 1239. He brought back two treasures from the Orient, the like of which had never been seen before in the Christian world - the Damask rose and an example of a new grape variety, now known to be the ancestor of the Chardonnay grape. The writing of the Taittinger legend begins here...

Seal of Thibaud IV
Thibaud IV the "Chansonnier"
The Provins Rose

The DNA of the ‘Comtes de Champagne vintage'

The Côte des Blancs

Spirit, vitality, sophistication and elegance

The strength and sophistication of the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs comes from the exceptional conditions found in the Côte des Blancs region.

Its slopes are located south of Epernay and dominate the chalky Champagne plain. 95% of its vineyards are planted with Chardonnay vines, whose white grapes create champagne with a light, delicate aroma full of character and vitality.

Meticulous Detail

A refined Chardonnay

In 1952, the Taittinger Champagne House created the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs - its most exclusive and premium cuvée - in honour of the Comtes de Champagne and in particular Thibaud IV, whose seal proudly adorns every bottle of Taittinger.

It is made only with Chardonnay grapes from the Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs region, including the villages of Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger, which all have a renowned soil quality for this particular variety in the region.

In the underground silence of the chalk quarries of Saint-Nicaise, the only sound is the echoing steps of the riddlers…

"I'll take Taittinger blanc de blancs….. It is not well known, but it is the best champagne in the world"
James Bond,
in Casino Royale,
by Ian Fleming in 1951
The Comtes de Champagne

The legendary vintages

The timeless 'Comtes'

The Taittinger Comtes de Champagne vintages are the quintessential House style. Some vintages, be they Blanc de Blancs or sometimes - in exceptional years - Rosé, become classics and join the legendary status of the top wines from the Champagne region. With this champagne, the mission has been truly accomplished, as it not only excites the palate with a range of exquisite sensations, but also touches the very depths of the soul and leaves its mark on a person...

Comtes de
champagne
blanc
de blancs

The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is the finest example of the Taittinger House style and is always a vintage cuvée. It is made with 100% white grapes from the 5 villages with a Grands Crus classification for the Chardonnay grape (Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger).

This cuvée is created using juice from the first press only. A small percentage (5 %) of the blend is aged in fresh oak barrels to create the very delicate balance of toasted notes in the final wine. Taittinger knows it must be patient with these great Chardonnays, which are the crowning glory of its terroir; the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs remains for up to 10 years in the chalk quarries beneath Saint-Nicaise, before emerging to ignite and delight the palates of wine-lovers.

Comtes de champagne Blanc de Blanc Taittinger

Comtes de
Champagne
blanc de
blancs
Grands Crus 2007

A Spectacular Comtes de Champagne

The release of a new Comtes de Champagne vintage is always highly anticipated. The year 2007, predcited to be exceptional, was not the easiest of harvests and could have presented a real challenge for a Cellar Master. He was, however, celebrated for producing a vintage of extraordinarily refinement. A true memory of time, the elegant freshness of this Comtes de Champagne suggests that it offers all the ageing potential one expects of such a cuvée.

Comtes de champagne Blanc de Blanc Grands cru 2007 Taittinger

Comtes de
champagne
Rosé

This cuvée, which is always a vintage, is only made when the year has been exceptional and all the demanding quality criteria have been met.

It is made from 30% Chardonnay Grands Crus from the prestigious Côte des Blancs region and 70% Pinot Noir from the Grands Crus from the Montagne de Reims region. The Comtes de Champagne Rosé owes the secret of its uniqueness to the 15% of still red wine which is added to the blend. It is the Champagne House’s most rare cuvée. Its fruity character and smooth, caressing taste make it a delicious luxury to only be enjoyed in small sips. Another legend, Rudolph Noureev, said, “When I drink Comtes de Champagne rosé, I no longer dance, I fly...”

Comtes de champagne Rosé Taittinger

Comtes de
Champagne
Rosé 2006

Time, a magical ingredient

The Comtes Rosé draws nobility from its long ageing in the UNESCO status cellars.
During this time, this wine with pure and demanding composition, refines to achieve a silky and tasty balance, until it becomes totally melted into a multitude of particles of small red berries, lightly roasted. A marvel that knows how to perfectly marry with a singular dish like a pigeon still pink, thanks to its balance between freshness and structure.

