Taittinger, the world–class and world-famous house of champagne, has been involved in the industry since 1734. Based in Reims, France (the center of Champagne), the company was started by Jacques Fourneaux who learned the process of wine-making from the Benedictine Abbeys who, at the time, owned the finest vineyards in the region.
Pierre-Charles Taittinger was born in Paris. His family was originally from Lorraine but left when it was occupied by the Germans in order to remain French citizens. He was introduced to the Champagne region in 1911 when he worked with his brother-in-law at the Epernay-based Champagne distribution company. He joined the French army fighting WWI and rose to rank of lieutenant. During a battle he was wounded and he recuperated at the Chateau de la Marquetterie. The property was available for sale, so in partnership with his brother-in-law, Paul Eveque, he bought the Chateau and the Forest Fourneaux Champagne house.
Pierre Charles’s third son, Francois, ran the business from 1945-1960. During this period Taittinger cellars were established in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise (Gallo-Roman chalk pits dating back to the 4th century).
From 1960-2005 Claude Taittinger headed the company. In 2005 it was sold to Starwood Capital Group.
In less than one year Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger, in cooperation with the French bank, Credit Agricole, bought it back from Starwood and Pierre Emmanuel became the CEO. He is also the chair of Domaine Carneros in California.
Clovis Taittinger, Pierre-Emmanuel’s only son, studied history and graduated from EDHEC business school. He currently manages the export market and contributes to the development of the brand’s international reputation. Vitalie, Pierre-Emmanuel’s daughter is the company’s Artistic Director. She graduated from Emile Cohl School of Design in Lyon.
At a recent Taittinger / Calvisius event at a New York hotel we learned about the importance of Champagne and how to properly present it with caviar during winter holidays. Guests had the opportunity to experience a few of the Taittinger Champagnes and appropriate Calvisius caviar pairings.
1. Champagne Taittinger Brut La Francaise NV. 40 percent Chardonnary, 35 percent Pinot Noir, and 25 Pinot Meunier. As a blend of three vintages it provides consistent style and taste every year; aged on the lees for 3-4 years with in-bottle fermentation (providing Champagne with its bubbles). Thirty-five different crus are necessary to make this non-vintage Brut Reserve a staple in the Taittinger inventory. Aged for 3-5 years (twice the legal requirement) this Champagne is an exceptionally mature blend.
• Light gold to the eye, the fine bubbles deliver an expressive bouquet of poached apples, lemons, brioche, peach, white flowers and vanilla. On the palate, it is fresh and lively with hints of fruit and honey.
• Serve with Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige. Eggs are large 3+ millimeters), with coloring that varies from dark grey to black. Requires 11 years of the sturgeon life-cycle. Has a slightly nutty flavor and elegant aroma. Touches of cream and butter tempered with hints of the sea make this a taste sensation.
2. Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV. 50 percent Chardonnary, 50 percent Pinot Noir. Produced entirely and exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards. Following the harvest, the grapes are pressed immediately in press houses located among the vineyards, yielding a first pressing which is the only pressing used in Prelude. Fermentation takes place under temperature controlled conditions. Blending occurs after the primary fermentation. The final cuvee undergoes the second fermentation in the bottle where it acquires pinpoint bubbles. Aged for 5 years on the lees (AOC requirement – only 1 year) which adds to its complexity and body.
• To the eye, pale yellow with silver highlights, indicating a high percentage of Chardonnay. Subtle and fresh to the nose with minerality leading to elderflowers and cinnamon. Lean mineral Chardonnay notes on the palate indicate the strength of the Pinot Noir. Fresh citrus and white peaches dominate the finish.
• Serve with Calvisium Caviar Oscietra Classic. Eggs are medium sized (between 2.9 and 2.9 millimeters). Requires a 12 to 13-year life-cycle. Eggs are firm, dark brown in color with a golden hue and delivers a rich, nutty, creamy flavor.
3. Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006. 100 percent Chardonnay from top vineyards in Cote des Blancs. Produced only in exceptional vintage years with grapes from the top vineyard of the Cote des Bancs. First press juice is used and a small proportion of the blend spends 3-4 month in new oak barrels to increase the intrinsic qualities of the final blend. Prior to disgorgement, the Blanc de Blancs is aged for 10 years on the lees in the 13th century chalk cellars.
• Palest of yellow to the eye along with fine light bubbles that rise to create a delicate ring of foam. The nose finds fresh tangerine that leads to ripe raisins and candied fruit. The palate is happy with an experience that is smooth and perky. There are full bodied and rich flavors of grapefruit. Long finishes with hints of spice – perhaps a bit of licorice.
• Serve with Calvisium Caviar Siberian. The caviar size varies with age (from 2.2 – 2.7 millimeters) and the color ranges from gray to ambers. Requires 6-8 years of the sturgeon life-cycle. Has a well-rounded flavor that lingers and delivers aromas of the sea with a clean finish.
4. Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose 2006. 30 percent Chardonnay, 70 percent Pinot Noir. Made from 100 percent Grand Cru grapes; produced only in exceptional years. Uses juice only from the first pressing. Received 93 points from Wine Advocate and 95 points from Wine Spectator.
• To the eye, the palest of pink chiffon and the most gentle of bubbles; the nose hints of apples, freshly ripened strawberries and cherries and a bit of black currants and almonds tied together with a refreshing hint of acidity. Firm structure leads to a clean fresh and balanced finish.
• Serve with Calvisium Caviar Oscietra Royal. Large grains that are dark brown with shade of golden amber. The roe is velvety and firm. Enjoy the rich notes of pear, butter, hazelnuts with a hint of the sea.
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