The soul of a family business

Production

Humility and tranquillity

The experience and passion of the winegrowers now gives way to the skills and talent of the Cellar Master in selecting, and then delicately combining, the potential of each vintage being used in the blends. Chardonnay is always the main component used in the blends, and creates that original, defining characteristic of the Taittinger Champagne House. It is this unique style, which has been present since the outset; the style that the tasting panel always scrupulously seek to maintain. But nothing is ever certain. “Our work is based on humility and tranquillity”, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger once said. Humility is required in the face of a living raw material which is the result of the work of both nature and man, with no guarantees about how it develops and what the result will be. Tranquillity is necessary for the patience and long hours required for the perfect maturation of the wine and before it sees the light of day.

Alexandre Ponnavoy

"Our profession
consists of
humility and silence"

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger

Blending

The signature Chardonnay

The Taittinger vineyard is made up of with 37% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier vines, which are distributed equally across 37 different vineyards. These are amongst the best in the Champagne region, reflecting the outstanding style of the Champagne House. This allows Taittinger to offer a wide selection of brut, rosé or blanc de blancs champagnes. Chardonnay is always the main component of these blends, and creates the unique, definitive characteristics of the Taittinger style. Its excellence is recognised throughout the world.

Chardonnay, at the heart of every batch, marks the constant, original signature of the Taittinger style

"We proceed bit by bit to elaborate a champagne of which is to resemble no other, simply itself."

Claude Taittinger « Champagne par Taittinger »
paru en 1996

Time

The ethos of time

In Champagne, patience is a virtue shared by both the winegrower and the cellar master.

It is a combination of the weather and passing of time which gives life and strength to the grapes and the vines. It is also time which formulates the still wines and then the development of the champagnes in the depths of the cellars. It is only then that the art and intuition of craftsmanship at Taittinger champagne is revealed. They are the worthy inheritors of the centuries-old historic Gallo-Roman chalk quarries and the former Saint-Nicaise Abbey.

Production Sites

Always improving the materials

Nature generously and consistently provides the high-quality raw materials of Champagne with fortitude and gentleness. Man tries to enhance it by applying respect and patience, using both traditional and modern methods.

It is in this spirit that Taittinger champagnes are produced. Although the Champagne House’s unique style is mainly a result of the quality of its vines and blends, it is also derived from the process and technology employed in making the wines. . Even though the spirit and tradition of some of its rituals remain, Taittinger also uses modern technology. The Champagne House has made investments in order to preserve the quality of its champagnes in the long term and the trust placed in its name around the world.

KEEP ONLY THE
BEST

As a result of his crusade to the Holy Land in 1239, legend has it that Thibaud IV, a Count of Champagne, brought back some vines from Cyprus. These vines  produced wine which had delighted him on his travels there. Thibaud planted them on his return, on his land in Epernay and Sézanne, creating the predecessors of the Chardonnay vines that we see today.

This noble grape variety owes its reputation to the superb qualities of sophistication and delicacy, that it adds to the wine. Its glossy, golden grapes are strongly aromatic, giving the wine great elegance as a result of a combination of lime tree and citrus fruit aromas, as well as warm notes of brioche, beeswax and vanilla. Chardonnay is also a grape variety which keeps well, and so forms a large proportion of Taittinger’s blends. This gives the blends a delicate, light, fresh and airy feel, which is so indicative of the Taittinger style.

Chardonnay is combined with Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes, depending on the blend (with the exception of the Blanc de Blancs, which is 100% Chardonnay). Pinot Noir is used to add structure to the wine when blending champagne. It adds body, resulting in a wine which is strong and aromatic. Pinot Meunier gives the wine a smooth and fruity character, which adds a roundness to the blend.