Comtes de champagne Rosé 2006
Comtes de champagne Millésimes de Légende

Previous vintages

The legendary cuvées

A Comtes de Champagne is rare. The criteria governing its production mean that it cannot be created in large volumes.

Only 35 great vintages have been produced since the first cuvée in 1952. The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs and Rosé are exceptional cellaring wines which survive the passage of time without losing their qualities and origins. Some of them have become legendary and can no longer be enjoyed - one can only listen to those who have tasted them.

CREATED UNDER THE SEAL...

The reign of the Counts of Champagne began in 956 and continued until 1284, when the region of Champagne was re-integrated back into the Kingdom of France as it had no heirs.

Initially under the influence of the Counts, large annual trading fairs (known as the Champagne fairs) were held in towns in the region. The fairs were held six times a year, and rotated among 4 towns: Bar-sur-Aube, Lagny, Troyes and Provins. The fairs revived the local economy, and made Champagne a significant trading centre in Europe. The prosperity that came with this trade, allowed the area to provide financial support to religious orders in the region and crusades to the Holy Land.

As well as being a centre of commerce and trade, the Court of Champagne was a focus for artistic expression. Thibaud IV, Count of Champagne from 1222 to 1253, was without doubt the best embodiment of  this. Thibaud IV was a knight, poet, singer, musician, conqueror and explorer all rolled-into-one.Thibaud entered the Royal French court at a very young age. There, he met the ‘Trouvères’ (epic poets from Northern France). These ‘troubadours’ had been invited to the court by Blanche de Castille, the Queen of France.. Blanche de Castille was his cousin and the future mother of Saint-Louis. She was only 13 years older than Thibaud, and it was rumoured that he was secretly in love with her. This courtly love inspired the young knight to express his feelings in poems and song.

At court, the increasing gossip of Thibaud’s affection for his Queen eventually left him with no choice but to go on a crusade to demonstrate his loyalty to his feudal ruler. Already crowned King of Navarre in 1234, he left for the Holy Land in 1239. He brought back two treasures from this crusade. From a stop-over in Cyprus, he brought back some vines which had produced wine which he had greatly enjoyed. It is said that he planted these ancestors of our Chardonnay grape on his land in Epernay and Sézanne. From Damascus, he brought back a variety of red rose called Damascena, which was originally grown in the Jordan Valley. The provincial gardeners knew how to graft it onto the Gallica rose, which was common in Europe at the time. All the roses which now grow in Europe come from this crossing of species.

The histories of the Counts of Champagne and the Taittinger Champagne House have been entwined ever since the  Champagne House’s signature brand was created. The ‘Comtes de Champagne’ have given their name to the most prestigious vintage the Champagne House offers (with the authorisation of Count Guillaume, the last descendant of the ‘Comtes de Champagne’). Indeed, the Counts of Champagne’s former residence, which was the main location for receptions during the time of Thibaud IV, has belonged to the Taittinger Champagne House since 1932. Taittinger has restored it over the decades and returned it to its former glory. Given this long-standing relationship, it is fitting that, over 800 years after the death of Thibaud, it was Claude Taittinger (the author of a book about the ‘Poet Count’) who edited a disc of his rediscovered compositions.

THE CHEMISTRY OF THE GRANDS CRUS

The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is the finest example of the Taittinger style. It is made from 100% white Chardonnay grapes from the prestigious Côte des Blancs region.

This area of vineyards in Champagne is without doubt the most famous and is 95% planted with Chardonnay vines. The white grape producing vines flourish beautifully well on the chalky soil, from which they also derive their aromatic sophistication. The Côte des Blancs extends over barely 20 km and is located south of Epernay. Chalk is present across the whole area, creating an oasis of water and warmth, which is very useful when faced with the double climatic influences of the sea and the continent. The vines predominantly face east, so that they are sheltered from the strong westerly winds, and are planted on the sides of the hills, so that they can enjoy optimal amounts of sunshine.

