Taittinger Bubbles and a delicious French accent
Contributing Writer & Interviewer
Founder at SocialVignerons.com
While touring Champagne a few weeks ago, the region of France all the genuine Champagne wines come from, I had the pleasure to stop by at one of the most famous of local Houses: Taittinger, and meet with owning family member, brand ambassador, and marketing director, Vitalie Taittinger. After visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of the crayères, the limestone underground galleries used to age Taittinger Champagne wines underneath their headquarter in Reims, I sat down with Vitalie to get to know her and learn more about her family’s prestigious House. Listen to the charming interview I had with Vitalie, and find some of the highlights below.
The History of Taittinger: the third-oldest Champagne house
With her delicious French accent that’s a little stronger than mine, Vitalie Taittinger first told me about the old History of her winemaking Champagne house. “At the beginning, Taittinger was not Taittinger, it was Forest et Fourneaux, and has been created just in 1734.” said Vitalie. She mentioned how at the time, wine was made in collaboration with a Monk named Jean Oudart, who was a little bit younger than Dom Pérignon, and learned a lot with Dom Pérignon, but also optimized the technique of the champagne. With the champagne of Dom Pérignon, the champagne of Dom Oudart from Pierry was also one of the most prestigious champagne, and the most expensive, too.
It’s in 1932 that the house was purchased by Pierre Taittinger who changed the name to Ets Taittinger Mailly & Cie.
“We came after when my great grandfather bought la Marquetterie in 1932,” Vitalie told us. “That’s the property of Taittinger in Pierry, which is a little village close to Épernay.” We also got an insight into a particularly interesting point in Taittinger’s more recent History, when the house changed hands in 2005, sold to American investors, before being bought back by Vitalie’s father Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger.
“So finally, it has been sold to Starwood, and for one year, the champagne was the property of Starwood. During this year, my father was still very sad, and also maybe guilty about the fact not being able to do something against this fact. His idea was to find a way to be able to re-buy the champagne house and finally, he managed to re-buy the company. So for us, it was something super big.” aid Vitalie.
Who is Vitalie Taittinger?
Vitalie Taittinger is the daughter of Taittinger Champagne house’s president Pierre-Emanuel Taittinger. With her brother Clovis who’s the export director for the brand, she helps her father representing the brand around the world as an ambassador and marketing director. She is such a unique personality in the world of wine, I had to ask her about her background.
Vitalie started to work with her father at Taittinger company when he succeeded to re-buy it. At the beginning she was not down for champagne. In fact, Vitalie studied art and she never imagined working in champagne. When her father managed to re-buy the company, it was such a big thing that she decided to follow him, because if he had done that, it was also to keep this company in family, and to keep this family history. Because of this, it made sense to follow him, and she worked with him since this time.
Vitalie started to work as a marketing consultant during time, her father brought back the company and the marketing department in Reims. Previously, it was in Paris. Vitalie’s father really wanted to create a link between the sales and the marketing. “We just started to work like that, and more and more, I was involved in many things in the company.” said Vitalie. Finally, she chose to change and became a consultant, then the marketing director. Now in her current role, Vitalie is the Marketing and Communication Director. Vitalie also told us that of all the travel she does and the destinations she visits, Japan and the USA are probably her favorites.
Taittinger today: 3rd biggest vineyard of Champagne
The house of Taittinger is famously one of the biggest vineyard owner of the Champagne region. While many houses buy most of their grapes, at Taittinger, growing its own fruit is a guarantee of quality. So, since the family acquired the Champagne house in 1932, it has invested in buying vineyards in some of the best sites around the region. “Today, we have 288 hectares. We own the 3rd biggest vineyard of Champagne. And for us, it’s, of course, very important.” said Vitalie. For the Taittinger family, it is “important to control the quality with the fact to grow your own vineyard, because many things are happening just at this stage.
Taittinger and the USA
Taittinger also owns vineyards in Napa Valley, California with the Domaine Carneros they bought with their US distributor Kobrand in 1982. I asked Vitalie whether from a French perspective, the Californian sparkling winemakers there were able to make their own choices. “They were good enough very quickly, because it’s leaded by a charming lady with Eileen Crane, and I have to say that we never tell anything, and we don’t have to tell anything, because it’s always perfect. She does a very, very good job, and it’s a winery which works very well. The Domaine Carneros winery is a copy of the la Marquetterie that we have in France.” said Vitalie.
When I asked Vitalie if the USA was a major market for Taittinger, she said yes and that is is a very, very important market for them. And it’s a historical market for us. It’s the first big market that my uncle Claude Taittinger has developed. And in America, kind of long time ago, we used to sell a lot of Comtes de Champagne. And now, we are continuing to work in that direction.”
Taittinger Champagne wines…very fresh, very elegant
Vitalie affirmed the clear philosophy of the house: “The philosophy of Taittinger has always been to create wines that are very fresh, very elegant.”
The range of wines is wide, made of a variety of different cuvées including:
The Brut Réserve called Brut La Française in the US is the main non-vintage traditional method. “Our goal is to make people happy, and we want that when somebody tastes the Brut Réserve or Brut La Française, they just want another glass.”
Les Folies de la Marquetterie is a single vineyard made from fruit harvested in the house’s famous estate: La Marquetterie.
Prestige Rosé : a non-vintage Sparkling Rosé. “The Rosé Taittinger, it’s a blending rosé. We love the rosé with a lot of richness. It’s great. It’s crispy.”
Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Taittinger house’s flagship prestige cuvée. “The history of this wine which has been created a little bit one or two years after Dom Pérignon. The idea of this wine was to make a very prestigious cuvée as an homage to the chardonnay, because it is a grape of Taittinger. So the idea was to do the best chardonnay wine you can do. So it’s 100% chardonnay. It’s a Blanc de Blancs. The grapes are all coming from the prestigious Côtes des Blancs. The five beautiful village, so you have a richness of the matière which is very rare.”
A particularly interesting fact we learnt about the Comtes de Champagne is that “you can keep it in your cellar maybe 20 years. It’s really an aging wine.”
Learn more about Taittinger Champagne house, their wines, and their ambassador Vitalie at www.taittinger.com