Taittinger was established in1734 by Jacques Fourneaux, and in 1932 was bought by Pierre Taittinger who renamed it after his family. The Taittingers were no newcomers to wine as they were a long standing family of wine merchants. Pierre was either very smart or lucky, probably both, as he bought lots of vineyards during the Depression in the 1930s and bought more in the 1950s. These vineyards supply about half of Taittinger's needs, and are Chardonnay heavy, over 50%, helping define the house style.
The Starwood Hotel Group (Westin, Sheraton, Le Méridien, and more) bought Taittinger in July 2005. In May 2006. There was concern as they were outsiders to the region and more interested in short term profit than building and maintaining a respected brand. Less than a year later, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger together with Crédit Agricole, a major French bank, regained control and a Taittinger was running the house again. His nephew Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger now is in charge.
Most wines are Chardonnay dominant, except for the Roses. The house style is wines of elegance and grace, and their flagship Comtes de Champagnes combines those characteristic with plenty of power and weight!
They make several wines which include:
La Francaise - The Basic Non Vintage entry, well regarded and true to the house style. 42% Pinot Noir, 38% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier.
Brut Cuvée Prestige Rosé - A Blanc de noirs Rose with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier.
Prelude - A very elegant 100% Grand Cru non vintage wine made from half Chardonnay (Cotes des Blancs) and half Pinot Noir (Montagne de Reims).
Nocturne - A non vintage wine which is on the sweet side and made of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier. It has 20 grams per liter of dosage (added sugar), making it semi-sweet or semi-dry depending on your perspective. Supposedly the name Nocturne is used as it makes a good nightcap.
Brut Millésime - Their basic vintage wine made from 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir. Doesn't seem to get a lot of attention but it is very good!
Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs and Rose - Quite simply their Comtes de Champagne qualifies as one of the best Champagnes made. The Blanc de blancs is (perhaps obviously) 100% Chardonnay and the Rose currently 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (it used to be 100% Pinot Noir). James Bond is a big fan of their Blanc de blancs (in movies of course).
Tasting Note: Champagne Taittinger Prelude - March 2013 - Rated A- This is just damn fun to drink!
A light yet almost glowing yellow color
The nose has immediate and wonderful saline minerality, reminiscent of a great White Burgundy. Citrus tones fill in the nose as it breathes. I don't want to write about the nose; I want to stick my snout in it and inhale mass quantities of its brilliance!
Very elegant and light on its feet with apple and a well rounded minerality, & some nice lime and orange citrus notes. Cantaloupe as it warms. Crisp and clean without being acidic or sharp in the least. No rough edges. The word "finesse," often used together with this house, is uber appropriate!
Tasting Note: Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2004 - Dec 2013 - Rated A- or better!
The "or better" because although obviously fantastic, my taste buds were slightly off - my drinking partner du jour, the fabulous Boston Socialite, absolutely loved it! I loved it too.
Very pale in color - the term "white gold" comes to mind.
Clearly very young yet very drinkable.
Nose - delicate with orange tones and orange blossoms initially. Clear cut apple with some air. Some kind of melon; perhaps a cantaloupe/honeydew blend. The Socialite got some white chocolate.
On the palate, this is long, elegant, and smooth.
Wonderful tropical fruit tones - orange citrus without the acidity.
A spicy orangeness on the finish as it warms.
This just keeps getting better and better as it breathes and warms. I'll try again in a few years!
Tasting Note: Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 - Feb 2014 - Rated A-
Tasted twice with identical notes, the 2000 is drinking better than the 2004 today, but I believe the 2004 will ultimately eclipse the 2000. This is drinking absurdly superbly!
A light pale yellow golden color.
The nose is apple, orange, dried orange peel. Sophisticated and laid back. So clean and pure (as vague as these terms may seem, they are accurate). Hint of Mexican vanilla and walnuts.
On the palate it's like a white Burgundy, saline, seashore, like a graceful and beautiful MILF with the youthful sex appeal of a 20 year.
Asian pear, touch of ginger, pineapple-style sweetness.
A delicate wine of elegence with plenty of umphh!