5 villages, with exceptional soil conditions located in the heart of the Côte des Blancs region, produce the Grands Crus du Chardonnay: Cramant, Avize, Chouilly, Oger and Mesnil-sur-Oger. Only grapes from exceptional harvests in this Grands Crus area are used to make Comtes de Champagne. In order to get the best from each vine, work is carried out by hand and in an environmentally friendly manner in tune with the seasons. The grapes are only harvested once they are fully mature and are picked and sorted very carefully by hand. The Comtes de Champagne are considered  the finest wines from the Côte des Blancs region and are, first and foremost, the result of the skills, knowledge, passion and dedication of the wine growers. These artisan wine-producers have worked alongside the Taittinger Champagne House for a long time and share the same pursuit of excellence.

Grapes from each terroir are pressed separately in order to retain their unique  qualities. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to fully capture the quality, purity and aromatic richness before the maturing period. With the skill of the cellar master, the balance of the blending will result in a Comtes de Champagne. In order to increase the balance of very delicate toasted notes, a small percentage (5 %) of the blend is aged for 4 months in fresh oak barrels, one third of which are renewed each year from the Seguin Moreau cooperages in Cognac and Rousseau in Burgundy. This is followed by time working its magic and the slow internal transformation of the wine. This takes place in the silent, subterranean chalk quarries in Saint-Nicaise, where the only sound to be heard is the echo of the stirrers’ footsteps...

SMALL QUANTITY,
PREMIUM QUALITY

Taittinger’s own criteria govern the production of the Comtes de Champagne putting  an emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

For this reason, production years for the Comtes are few and far between. Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, President of the Taittinger Champagne House, sums up the mindset perfectly: “We never produce a lot of Comtes de Champagne as the technical conditions we have developed to make a cuvée into a great vintage are very demanding. The Comtes de Champagne are a winning mix of strength and elegance. They shine with an eternal youth as a result of using the finest Chardonnays in our region”. Only 35 great vintages have been produced since the first cuvée in 1952, which was a spectacular year after two mediocre harvests. Some of these have become truly legendary and can no longer be enjoyed - one can only listen to those who have tasted them. The quality is particularly fine in the Chardonnays which display the typical characteristics of great years, namely elegance, sophistication and a good cellaring potential.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is created in the Gallo-Roman chalk quarries under the former Saint-Nicaise Abbey in Reims. It is subject to a great deal of care and attention until it reaches full maturity. The cuvée, made soley from   Chardonnays from the 5 villages classified Grands Crus in the Côte des Blancs region, is only produced when the harvest is of exceptional quality and worthy of becoming a great vintage. Only first press wine (the ‘cuvée’) is used as this is an absolute guarantee of quality. 5% of the wines which  create the Comtes de Champagne are matured for 4 months in fresh oak barrels (one-third of which are renewed each year) to boost the intrinsic qualities of the final blend and its hint of a toasted flavour. The celebrated bottles only see daylight after a long and drawn-out maturing period 18 metres underground and lasting up to 10 years.

 

Nikita Khrouchtchevwas invited to Reims by General de Gaulle and, after tasting the great vintage of 1955, exclaimed, “We don’t have anything like this in our country! “

Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond, was a fan of the Taittinger Blanc de Blancs. In ‘Casino Royale’, his first book in the series published in 1951, James Bond says, “Give me a Taittinger Blanc de Blancs...It isn’t very well known, but it is the best champagne in the world. “ In the film ‘From Russia with Love’, made in 1963, James Bond drinks a Comtes de Champagne.

1952

Comtes de champagne

The first Comtes de Champagne was produced. After two mediocre harvests, 1952 was a spectacular year. It was as if nature had said sorry and handed over what she had been hiding. The quality is particularly fine in the Chardonnays which display the typical characteristics of great years, namely elegance, sophistication and a good cellaring potential.

1961

Comtes de champagne

This is considered as one of the great vintages of the century in Champagne. 1961 had enjoyed a perfect summer. The sun shone and the rain fell at just the right times. The Comtes de Champagne 1961 is full-bodied, mature and creamy with the aroma of chocolate and truffles. The smooth, buttery taste is punctuated by notes of peppermint and a concentrated and unique fruitiness.

1976

Comtes de champagne

The beautiful spring and very hot summer resulted in an early harvest and an exceptional vintage. The Comtes Blanc de Blancs 1976 offers a unique balance between great sophistication and richness.

1979

Comtes de champagne

The 1979 Chardonnays had exceptional aromatic strength. The Comtes de Champagne in this vintage share the same characteristics. They are a combination of refreshing, creamy citrus notes and a hint of buttery caramel. Highly drinkable, they release the wonderful scent of white flowers.