During the harvest, which is done by hand when the fruit has reached perfect maturity, the grapes are taken to three nearby press centres which belong to the Champagne House. The bunches of grapes are weighed and recorded, and are then pressed separately; vineyard by vineyard, grape variety by grape variety. The pressing process must be slow and gradual in order to extract the clearest juice possible. The extraction yield is low. From a ‘marc’ of 4,000 kg of grapes ( a ‘marc’ being a unit of measurement for a press-load of grapes in Champagne), 2,550 litres of juice (or ‘moûts’ in French) are produced. The first pressings represent 2,050 litres and are called the ‘cuvée’. This followed by 500 litres of what is known as the ‘taille’.

The juice from the first pressing is both the purest and richest in sugar and acids. This results in an aromatic, delicate wine with great sophistication and good ageing potential. Nearly all the Taittinger blends are made from these first pressings. Each ‘moût’ is then placed separately into temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats, based on its vineyard origin and  , the grape variety , before being converted into wine. This process varies slightly for the ‘Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs’ and ‘Folies de la Marquetterie’ blends, as the ‘mouts’ for these blends are placed separately in wooden vats made from oak barrels. After fermentation and filtering, the result is a still wine (or ‘vin clair’). This is when the delicate task of blending takes place. It is an art which combines tradition with creativity, intuition and, above all...humility. The philosophy and character behind Taittinger champagnes is that only the best must be retained, in order to find that unique taste. It is the tasting panel at Taittinger which is charged with this important blending task when the wine is still, before any bubbles have formed.

In his book ‘Champagne par Taittinger’, published in 1996, Claude Taittinger described his understanding of the tasting process. ‘We proceed in small steps. The aim is to create a champagne which is completely unique’, whilst also humbly recognising that the process requires ‘hard work, a systematic approach and a little luck’.  

TIME FOR A
MOMENT

As well as the time which it takes to shape champagne, patience must sometimes combine with humility in order to deal with the resulting unforeseen consequences which may happen.

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger illustrates this by using an example of an alchemy which happened in the past. “A philosopher used this nice turn of phrase: ‘Chance is a discreet act of God’.  I like to think about that. During the 17th century, the monks at abbeys in the Champagne region sent barrels of ‘still wines’ (made from grape juice which had just been fermented once) to England, which the English traders sometimes, through thoughtlessness, left out in the cold on the London docks. The wine then naturally underwent a second fermentation. This process intrigued some of the monks, including Dom Pérignon. They perfected it to the point of creating Champagne wine. Following this, some German brewing families came to Champagne in the mid-19th century and took this development further with the addition of bubbles and yeasts. They gave their names to the wine, which then went on to become the major champagne brands. Our drink is a result of a cocktail of input from French, English and German people. “

Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger illustrates this by using an example of an alchemy which happened in the past. “A philosopher used this nice turn of phrase: ‘Chance is a discreet act of God’.  I like to think about that. During the 17th century, the monks at abbeys in the Champagne region sent barrels of ‘still wines’ (made from grape juice which had just been fermented once) to England, which the English traders sometimes, through thoughtlessness, left out in the cold on the London docks. The wine then naturally underwent a second fermentation. This process intrigued some of the monks, including Dom Pérignon. They perfected it to the point of creating Champagne wine. Following this, some German brewing families came to Champagne in the mid-19th century and took this development further with the addition of bubbles and yeasts. They gave their names to the wine, which then went on to become the major champagne brands. Our drink is a result of a cocktail of input from French, English and German people. “

INVESTING IN THE
FUTURE

Taittinger has been shaped by history.

The history of the family dynasty, as well as of the places that the Champagne house has invested time and money into, such as the Gallo-Roman chalk quarries and the vaults of the former Benedictine Abbey Saint-Nicaise, where the slow maturation of the Comtes de Champagne blend now takes place.

This history is not set in stone and is still being written today. This is particularly evident in the effort and investments being made in the remit of responsible vinicultural practices and the continual improvement of equipment for production. Today, the Champagne House has two sites: The Justice cellars and the Closterman cellars, the names of which make reference to their location in Reims.

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