Location: Maison Taittinger is located in Saint-Nicaise Abbey, Reims.
When was Taittinger founded? Maison Taittinger was initially founded as Forest-Fourneaux in 1734.
Who founded Taittinger? The Champagne House was founded by Jacques Fourneaux as Forest-Fourneau before becoming Taittinger under Pierre Taittinger in 1932. It’s one of the few independent, family-run Champagne Houses in France.
Winemaking Designation: Negotiant Manipulant – half of the fruit Taittinger uses for vinification comes from their vineyards, while the rest are bought from contract growers.
How many vineyards does Taittinger have?
Taittinger has 37 independent vineyards, spanning a total of 712 acres.
Where are the vineyards?
Maison Taittinger has vineyards in the villages of the Côte des Blancs, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Montagne de Reims.
Around 37% of their Chardonnay grows on the chalky slopes of the southern Côte des Blancs. 95% of the vineyards here are planted with Chardonnay vines, including those in the villages of Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Oger. Each vineyard has excellent soil quality for the Chardonnay.
The Vallée de la Marne is where the House grows 15% of their Pinot Meunier. In Montagne de Reims, they primarily (or mostly) grow 48% of their Pinot Noir, which is the base for their Champagne blend.
Growing Practices at Taittinger
Are they organic or biodynamic?
The Champagne House takes pride in growing its own grapes with the help of growers and artisans. Their vines are grown in a traditional manner in accordance with the standards of sustainable development.
However, extreme weather conditions pose threats to their vineyards. Covering their plots with grass and working mechanically without the use of herbicides is one of the best measures they could take to maintain sustainability.
The House does not have organic or biodynamic certification. Their approach to viticulture is different, as they aspire to be 100% sustainable by themselves and don’t want to follow for the sake of becoming certified.
That said, they are still in the process of experimenting with different tools and growing methods to better deal with any occurrences in the vineyards.
In 2017, Taittinger’s vineyard crews received High Environmental Value (HVE) certification, a sustainability program that aims to promote biodiversity.
Winemaking at Taittinger
Who is the winemaker?
Alexandre Ponnavoy is the cellar master at Maison Taittinger.
With a passion for the art of making champagne, Ponnavoy first ventured into the world of sparkling wines in California and South Africa and later joined the Station notechnique de Champagne, serving as an oenology consultant for more than 10 years. He started making wines at Taittinger in 2018.
What types of wine-making techniques do they use?
The House combines meticulous and traditional winemaking techniques, which embodies the classic method and mastery used in crafting the finest quality Champagnes.
When it comes to achieving the house style of their Champagnes, the blends are the key. The Chardonnay is what the Maison calls the “heart” of every batch. Besides the blend, the cellar master also relies on not just their technical expertise, but also on their intuition.
The plots’ condition before the harvest season allows them to identify which ones are ready for vinification. And from there, they plan on how to equip the winery for their future blends.
The juice from each fruit the House uses to craft the blends is pressed separately in the press houses. Then, they will be transported to their cellars in Reims for primary fermentation, which takes place in stainless steel vats as vins clairs.
After the first fermentation, the team blends the wines to the Taittinger style. And bottling comes next, where they add small amounts of yeast and sugar, as well as clarifying agents used to initiate secondary fermentation.
At this point, the wines should be producing CO2 and bubbles should start forming. As soon as the wines complete the alcoholic fermentation, they are put on the lees or sur-lie maturation.
If left on the less for a longer period, they’ll produce the highly coveted toasty and nutty aromas that lend a nice complexity to the wines. They can rest on the less for 7 years or more, which is more than twice the time required by the appellation.
Interestingly, the House ages their Champagnes in the famous crayères, which are chalk pits dug by Romans. Taittinger owns 4 kilometers of the caves, and it’s where they age their prestige cuvées.
Then, the team will remove the lees sediments followed by riddling. They slowly turn the bottles upright, through a process called “remuage.” It allows the sediments to travel down to the neck of the bottle. The process can take about 8 to 10 weeks.
When the lees sediments reach the neck of the bottles, disgorgement follows.
With the neck down, the bottles are soaked in a freezing brine solution for a few minutes until the sediments solidify. This allows the team to collect all the debris, revealing a clear sparkling wine.
Once the sediments are removed, the cellar master adds the reserved wines and the dosage. It’s a crucial process that allows them to determine or achieve the right level of sweetness before they re-cork and label the bottles.
The same winemaking process is done in all of Taittinger’s wines. But each batch may differ on blends, dosage, and maturation.
The Wines at Taittinger
Maison Taittinger crafts a wide range of Champagnes, some of which are rare and only produced in exceptional years, while others have the same percentage of grape varietals but varying doses. Each blend has a high percentage of Chardonnay, giving each Champagne the definitive Taittinger style.
The wines are aged in varying lengths to achieve their distinct aroma and characteristics.
Brut Réserve – Made of 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 25% Pinot Meunier; has 20% reserved wine. Also known as NV Brut La Francais, this house-style Champagne is aged between 3-4 years in the cellars, but the extra time allows it to achieve its full aromatic maturity.
Prestige Rosé – This cuvée has 15% still red wine made from the best Pinot Noirs, giving it its distinct color and sweetness. It also has high amounts of Chardonnay (30%), which completes the blend.
Prélude Grand Crus – Made of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay from the Grand crus. This cuvée is aged for 5 years in the cellars with a dosage of 9 grams per liter. It’s dense and concentrated, and a bottle age can bring out all of its nuances.
Brut Millésime – This vintage wine is produced only when there’s an outstanding quality harvest. It spends several years in the cellars to reach its complexity and aromatic maturity.
Folies de la Marquetterie – Taittinger crafts this Brut Champagne to honor Château de la Marquetterie, where the House’s story began. It’s made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs harvested from the hillsides of the château.
Nocturne Rosé – A blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir and Meunier. This dry Champagne reflects the Prestige Rosé style. It’s aged for 4 years and contains 17.5 grams per liter dosage.
Nocturne – Made of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir and Meunier from Taittinger’s 35 vineyards. This Champagne is on the sweeter side. It has a unique blend and lengthy aging in the cellars, which contributes to its fullness and smoothness.
Demi-Sec – Made with 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 25% Pinot Meunier. This cuvée is aged in the cellars for over 5 years before disgorgement. The blend is similar to the Brut Réserve, except that this one contains a sugar dosage of 33 grams per liter.
Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs – This vintage is made of 100% Chardonnay. Produced only in exceptional years, this cuvée is carefully aged in fresh oak barrels for up to 10 years in the cellars, with only 5% of the blend being aged in this style.
Comtes de Champagne Rosé – Made of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay with a blend of 15% Pinot Noir still red wine, this cuvée is Taittinger rarest. It’s produced only in exceptional years and has long aging potential.
Maison Taittinger welcomes visitors via online booking.
During the tour, you will learn about the history and cellars of the House. They also offer tailor-made tasting sessions, and you can taste one or two cuvées of your choice.