Celebration and bubbles, an inseparable duo. Add a feeling of exclusivity and you say: champagne. Champagne exudes pleasure, fun, entertainment and feeling good. For a party you dress up nicely, get in a cheerful mood and put your best foot forward, things we are currently missing. High time to fill a coupe or a flute with sparkling liquid.
Various types and flavours of champagne are available at various prices. At VIAGE, we opted for Taittinger, a prestigious champagne house where tradition, passion and craftsmanship are highly regarded. Taittinger has a rich history which started in 1932. Or actually in the Gallo-Roman era when the rich, chalky soils were quarried to build the city of Reims. As early as the 12th century, the Benedictines kept their wine in the caves thus created. The peace and quiet that prevailed 18 metres below ground were not only perfect for priests at prayer, but also for storing wine. During the French Revolution, the abbey of Saint Nicaise was destroyed, but the 12-km long corridors and cool cellars at a constant temperature of 11 °C survived to house champagne in the 20th century.
Pierre Taittinger, the son of Parisian wine dealers, discovered the Champagne region during the First World War. In 1932 he bought Château de la Marquetterie, built in 1734 in the purest Louis XV style and located in the middle of the vineyards, and also became the owner of a champagne house that was founded in the mid-18th century under the name of Forest Fourneaux. Champagne House Taittinger was born.
Since then the brand has become a well-established major champagne house. In 2005 it was in foreign hands but a year later, Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger bought ‘his’ champagne house back, with the support of Crédit Agricole. Today he runs it with his son Clovis and his daughter Vitalie.
The vineyards cover more than 288 hectares with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunieur grapevines and the method of mass selection is employed. This means that hundreds of different plants per plot, instead of traditionally no more than twelve, are identical reproductions from which the best vines are selected. The result is more natural and guarantees more complex wines and champagnes with more personality. At the same time, Taittinger is preserving the genetic resources of the region with this approach. No herbicides are used and Taittinger supports local farmers who are reintroducing old horse-ploughing techniques by entrusting them with multiple plots of land for this purpose.
After a lengthy process, the grapes produce different types of champagne: a Brut Réserve, a Prestige Rosé, a Brut Vintage or – if it is a remarkable year – a Comtes de Champagne. Once the champagne has been bottled, it goes into the famous cellars and is afforded the time for a second fermentation which makes the champagne fizz up when the bottle is finally opened. The law says that a Brut non-vintage champagne must mature for at least fifteen months. At Taittinger, such a non-vintage champagne gets between three and five years to fully develop its aromatic potential.
And then it’s time to clink glasses. In a coupe or a flute? According to connoisseurs, this depends on the grape used. The champagnes of a Chardonnay grape can be drunk from a narrower glass than the champagnes of the more complex Pinot grape. In the one variety, the preservation of the bubbles is a priority, in the other the development and sniffing of the aromas. Anyway, just pop that cork and enjoy!