Taittinger is a rare beast for a Champagne house, it is owned and managed by the family whose name is on the label. Founded in 1734 they are one of the oldest houses in the business; and biggest with production of over six million bottles a year. The house is owned and managed by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and his two children. I have never been drawn to the big houses (except to Bollinger), but as I learn more about their history and wine making, I always have a bit more of an emotional connection to them. About a week ago, we took part in a small Taittinger tasting, and chatted with a representative of the house.
The Taittinger style is light and fresh with creaminess and a pinch of sweetness. The sugar level is around 9g/liter in almost all of their cuvées. The lightness is partially explained by the predominance of Chardonnay. The house representative was very clear that the sugar level is a house preference. In this time of Non Dose, I would have expected everyone to come out with a Brut Nature, however, in the case of Taittinger that will most probably not happen. Here is a small description of the wines we tasted last week, and last but not least my favorite from the Taittinger range. Prices are from the Swedish monopoly Systembolaget and are in Swedish krona.
1. Taittinger Brut Réserve Non-Vintage – 399kr
40% Chardonnay dominates the wine together with 35% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier blended from vineyards across the region and then aged 3 years on the lees. Light, fresh and vibrant, but has depth and flavor too. The wine is creamy and has tastes of citrus, green apple and a touch of peach.
2. Taittinger Prélude Grands Cru Brut Non-Vintage – 549kr
50% Chardonnay grapes from the Côte des Blancs – including Avize and Le Mesnil sur Oger, blended with 50% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, including Mailly & Ambonnay. The wine is aged 5 years on the lees. A cuvée that is intense and soft all at the same time, with rich fruit and similarly rich leesy characters and complexity.
3. Taittinger Brut Vintage 2008 – 520kr
50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from mainly Grand Cru villages in the Côte des Blancs for the Chardonnay and the Montagne de Reims for the Pinot and then aged 5 years on the lees. 2008 was a great year, so we bought four bottles of this baby to save for a rainy day. It is definitely good to drink already now, but requires some time in the glass before it is at its best. We are planning to save the bottles at least five to ten years. Vintage Taittinger can be found for 520kr at Systembolaget or 375kr on the Viking Line boat. The vintage currently on sale is 2009 (if you are quick you might find a few 2008 on the shelf).
4. Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc De Blancs Brut 2006 – 1350kr
The house cuvée de prestige is 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Oger and Chouilly in the Côte des Blancs. 5% is aged in new oak barrels for 4 months to add complexity and richness and the finished wine is aged for at least 7 years on the lees before release. This is a very delicate, mineral and wine-like Chamapagne. That’s probably why I enjoyed it the most of all four Taittingers in the tasting.
Extra: Taittinger Folies de la Marquetterie Brut Non-Vintage – 539kr
This is a very special and different cuvée from the producer – a single vineyard Champagne from the vineyards around Taittinger’s own Château de la Marquetterie in Pierry near Epernay. The blend is 55% Pinot Noir to 45% Chardonnay a small portion of the latter is fermented in oak vats which lends a subtle toasty spice to the finish as well as weight to the palate. It is aged for 5 years on the lees. We have been buying this cuvée from the Viking Line boats for less than 40 euros per bottle, which I think is a steal. It is almost a reason in its self to take a trip over the East sea.