Clovis Taittinger, Deputy Managing Director and Global Export Director of Champagne Taittinger, finds a lot of similarity between the “sparkling” people of India and the elegant bubbly that his family owned champagne house has been producing ever since Pierre Taittinger bought Forrest & Fourneaux in 1932, the third oldest champagne house at that time, created in 1734.
Addressing a select gathering at Spectra PDR, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, on his maiden visit to India, Clovis Taittinger, in his witty and tongue-in-cheek style had this to say “You are a country of happy people who love life. Champagne too is all about spreading happiness and if I can contribute towards this through my tiny bottles, even though it might cost you a little money, then I have done my bit”.
A nice analogy indeed and not far from the truth. Though champagne is looked upon as a luxury product, it is always associated with celebration and joy. It is meant to be enjoyed with special people in your life, the people you love, your friends and family.
There are hundreds of houses which make champagne, each having its unique approach and style. Taittinger is known for making exquisite champagne with a lightness and purity that is hard to match. It is meant to appeal to the “lover” in you rather than the “intellectual”.
The star of course is the vintage Comtes de Champagne, an iconic Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) from five Grand Cru villages of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize, Oger, Cramant & Chouilly in the Côte des Blanc, an area in Champagne known for yields which result in remarkable wines with great finesse.
However according to Clovis Taittinger, “It is not the vintage champagne but the non-vintage cuvée (Brut NV) which shows how good a house is because quality and consistency has to be maintained year after year”. It is here that Taittinger has an edge over other big names and Clovis Taittinger is rightfully proud of their soft flowery house style. A lot of credit should go to the winemaker Loïc Dupont who has been with Taittinger for 26 years now.
With a production of around 6 million bottles a year Taittinger is one of the world’s leading champagne brands (6th largest according to recent figures). The fact that they own 300 hectares of land in Champagne, 60% of which is Grand Cru (a regional wine classification signifying exceptional quality) allows them to maintain quality in the vineyards which reflects in their wines that are based mostly on chardonnay.
Outside France Champagne Taittinger owns Domaine Carneros in California’s Napa Valley where they produce a good-value sparkling wine. They also plan to plant a vineyard in England and produce a premium sparkling wine.
Except for a brief period in 2005 when the brand was sold to Starwood Capital Group and then regained quickly in May 2006 with the help of a loan of 660 million euros from Crédit Agricole, the company has remained with the Taittinger family who are all involved in taking the brand further without compromising on quality.
Taittinger is one of only five Champagne houses that ages its champagnes in the famous “Crayères”, Roman era chalk mines of Reims. While Taittinger owns four kilometres of Crayères, the rest are shared by Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Ruinart, Mumm and Pommery.
I got a chance to explore them when I visited Taittinger headquarters, housed in an imposing 13th century mansion on Rue de Tambour, Reims. This was in April 2015 during International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) La Champagne . One of the highlights of the visit was being served the flagship Comtes de Champagne 2005 at 11 am . It’s never too early to start your day with a glass of champagne as fine as the Comtes.
Another occasion that I got to try out Comtes de Champagne 2005 was when I met Clovis Taittinger during Vinexpo 2015 in Bordeaux, France. His unpretentious and down-to-earth nature impressed me as much as the wine which he so graciously served.
His visit to India was long overdue and thanks to the efforts of Sumit Sehgal of Prestige Wines & Spirits, the importer of Taittinger Champagne in India, it finally happened last month in September 2016. India is a growing market for Taittinger and one that they give a lot of importance to.
At the Taittinger dinner at Spectra, hosted by Michel Koopman, General Manager of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, Taittinger Brut Reserve, Brut Prestige Rose and Comte de Champagne 2005 were paired with some creative dishes prepared by Executive Chef Neeraj Rawoot and his team of talented chefs like Abhishek Gupta and Amit Wadhera who never fail to impress. Their food is of the standard of Michelin starred restaurants if we consider Michelin to be a benchmark for great food.
Meanwhile to all the champagne lovers in India let me tell you that “There is a world beyond Moët & Chandon. So go out there and discover”.
By: Lavina Kharkwal
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Champagne Taittinger prices in Delhi
Taittinger Brut Reserve Rs 3900 (375ml) ; Rs 6860 (750ml) ; Rs 12900 (1500ml)
Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé Rs 8750 (750ml)
Taittinger Sec Nocturne Sleever Rs 7500 (750ml )
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Rs 20000 (750ml)