1982

Comtes de champagne

This Comtes de Champagne has an exuberant, euphoric richness. Behind its elegant, pale colour, it has an impressive nose of caramel and coffee, combined with hints of butter and honey. It is full-bodied and sumptuously long-lasting.

1985

Comtes de champagne

The 1985 harvest was larger than initially expected and of a very good quality. The Champagne region had enjoyed wonderful weather throughout September and October. It is pale-gold in colour, with a delicate and slightly lemony nose. The taste is surprisingly elegant. Hints of vanilla are combined with a long-lasting tropical sweetness.

1995

Comtes de champagne

A pale yellow colour with a silver sparkle. Uniquely delicate bubbles. A subtly spicy, lemony nose with the botanical, flowery scent of mild tobacco and tea leaves. The first fresh citrus fruit and lime flavours are followed by a long-lasting finish with a hint of vanilla. Unique and unforgettable.

1996

Comtes de champagne

Very pale yellow in colour. The nose is strong, expressive and particularly delicate and complex. At first, the wine releases the scent of small white flowers mixed with beeswax, which then unfolds into the subtle scent of lemon and fresh pineapple. The taste is very vibrant. This vivacity remains on the palate until the end, together with the dominant flavour of lemon and the very delicate aroma of dried flowers and lime trees.

1997

Comtes de champagne

A pale, clear yellow colour, with the subtle aroma of vanilla, acacia flowers and lemon zest. The taste is lemony, and is vibrant and fresh, with a very delicate, complex and long-lasting finish. A very high-quality champagne which stands out with its excellent overall balance, ever-present freshness and excellent cellaring potential.

1998

Comtes de champagne

A beautiful pale yellow colour with a silver sparkle and delicate and abundant bubbles. This vintage has an intensely delicate and airy nose, which develops on into the scent of white flowers and mineral aromas, combined with hints of fresh almond, vanilla and a subtle note of resinous wood. The taste is at first extremely fresh and dominated by citrus fruits, lemon zest and grapefruit, before becoming slowly acidic and very balanced. The finish is vibrant, long-lasting and complex. The toasted aroma is of brioche.

1999

Comtes de champagne

This vintage combines a delicacy and generous fruitiness with freshness and balance. It has excellent cellaring potential. Its colour is a clear straw yellow. The nose is very delicate and airy, developing into a blend of minerality and toasted qualities. This is followed by a delicate, woody note which complements the dainty notes of brioche and vanilla. The taste is fresh and smooth, and gives way to a gourmet flavour with dominant mellow, flavours of pink grapefruit and white peach. The finish is rich , long-lasting, balanced and overall harmonious.

2002

Comtes de champagne

The 2002 vintage is a great one, with long-lasting Chardonnays which are elegant and very aromatic. With its subtly toasted flavour, which just wants to blossom out further, and a legendary delicacy and complexity, the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2002 is one of the great vintages for the cuvée. Its clear, pale yellow colour is characteristic of a great Chardonnay. The nose is very fresh and develops into a combination of minerality and sweet fruitiness. Then the delicacy of a fruitiness dominated by mandarin and orange peel is quickly revealed with a subtle toasted background. The taste is sharp, very vibrant and completely fresh. The flavour is strong, smooth and intense. Its fruitiness is expressed in a fine acidic combination of sophisticated mandarin and delicately stewed fresh pineapple. The finish is very expressive, complex, long-lasting and vibrant.

2004

Comtes de champagne

The 2004 harvest turned out to be one of the largest in the history of the Champagne region and had an excellent level of quality. The Chardonnays have the outstanding characteristics of balance, complexity, long-lasting qualities, freshness and invigoration. The Comtes 2004 combines delicacy and an aromatic intensity which is both a pleasure and a promise, as well as having even more to offer. The colour is pale yellow. The nose is very pure and develops into a contrast between an already confident intensity and a delicacy, which is revealed by the aroma of pear, greengage and white flowers. The taste is vibrant and is dominated by the flavours of preserved lemon zest and fresh pineapple. The full-bodied mid-palate is full of freshness with hints of grapefruit. The finish is acidic and beautifully long-lasting.

2005

Comtes de champagne

This year was hot and dry throughout, giving the Chardonnays excellent quality and a combination of freshness and minerality, as well as being full-bodied and long-lasting. As a result, the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2005 is a very expressive, full-bodied champagne with depth and complexity. Its structure and richness means that it will have an interesting cellaring potential. The colour is pale yellow, with very light, abundant bubbles. Its nose is very intense and develops into creamy notes of crème pâtissière and a great aromatic richness. The finish to the nose is combined with a mildly reduced delicate toasted note. The taste is forthright, with a lovely structured balance with a hint of fruit-tree wood. The taste mid-palate is gourmet and elegant, with the flavour of ripe fruit, such a pink grapefruit. The finish is long-lasting, rich and complex with an overall exquisite freshness.

2006

Comtes de champagne

The year 2006 was predominantly warm. The Chardonnays display rich and complex aromas of white and citrus fruit, together with white flowers, as well as a lovely minerality which gives them their elegance and sophistication. The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 is a champagne which is both mature and delicate, with great aromatic promise, suggesting an interesting cellaring quality. The colour is very pale yellow. The nose develops into a fresh, delicate mandarin-style fruitiness. This is followed by the maturity of ripe fruit and sweet pastries, raisins and candied fruit. The taste is very vibrant and sophisticated at the same time. The mid-palate is smooth, full-bodied and rich with the flavour of grapefruit. The finish is very delicate and long-lasting with a hint of spice, reminiscent of a stick of liquorice.

2007, A SURPRISING YEAR

From the vine to the glass, the wine year 2007 is placed under the sign of the exception. After a mild winter, the vegetation started to grow prematurely under unusual heat. Many already predict harvest in mid-August.

However it was the bad weather that settled  in the region from the month of May that changed this.Flowering was disrupted  and with full flowering reached between 24 May and 1 June. As a result of a rather sullen and cold summer, the ripening of the grapesslowed down. The return of the sun at the end of August is synonymous with optimism and this allowed  a beautiful ripening of the fruits. Harvest started  on August 30th under a cold and dry wind, allowing a healthy quality harvest. The Chardonnay, frank and fine, suggested an exceptional potential between citrus fruit and white fruits.

Synonymous with an exceptional moment, the opening of this vintage 2007 keeps all its promises. The typical colour of the Chardonnay is present, its golden and shiny dress is crossed by a cord of fine and persistent bubbles. Its delicate nose is a soft mixture of white flower and minerality with generous aromas of Anjou pear and dry white grapes. To this fruity perception comes the addition of aniseed and smoked touches. In the mouth, the attack is lively, with an alliance of flavours of yellow lemon and salinity. Then we have a sensation of freshness, complex and suave, a perfect balance between maturity and roundness. The finale turns out to be a beautiful long finish, tart, in tension and adorned with sweet notes of salty butter. A true memory of time, the freshness of this Comtes de Champagne foreshadows all the potential for ageing that is expected of such a cuvée.

A WINE WHICH IS IDEAL FOR LAYING DOWN

The year 2006 is placed under the sign of heat. After a dry autumn, the winter turnedd snowy, without damaging  the vines. The spring, characterized by a uniform sweetness, finished on a bloom spread from 12 to 18 June.

The summer, meanwhile, was one of contrast. The month of July stood out with  its scorching heat punctuated by thunderstorms, while  August made  way for  greyness. September marked  the return of beautiful temperatures with a tendency towards drought. The harvest began on September 7.  There was an abundant crop with a  selection of the most beautiful grapes. The Chardonnays in this wine  reveal rich, complex aromas of white and citrus fruits and white flowers. A beautiful minerality gives them finesse and elegance. Pinot noirs are distinguished by their richness, their typicality and their potential, combining small red berries, cherry, with body and power. Balanced, they have the backbone to wear a beautiful vintage. The robe of this Comtes de Champagne rosé is supported, the bubbles are flush with it to form a delicate bead of moss. The  nose is loaded with aromas of blood orange. Little by little this is joined by those of candied red and black fruits, the paste of quince. The intense attack concentrates on the red fruit, then the wine becomes ample, viney and structured. The final, expression , stretches, complex and luxurious. Take the time to taste this cuvée and feel the work of time.

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